Imagine losing your job, friends, and your reputation just because you said something someone else disagrees with. Unfortunately, this is happening more and more these days thanks to a phenomenon called ‘”cancel culture.”
Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
Emma: Hi, Brittany.
Brittany: Hi, Emma.
Emma: Today I wanna talk about something that we’ve probably referenced a few times here or there that most of you guys have probably heard about at some point, but that I would love to just dive in a little deeper on, and that is cancel culture. this is something that Brittany and I both feel very strongly about. So I think this one episode, and this is something that doesn’t really have like a good definition that I could just read off to you like this is cancel culture because it’s something that’s kind of new and it’s sort of a new phenomenon and people getting ostracized and sort of excluded from society for their points of view has been happening for a long time. But it becoming a part of our culture and it becoming a part of just everyday life to see people who basically lose their jobs or who lose their livelihoods or their friends because they said something unpopular. It’s becoming more and more common. So I actually read a really interesting poll from Pew Research, which is this huge, polling research company that does a lot of interesting surveys with people and kind of finds out how the American public feels about stuff. And something interesting that I saw is that they did some polling and asked Republicans versus Democrats or maybe conservatives versus progressives slash liberals, what cancel culture meant to them. And something that was very interesting to me is that people who fell on the political left saw cancel culture as a way of holding people accountable.
Brittany: I’ve actually heard it called accountability culture by people on the left. So that’s interesting.
Emma: It’s, that is very interesting. So they see it as accountability, but then people who are more conservative or who lean more right said censorship of speech or history. So I, tend to agree with the latter there. I think that cancel culture does tend to be sort of this cleansing of history, cleansing of speech. And I think it can be really weaponized to harm people that just tend to have an unpopular viewpoint. And I think when we get into a place where you’re not allowed to publicly say something that’s unpopular or that people disagree with you on, it’s so dangerous for us to wade into a sort of purging the unpopular views from our society because it doesn’t make us any smarter to only be around people that we agree with. And it’s very dangerous when, you know, one opinion is deemed too bad to be held and people are just totally, you know, have the rug pulled out from under them and become these pariahs for basically just having one or two unpopular opinions or just seeing the world differently from the people.
Brittany: It doesn’t have to be a wrong opinion either. It’s just exactly an unpopular opinion and unpopular with who is a good question too.
Emma: Yeah, exactly. So this, there have been all sorts of celebrities and some of them might not be as familiar to you guys if you’re a younger listener right now because a lot of these folks are on the older side. I think a lot of young people right now, especially Gen Z sort of celebrities, are very, very scared to speak their minds about anything unpopular.
Brittany: I do think though, Billy Eilish, and I don’t even know much about her. She’s not my favorite person. but I know a lot of kids like her. I probably just made myself sound old, but I think there was something where she just like was hanging out with like, her boyfriend and said something that wasn’t even bad years ago. So it still does happen. It’s crazy.
Emma: It totally does. And it’s, I would say it’s more rare for the younger like Gen Z type people because they’re so scared of being canceled. but yeah, there’ve been a few different examples. So one would be, Gina Serrano, she was an actress in Star Wars, right? Yeah. She was an actress and the Mandalorian, which was a Star Wars spinoff, and she posted a meme, something about how, you know, excluding people from society because of what they believe is bad, how that was something that happened in Nazi Germany and it did that That’s true what she was saying. And she got canceled for that and she actually lost her job as an actress on Star Wars. So that was a huge example. and she ended up and later working with the Daily Wire and they’re working on a movie now. So that’s kind of a cool side effect of that. But also if you guys are familiar with Harry Potter, the author JK Rowling or Rowling, I don’t know how it Rowling pronounced. Yeah, JK Rowling. So she said some stuff about transgender, you know, stuff in the news that was unpopular and that people didn’t like. And I know that everybody’s got their own opinion on that issue too. That’s definitely like a hot button, hot button topic. Yeah, it is. But she said some stuff that that people really did not like, where basically she was saying, you know, biology is important and people, you people can’t really change their biology willfully, which, you know, a lot of people might agree with on here. Some of you may disagree, but that’s okay. We’re not gonna cancel you for having an opinion that we disagree with. but even Joe Rogan, who is a huge podcast host, he said something about how young people who’ve had COVID before and have good immunity might not need to get vaccinated. People really did not like that.
