"Joker" potentially allows men who identify with Arthur Fleck's descent into violent criminality to find not only acceptance, but also celebration, empathy, and vindication—and that is both irresponsible and dangerous. This essay contains spoilers for "Joker" "Among many mass killers, the triple
Cancel culture is a myth and it’s only a matter of time until I’m forced to listen to another one of Maher’s offensive and terrible bits.
CW: Mentions of racism, sexual assault, fatphobia, and Islamophobia
I am relieved that I live in a world where powerful people face consequences commensurate with the harm they cause, often after being called out on social media.
Scarlett Johansson, famous tree, has been canceled after whitewashing characters, defending Woody Allen, and trying to play a trans man in a movie. Her punishment: a standalone film in the MCU. How will she recover? Thank God we’re through with Lena Dunham and her white feminism. I couldn’t bear it if she was adapting the story of a Syrian refugee woman for film. After admitting to being guilty of sexual misconduct, Louis C.K. is playing several sold-out shows. I am simply giddy that justice has finally been served. Stanford’s star rapist, Brock Turner, is free after only three months in jail. Cancel culture wins again!
That amount of sarcasm frankly exhausted me more than the people on Twitter constantly decrying cancel culture and mourning its many, many victims.
The fact of the matter is that cancel culture doesn’t exist. The same people who lamented the surge of political correctness have moved their target to so-called cancel culture. This group wants free reign to mock or harm LGBTQ+ people, Muslims, indigenous folks, sexual assault survivors, and everyone else without consequence. That’s why they take aim at any perceived loss of freedom of expression, no matter how evident it is that that freedom was never lost in the first place. Marginalized people on Twitter expressing pain caused by powerful—often famous— folks are not depriving problematic people of opportunities, fame, or money. Social media has just given historically silenced people a platform on which to discuss the abuse we’ve suffered at the hands of powerful people.
Even with the ability to rapidly and widely share a person’s wrongdoing, it is immensely rare for anyone with real power or resources to face consequences more damaging than embarrassment. Often, they don’t even have to acknowledge causing harm.
Bill Maher is a frequent “victim” of cancel culture. It seems as though every time I open Twitter I am inundated with yet another instance of him being offensive, rude, disparaging, or vicious toward entire communities. If canceling people was so effective, why is Bill Maher still being paid for his bad opinions and tired jokes?