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Joe Rogan, Dave Chappelle Are Breaking Cancel Culture

Cancel culture has always been a wacky concept. Think about it aloud: the in-crowd declares themselves intolerably outraged because of a thoughtcrime committed by someone they’ve probably never met. Then, as a result, the target of their fury faces serious consequences at home, at work and on social media.

This ridiculous movement has grown powerful even though few Americans support it. A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll says 64% of Americans view cancel culture as a threat to their freedom. Meanwhile, a 2021 study found that Americans who align with the “woke,” those most likely to participate in cancel culture, make up only 8% of the electorate. So self-identified wokes hardly exist outside college campuses and online Slack channels.

This mob has used terms like racist, homophobic, toxic and very white to justify their attacks, too many of which have been successful. They use these labels as weapons, as a means of bringing about their desired end: the cancellation of a particular individual.

And they’ve selected that individual for a reason. Each head on the mantle — and there are many — was strong and brave. The left wants to curtail the influence of these people, who often have a large following, in order to contain the threat they pose.

In the beginning, the thought-police pounced on those like Phil Robertson, a hillbilly on Duck Dynasty whom the ruling class could not rule. Robertson was an easy target, and the elites destroyed him without a fight.

Journalists soon after had an equally successful time bringing down a few dissidents in Hollywood, television and athletics. But after years of harassing corporations that rely on sponsors for public promotion, disgruntled leftists have now turned to independent voices within the culture.

Enter comedians Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan, who have begun to slowly turn the tide of cancel culture. It started in November when Netflix ignored an in-house protest to remove Chappelle for his special, The Closer, in which he joked about the LGBTQ community. Netflix’s resistance to remove Chappelle’s special caught its attackers by surprise, revealing their vulnerability.

These social media assailants expected Netflix to swiftly remove Chappelle from its service and issue a lengthy apology letter to each homosexual who said they were offended by his jokes. Not only did the removal of Chappelle and the apology letter never come, but the streaming platform then returned a second blow this week by announcing it would expand its relationship with Chappelle with a four-part special, entitled Chappelle’s Home Team.

Spotify and Rogan, on the other hand, reacted a bit more carefully to their critics than Netflix did. Earlier this month, a few losers compiled various examples of Rogan using the N-word on his show, The Joe Rogan Experience. Yes, some schmuck spent hours digging through thousands of podcast hours to point out a handful of instances of Rogan using naughty language. And in response, low-ranking songwriters and their groupies have threatened to leave the platform.

Though Rogan and Spotify have unfortunately since apologized, both say that JRE will continue on the service, just without the use of the N-word.

The Chappelle/Rogan combo is a fatal blow to a group of vultures who appointed themselves the arbiters of who can and cannot make offensive remarks. (Don’t worry, Whoopi Goldberg. You’re safe.) So, you might wonder, what happens next? What do the detractors of Spotify and Netflix do now?

The answer is nothing. They can’t do anything. They’ve lost.

It turns out that refusing to comply with the demands of angry tweeters reveals who they truly are: angry tweeters. By saying no, Chappelle, Rogan, Netflix and Spotify have stripped away the tweeters’ influence and left them posting in the abyss. Even a blue-check can’t save them if no one will obey them.

Targets of the mob win when they don’t relinquish power to their attacker. That sounds simple. Too simple. But luckily, it is that simple. Perhaps others can try it sometime if they’re bored.

So even if Netflix’s original programming is not actually original and Spotify’s app is flaky, these two tech companies are changing the course of America’s social divide. Their true impact goes beyond Rogan and Chappelle, who are rich and powerful enough to survive on their own. Spotify and Netflix haven’t just defended the right to free speech. They have shown other global corporations how to withstand social media pile-ons.

For too long, leaders in corporate America believed that falling in line is easier than fighting back. After all, Ibram X. Kendi might take some executive out of context in his next book and harm his corporation’s bottom line. But this fearful mindset says more about corporate executives than it does about the power of progressives. Such corporate leaders who have aided the left by complying are cowards. They saw Disney terminate people for old tweets and white skin color, and believed that was their only means of deflecting the attention of the mob. Yet Spotify and Netflix have proven that deflecting the mob isn’t the goal — defeating it is.

In September, Megyn Kelly described the woke to me as an “annoying, probably 10-11% group, that won’t shut up and is incredibly squeaky but can be stopped.”

She’s right. We can stop them. The Rogan and Chappelle sagas exposed cancel culture as fragile, limited in scope and not all that frightening. That will have a domino effect. The rest of the country needed to see this dynamic play out to believe that they, too, could win.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.

13 Comments

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  1. I completely disagree. Their struggle actually speaks to how powerful and pervasive it is. I think the lesson learned is if you are wildly famous and universally liked by both sides of the political spectrum (or liked by republicans), you can survive. Otherwise you’re done. Chapelle is loved by both republicans and democrats, and has shown from 20 years ago that he is very willing to forego millions of dollars on principle (see Chapelle Shows short run). Rogan had a ton of leverage. Had Spotify dropped him, he could’ve made his own platform and taken legions of his fans there.

  2. As long as there are platforms out there for the cancel culture mob, be it on cable or social media, to yell and scream and point their fingers at a person or group that has a different point of view than the woke mob has, it will continue. Whether it is just 7% or 10% of the population, they will always have a place to go to sound off their grievances, and because of social media, it magnifies their numbers, and cause, to a much larger degree, proportionally, to the actual numbers of the alleged aggrieved.

  3. “Though Rogan and Spotify have unfortunately since apologized, both say that JRE will continue, just without the use of the N-word.”

    A couple of weeks ago Rogan was “scared”, today he’s a pioneer in cancel culture.

    Sounds like Bobby had a quota to meet.

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