Brittany: Luckily though, Joe Rogan is almost uncancellable like Right. They try, but they can’t. And I love it.
Emma: I do too. And I think that’s because Joe Rogan has befriended a lot of people who’ve been canceled and he’s willing to talk.
Brittany: That’s great people, that’s people on the left who don’t agree with him, but they respect him as a person and so it’s hard to cancel him.
Emma: Exactly. And I always really like when I see someone who is a more of a left-leaning celebrity or more of a Democrat, go on his show and talk to him. Yeah. Because to me it says that there are still some people out there who maybe I disagree with them politically, but they would still be willing to have a conversation with me even though they disagree. Yeah. And I think that’s getting to the heart of the issue here is that when people will not speak to others who disagree with them on an issue and they see them as untouchable or they need to be canceled, that’s really dangerous because it’s purging dissenting viewpoints from our society and we’re only gonna have that happen to more and more people with unpopular views as time goes on. So, Brittany, I would love to hear, cuz I know you’re a comedian and you love the com comedy world, I would love to hear your take on what cancel culture sort of means for comedy.
Brittany: Yeah. And it’s funny cuz there’s comedians who are, tossed at this. There’s some who are not even what I would call woke, which are the ones that are a pro-cancel culture that tend to call it accountability. Like okay, maybe you just need to be funnier, but it really worries me because I do think it’s having an impact on comedy. You know, comedy is supposed to be what I like to call irreverent comedy is supposed to talk about the things that nobody feels like they’re supposed to talk about and to poke fun at it because life is short. Right. Even people, you know, some of the best comedy, there’s this one lady she got diagnosed with breast cancer and went on stage right after she was diagnosed and did a whole bit about it, did a whole joke. And most people would be like, oh my goodness, that’s so offensive. But she had cancer and she did it. And it’s, that’s what makes us laugh is we take things that we think we’re not supposed to talk about and we make them funny Now that is not become, that’s not really popular right now. And it’s funny what they choose to get mad at. If you make a joke about women, oh nope, you’re canceled. If you do, you know, a joke about anything that isn’t in this approved dialogue. And what’s crazy yeah. Is people are actually standing up and yelling at the comics? There’s always been hecklers who maybe, you know, start shouting things, but these people are literally standing up and shouting, you know, like, he racist, do this. And it’s really, really scared. You know, Bill Burr has talked about some things. He made some jokes about, I think feminists or something, and people were mad at him nor McDonald who just passed. He made some jokes about Hillary Clinton and he almost got canceled for that. I think it was actually, he made jokes about no one’s gonna know who OJ Simpson is, talk to your parents. That’ll be a history lesson. made some jokes about somebody on Saturday Night Live back when Saturday Night Live was still funny. and they, he got like fired for that. So there’s all these things where it’s like, okay, you can be funny but you can’t talk about this and this. But the whole mark of a good comedian as somebody who’s willing to say, okay, this is a little bit taboo as they say, but you know what, I’m gonna talk about it. Cuz that’s what comedy is. It’s observing behavior and things that we’re doing and kind of picking fun at it. So I worry about what comedy’s gonna be. I watched one special that was literally just this guy talking about how hard his life was and it wasn’t funny. It was really sad. And I’m thinking like, oh goodness, I hope this isn’t where we’re headed. Yeah. So Gen Z, try to help us be, please keep comedy alive.
Emma: We need some, funny people who aren’t scared to say what’s funny. And something interesting that I know Brittany, you, and Connor have talked about in another episode is how comedy can also be used to hold people accountable. And I forget what the quote was, but it was something about a jester. Only
Brittany: Only the jester can tell truth to the king. Something about mount lion.
