You can say one thing about Cancel Culture. It moves faster than both Superman and a speeding bullet.
No sooner did the Academy announce Kevin Hart as the host of the 2019 Oscars did social justice warriors unearth enough “problematic” jokes to force his resignation.
Earlier this month screenwriter John Ridley opined HBO Max shouldn’t show “Gone With the Wind” on its platform due to insufficient outrage over slavery. Before you could say, “Frankly, my dear…” the service pulled the beloved film.
That means when the woke mob doesn’t assemble en masse something else is afoot. We saw two such incidents this week..
First, the host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live” snared the Emmy hosting gig for the third time. Kimmel, who previously oversaw two low-rated Oscars ceremonies, will yuk it up Sept. 20 -- assuming the show survives the current pandemic.
That’s despite Kimmel’s notorious work on “The Man Show,” including a recurring sketch where he portrayed black basketball superstar Karl Malone.
Is Jimmy Kimmel going to do it in blackface? pic.twitter.com/v3bj2qAC9A
— Philbert (@philbert996) June 16, 2020
Secondly, SiriusXM host Howard Stern fended off a Cancel Culture attack targeting decades of serial “offenses.” That includes repeated use of the “N-word” and appearing in blackface on his TV show. Stern blamed Donald Trump, Jr. for the recent critiques while simultaneously playing the victim card.
What didn’t Stern do? Apologize for his past comments. The woke mob almost always demands an apology, and a full-throated one at that.
Instead, the Cancel Culture mob hasn’t circled back on Stern following his June 15 statements. Kimmel’s past blackface work on “The Man Show” got ignored, again, by the perpetually aggrieved.
That’s the same mob that forced Kimmel’s late night competition, “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon, to grovel for forgiveness for his own blackface sketch from 2000.
— Holocaust Survivor’s daughter (@Nutsandolts) June 15, 2020
Why would the mob demand an apology from Fallon and not from Kimmel or Stern? Public figures are routinely pressured to apologize -- sometimes more than once.
Just ask Drew Brees.
The reasoning here is complicated, but there’s one element that ties all these cases together.
President Donald J. Trump.
Now, Cancel Culture can be a fickle beast. It looks past some tawdry acts while digging its heels in for lesser infractions. Actor Mario Lopez’s assertion that a three-year-old child might not be qualified to determine his or her gender drew swift, unrelenting blowback.
Meanwhile, a gaggle of stars (Jessica Chastain, Chelsea Handler, Ice Cube and ) displaying anti-Semitic thoughts gets a tut-tut … if anything.
Kimmel and Stern represent something useful to Cancel Culture in 2020. Both stars are rooting against a second term for President Trump. Each uses their platforms to prevent that from happening.
For Kimmel, that means a nightly barrage of anti-Trump material. Some of the punch lines aren’t even accurate, but that hardly matters to Team Kimmel or his progressive fans. He slams President Trump five nights a week from his ABC perch, an in-kind contribution to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.
If that means looking past Kimmel’s Malone impression, or him asking bikini girls to jump on trampolines, so be it. The Atlantic said as much when Kimmel’s past came up a few years ago in a piece called, “Forgiving Jimmy Kimmel.”
It’s a thoroughly modern irony: The host who will set the tone for the #MeToo Oscars got his start on a show that gleefully ogled women.
Stern is a more curious story, though.
The reformed shock jock doesn’t typically get political. Yes, he “ran” for governor in New York a while back, but that was a publicity stunt writ large. He’s often bouncing across the ideological aisle, supporting the Second Amendment one day and trashing conservative Christians the next.
Recently, though, he discovered something valuable to his brand and waning clout. Attacking President Trump is the easiest way to draw fawning media attention.
Voila! Stern is back in the news. See how that works? Now, the Cancel Culture mob may loathe Stern’s bawdy past, replete with offenses that would get him canceled today. They’d rather see him pummel Trump for the next four-plus months than be brought down.
So why did Fallon get pummeled by the mob? The Left turned on Fallon the moment he tousled then-candidate Trump’s hair on “The Tonight Show.” That moment “humanized” the real estate mogul, and progressives have never forgiven him for it.
Plus, Fallon isn’t an anti-Trump warrior in the Kimmel/Stephen Cobert mold. Sure, he picks on Trump more than the average Democrat, but he’s not committed to the task. He’d rather do harmless shtick like impressions an dance parodies.
That’s not enough for Cancel Culture purists.
It’s worth noting that some offenses can’t be saved by Trump bashing, or anything else. Author J.K. Rowling found that out after she shared a defense of biological women on social media. The attempts to cancel Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter universe, have yet to let up.
It didn’t matter that she regularly shared left-of-center views on social media, mocked President Trump and spoke out for gay rights.
Neither Stern nor Kimmel have endured anything like what Rowling experienced in recent days. Here’s betting they won’t, not unless Joe Biden wins the presidency in the Fall. In that case their anti-Trump services may no longer be needed.
UPDATE: Just as this article went live news reports announced that Kimmel’s summer vacation is in response to his blackface controversy. Kimmel didn’t mention any such thing in his vacation reveal, nor has there been a recent effort for him to address the matter.
It’s very likely the media is framing his vacation in this fashion as an attempt at balance. The Daily Mail framed the Kimmel vacation story in that fashion, and TheHill.com (to which I contribute) echoed that narrative. The Hill’s piece quotes a number of conservatives who pointed to Kimmel’s blackface past to showcases the media hypocrisy on display. Conservatives rarely drive the Cancel Culture movements.