I have to be honest that I am a little curious whether everyone understands that all of us has a past. I keep seeing that folks decide from time to time to target this person or that and then dig, dig, dig into their lives – it’s so easy if you’re a celebrity because so much of your life is on record somewhere it seems – to find their sins and misdeeds only to drag them into the light of day to point and scream THERE, SEE HOW EVIL THEY ARE?
I won’t call it Cancel Culture, because that whole schtick is just old. It started with the notion of forcing people who got away with crimes and nefariousness to own these things and it has become a sort of weird witch hunt. We are so desperate to make demons of everyone, it’s like we’re back in the good old witch trial days of yore where everyone wants to point at the next person to show how sinful they are in comparison to you.
NO ONE CARES!
Monsters should be outed as such.
But, in doing so, we need to appreciate that, as with everything there are consequences.
Something we don’t quite grasp anymore.
I followed this creative on the Twitter years ago because they were interesting and involved in some neat stuff. They got embroiled in an insane culture war and went through hell because of it. Good old incels and creeps making sure to put anyone that wasn’t them ‘in place’. I hopped off this person’s train though when they outed someone as being an utter cad and sexist and not great person…leading to that person to commit suicide.
Now, it’s guilt and shame that lead them to their fate, and I am sure a bunch of other issues, but it doesn’t help when someone puts on blast every sin you’ve committed for the world to know when, well, maybe the world didn’t need to know.
As a culture we like to say the quiet part out loud, wrapped in our righteousness and feeling the glow of glory as we bring the monsters into the light.
Only, it forgets that everyone has sinned and all of us are flawed.
I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I have SO many faults and flaws it’s hard to imagine how I made it this far. I remember being a kid and making short films with a friend and we were obsessed with the films of Scorsese and improv-ed our own mob films. At the time they were hilarious but now I cringe at the ableist jokes, the racist jokes, and every other thing in there that, at my age today, I regret.
The thing was though that I didn’t know better.
I was literally ignorant.
That doesn’t forgive me, but it explains it.
I have bumbled and fumbled through life, a foolish, broken fella trying to find my way, and along the way have done stupid things, selfish things, and ignorant things.
WE ALL DO THAT.
Saying that, it doesn’t forgive the abuses or violence of people, or the things that have been done to dominate and use them, but that’s a different story, isn’t it?
That stuff’s not just wrong but criminal.
I won’t say it’s right or wrong to bring it to the public because sometimes there is no other choice because, as in the case of some executives, no one will listen otherwise or will stop them because a job seems more important than outing a crime.
We have become so self-righteous as a culture that we won’t allow for growth, we won’t allow for change, and we won’t allow for the gray areas that hold life together.
I can’t help but wonder how much all of this witch hunting is due to trolls that just find a new target and want to start mess with them, and then how many are bored people who want to find proof as to why they dislike this or that.
Aren’t we tired of digging in graves to find bones of contention?
Aren’t we tired of lighting torches to whatever person or thing gets a renewed interest so we can drop them back a peg or two?
YES, art, culture, and our own behavior needs to be examined and re-examined from time to time. We need to learn from all of it and need to see where we can do better. We also need to understand that the world of 1920 is not the world of today. While some things are universal – cruelty was never good, racism has never been good, and on and on – we do need to learn to APPRECIATE that things we hate now may have been accepted at that point. That doesn’t make it good or right, but at least informs us to the fact that how we see the world isn’t the same as how it was seen then. Just like in a hundred years people will look back at the things we do every day and will cluck their tongues at, say, how we all have fossil fuel powered vehicles when the world was dying.
Yeah, look at how people were to inform you of how they are now.
Look at how movies were to cringe and appreciate how they are today.
On and on.
I wish, wish, WISH the creatives we love were always wise and measured and accepting but they aren’t.
Some of them were young and stupid once and said young and stupid and ignorant things.
They struggled with the same substance abuse issues, personality disorders, mood disorders, and self esteem issues as we do and would do and say idiotic things because they felt it was funny or appropriate.
Some DID ignorant things.
