Jim Nabors. Kamahl. Engelbert Humperdinck. Herb Alpert. Four unique names that surely met the same fate: at or rapidly sliding toward six-foot below sea level, and thumbed through by hundreds perusing the five-for-a-buck record bin.
One could argue their collective contributions had stock during their days; now long passed. The environmental conditions that welcomed those artists withered and changed, and soon enough the very folks welcoming their output with open arms were offloading them into someone else’s. Played out, valueless and soon to be floating in the Pacific Ocean.
Really what I’ve just illustrated is one of life’s many wrinkles – people, places, and things come and go as they are supposed to. The value of shared meanings and experiences diminish as the context disappears with the people who were there to bear witness.
This kind of process is fundamentally organic and often as stubborn as a boomer’s lifeforce. That is to say, some things can be slow to die.
Though fear not weary traveller, for our generation has finally changed the game. We have accelerated the process of stripping the value from things to a speed far beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
That’s right friends – you too can a live free and easy in the realisation that we have infact made everything quite worthless indeed.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if we just programmed a bunch of computers to perform a seemingly impossible number of calculations specific to human nature and the laws of attraction? Why traveller, you need not look further than this very screen.
People are impossible to deal with, and (insert gender or non-gender) are an absolute dumpster fire. Men this, women that; who gives a fuck when you can just find someone else?
Everything in life is supposed to be easy to attain, and to that end, through the sheer talent and wing-nuttery of (insert app here) you can be presented with a roster of folks the computer has determined will suit your cover-based judgement requirements.
Catchin’ feelings? Not recommended when you can just shut down at the first sign of any human emotion or perceivable challenge displayed by the floating chat box. There’s others in the queue waiting to be responded to anyway.
Mmmm, you’re a rocket scientist but you look a bit average in photographs don’t you? Unfortunately, the computer has determined your appearance ratio is not favourable. Rest easy – because you don’t have to dwell with the others in the computational gutter pissing left and right in the wind. You can just pay some real money for the chance to be presented to more folks with talent consumption rates as astronomically high as their standards.
I’m exaggerating obviously, but as the years drag on I’m finding myself increasingly horrified by the sorts of unhuman interactions we’ve become accustomed to. As a 33 year old TikTok observer I’m clearly now only clinging to the edge of the generation that has managed to weaponise and profiteer off basic human interactions.
People have become utterly dispensable. I’m not an empty wrapper, Doge coin or any other commodity and neither are you, yet folks seem to be constantly dispensed with on a mostly surface level basis.
Once upon a time it was possible to make errors in relationships with other people – a friend or otherwise – and work it out through some sort of active communication. Instead we’ve simply worked to make it easier to throw people away like a plastic wrapper into the Pacific Ocean.
We’re polluted by choice and we’re certainly poorer for it.
I don’t really think the line: “These are just tools to expose you to people you probably never would’ve met” is a sufficient excuse for how these things actually operate in practice.
It goes much further than simple match making as well. The clear intersection of greedy corporations and dopamine-producing platforms controlling content visibility with algorithms is a greater danger to society than anyone has bothered to call out.
Societal expectations change along with the people who exist at any particular moment and lessons are learned constantly, year in and year out, by the very folks who are living. No one is perfect right out of the womb, and really, no one ever reaches perfection. If we did we’d be the robots I just talked about.
To be human is to learn from one’s mistakes. At its core, ‘cancel culture’ is unhuman.
This is something I wanted to talk about when I read about Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon a while ago. For the uninitiated, Jimmy made the unfortunate mistake of doing a sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2000 where he impersonated comedian Chris Rock – while wearing blackface.
Another notable cancel controversy is regarding the voice of Apu in The Simpsons, Hank Azaria. He is about as white as they come, and has been performing the voice of an animated character which depicts what is essentially an Indian stereotype – for more than 30 years.
In 2021, both of these examples don’t quite pass the pub test.
Jimmy Fallon apologised and thanked people for calling him out on the sketch and his decision to perform it in the manner he chose.
Hank Azaria has so much remorse that he spoke of feeling like he needed to personally apologise to every person of Indian descent in America. He will also no longer perform the voice of Apu in any subsequent episodes of The Simpsons.
Each example has a fundamental issue separate to the substantive cancelled element though.
In the case of Fallon – while one could comfortably argue blackface was already unacceptable in the year 2000, do you think he or anyone else would ever shoot something like that today? Things have changed for the better, and folks have learned how and why that sort of depiction is inappropriate. People still called for him to be fired from his current (different) job anyway in 2020.
With Hank Azaria and voicing Apu, it’s easy – The Simpsons should have been cancelled back in 2001. This inappropriate depiction would then have been viewed through a 2021 lens and dismissed as being a product of it’s time that we have all learned from.
Unfortunately for everyone, The Simpsons has managed to crawl on for 20 more horrific seasons making the racial issue an active and unacceptable problem which Azaria has taken steps to correct.
This idea that we can really dig deep and ruin people today for things they did or said in an entirely different era – created in an environment with entirely different conditions and expectations – is a bit mind blowing to me. Within reason of course, because some actions transcend the spacetime continuum (see: Kevin Spacey).
The point is, I started posting here in 2009 as a 22-ish year old boy. I can say with absolute certainly there are stories and statements in the post archive I would never think, write or say today. There are many reasons for that – I have grown up (somewhat), I have learned (to an extent), and I have developed about as vague an understanding of what’s right and wrong as the next person.
…I’ll get started on that journey to the Pacific.