Emma: Yes. Yes. And I just love that. And I think comedy to us, if you’ve ever heard the phrase the canary and the coal mine, it’s kind of like, it kind of tells you where your culture’s at and where society is at. And it’s sort of like a warning if things are okay or not. And when comedians aren’t allowed to make jokes anymore because too many people are getting offended, that to me is a huge canary in the coal mine that tells us, Hey, we’re getting in a dangerous spot where just having this unpopular joke even that people get too offended over. That’s super dangerous. And moving into a little bit more of like a serious side of cancel culture. It’s all serious. But moving into like, serious fields that have had cancel culture happen, is academia, so Oh yes. Colleges and teachers and professors. There are professors who have lost their jobs and become these outcasts in their field for researching things that were unpopular. So one of them was, his name was Sam Harris and he did some research on Islam and what Islam does to women, which a lot of the times is very negative. and he really faced this brutal cancellation from that, Brett Weinstein at Evergreen College. He basically, you know, the way that he first came into the news was Evergreen College was hosting a no Whites-allowed college day or something like that. And he said I’m not participating in this is backwards. This is the opposite of progressive. He’s a Democrat by the way. He considers himself a liberal.
Brittany: A Liberal, yeah, I wouldn’t say Democrat, but he’s a liberal. Yeah, for sure.
Emma: Yeah. Probably not Democrat anymore, but yeah. Oh yeah. But he’s someone who considers himself a liberal. He’s more on the left. And he even said, Hey, this is not normal. And then he got really protested. He got really canceled and students were just saying these horrible things about him. And, he really faced this huge problem in his career, just for standing up to something that seemed very ridiculous to him. And there’s this whole group of people now who kind of call themselves the intellectual dark web, which is super fascinating to me. And they’re these intellectuals and these thinkers and commentators who basically are like, Hey, we know that you guys are gonna try to cancel us. We know that you don’t like what we have to say, but we’re gonna keep saying it anyway. So, there’s Dave Rubin who was a kind of a former Democrat that now talks to people on all sides because he said he didn’t like how much the left was cracking down on unpopular thoughts. So I do think there are, there can be some positive side effects of this, which are, you know, the people who are really brave and who are really willing to stand up can kind of stick together and say, Hey, we’re not gonna stand for this. And even Jordan Peterson, I think has really done an excellent job of taking people’s attempts to cancel him for, you know, his opinions that he had early, early on about transgender stuff. They tried to paint him as this.
Brittany: And it wasn’t Antit transgender for the record, right? No, he just said there shouldn’t be a law.
Emma: Exactly. Bridging speech. Right, exactly. And he was people tried to paint him as this transphobic jerk and he’s not, I mean, he’s someone who’s very reasonable and when you actually listen to what he has to say, I think most people would find him very tolerant and very, understanding of all walks of life. So that’s a super interesting thing to me is how Jordan Peterson has been able to sort of lean into it and be like, Hey, I know you guys have these problems with me, whatever, I’m gonna keep speaking the truth. And I think that’s attracted a lot of people to him. So this isn’t to say that it’s all hopeless just because cancel culture exists, but it’s definitely a problem if not enough people stand up to it. So, Brittany, I don’t know if you have any closing thoughts to add before we wrap this one up today.
Brittany: Yeah, just real quick, you know, I think it’s important to realize that everybody’s speech is protected. And I know that we can get into whether Twitter is, you know, private or public, but you’re always gonna run into people who don’t see eye to eye with you. And I’ll be honest, a lot of my strongest views have been born out of disagreeing with someone and me saying, oh, you know what, I think you might be right. So I think we just need to take a minute to be willing to listen to people we disagree with here, what they have to say and not just wanna cancel or shut them up. Because I think if we do that, we’re saying that we’re scared of your opinion. And so, you know, we shouldn’t be scared of each other’s opinions. If your opinion is so good, then you shouldn’t be scared of someone else’s.
Emma: Right. Exactly. Yeah. I, completely agree. And the more that we can talk with people that we disagree with and it, and actually have those conversations, first of all, the stronger you’re going to be able to defend your point of view because you’ve actually talked about it before, and not just with people you agree with, but also you’re gonna have a more interesting viewpoint and you’re gonna have a more robust view of the world and a better understanding of the people around you. So let’s, all, my challenge to all of us would be, hey, let’s engage with people that we disagree with, rather than trying to just cancel them for their, them having the quote-unquote wrong opinions. Yep. So we’ll wrap it up there guys. Thank you so much for listening and we will talk to you all again soon.
Brittany: Talk to you soon.