Heck, there’s a musician whose work with a band I love made a deep impact in me and they’re ignorant as heck with some of their opinions now.
I can still like their past music.
I have said it before but I will always love the Harry Potter books despite the things their author says on social media.
Rowling’s opinion has no effect on me and she has the right to sound off like an utter dolt who refuses to see magic in people that don’t ascribe to her world view.
I’ll read her books but it doesn’t mean I’d invite her to tea.
I know, gee, the cishet White guy gets to like something. Ooooo!
Yeah, I do.
And you get to hate it.
Everyone is happy.
I don’t look past the awfulness of people but I can at least compartmentalize it and contextualize it.
I can separate the art from the artist.
And when I can’t…then I will move on.
We are surrounded by jackasses and unless they harm someone intentionally or do some larger ill, I will take it all case by case. We are so scared though of saying what we feel because we don’t want someone to target us and bully us because of what we feel and think, from small to large.
The way to chase out ignorance is with light, not fire.
Sometimes that ignorance is stone though, and while some of it, societal and establishment stone needs to be dynamited sometimes, there are times we need to understand that it is what it is.
I am not going to tell an elderly family member they are wrong and obscene because they are ignorant and casually racist. It does no good to anyone and only damages things.
Changing their hearts this late in the game isn’t going to happen by bullying them and by doing it I am only making myself feel good so I can go brag about it online.
Oooo, I called my Great Aunt Tilly a racist.
The same people who live their lives on social media in snippets, curating their lives so that they look as holy as they feel.
We all have skeletons and demons in our closets.
We have all done and said things we know better than to have.
Or we should know better.
Who am I though to call them to the carpet to answer for these sins?
What makes me the keeper of their flame?
Why do I get to do that?
We are playing with fire.
It’s all well and good to pull the monsters out of the closets and to leave no place for them to hide.
It’s grand to shame people who deserve it.
There are absolutely people who should not be able to make money in the public eye. People who are utterly monstrous and awful who should just go away, but again, who are we to decide that? There may be just as many passionate fans that will defend that person. All we can hope for in those cases is that the people who control the money will pull support and push these people back into the darkness. Let’s face it though, that doesn’t happen often, but do we really wanna DEMAND justice more fervently than we demand, say, fair legislation or governmental leadership?
I mean, really?
Is our passive outrage from afar THAT poignant?
It is a very dangerous thing though to pass the torch around like a joint so we can each start our own private fires, for our own private reasons, some real and some made up.
We forget so easily that fire is no friend, it is an all consuming appetite and doesn’t care what it devours.
It’s very easy to damn someone for misdeeds real and perceived but very, very hard to take it back once it’s out.
We need to stop and think about why we feel the need to do what we’re doing.
Why are we so compelled?
Folks have a past, and so long as they learned from their past, who are we to convict them?
What makes us so much better?
Sure, we didn’t commit THAT sin but there are others I bet we did.
Why invite someone to start looking into your own closet?
The human race is a bunch of selfish jerks and most of us are trying to be better than we once were. We’re trying to grow. I am still trying. I have blindspots I need to work on, and I am trying to do just that. I figure I have enough work to do on myself though that I don’t need to start digging into other people’s sins to make me feel better. If I can’t help them, then I can either tune those people out or try to understand that the people they were may not be who they are now.
It’s work, but that’s what life is, isn’t it?
It’s all gray.
We can dig up every grave we find and burn down every cherished thing or person but it doesn’t do anything but rile folks up. If the people are still idiots, then it is what it is. Shaming them probably won’t change their hearts. And art is art, you can like it or hate it but once you start hiding it away you just put it in more demand. Art takes context to explain WHY it’s inappropriate otherwise it just seems like forbidden fruit.
We don’t have to shrug off or accept awfulness and ignorance, but that doesn’t mean we get to ruin lives or livelihoods because we’re angry.
No one gave us that right.
So we can sit back and start pointing fingers at everyone and everything, digging up every skeleton without context or understanding, without looking at a bigger picture, and put them on display, but someday someone may come digging into our graves and I wonder what they’ll find.