Truth tellers are a dying breed in our Fake News age.
We’ve seen that up close in the news media. Reporters warp reality until even left-wing fact checkers are blowing the whistle.
CNN’s Debate Performance was Villainous -- Rolling Stone https://t.co/u5fyBLY8xb
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) January 15, 2020
Something similar is happening on the comedy front. Truth no longer sets the agenda. The agenda is now the agenda. The Johnny Carson model hit the circular file during the 2016 presidential campaign, and no network wants to retrieve it.
That allows late night comics to spend two years yukking it up over the Russian conspiracy hoax sans apology. It lets the Kimmels and Colberts of late night TV ignore egregious truth benders like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Meanwhile, they train all their fire power on conservatives over both real and imagined falsehoods.
Anyone who gets too close to uncomfortable truths is quickly scolded. Remember how Judd Apatow, arguably the most powerful comedy producer in Hollywood, slammed Louis C.K. for suggesting traumatized teens aren’t the most reliable voices in the gun control debate?
The truth still emerges, and when it does the culture lets out a long, exhilarating breath. And sometimes that truth comes from unexpected places.
Way back in 2015 comedian Jerry Seinfeld set the comedy world ablaze. He didn’t reboot his classic “Seinfeld” sitcom. He simply told the truth about the scolds who dominate college campuses to radio talker Colin Cowherd.
“I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me, ‘Don’t go near colleges. They’re so PC.’”
Seinfeld says teens and college-aged kids don’t understand what it means to throw around certain politically-correct terms. “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist;’ ‘That’s sexist;’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” he said. “They don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.”
That interview set off a firestorm, long before someone coined the term “Cancel Culture.” Some savaged Seinfeld, saying he was behind the times. Many people, including some comedians, cheered on his confession.
That interview dominated the news cycle. Readers couldn’t get enough of it, and for good reason.
Seinfeld is no one’s idea of a shock comic. He’s squeaky clean and typically avoids the political scrum. If he had enough of woke college crowds, it meant something.
The culture’s frustration with woke rules only grew over the years despite Seinfeld’s battle cry. Comedians either self-censored or quickly buckled when cuffed by the PC police.
Then along came Dave Chappelle.
The comedian angered woke media outlets along with the trans community for daring to tell jokes about its latter. That put Chappelle on the PC Police’s radar, a position that clearly intrigued him.
He delved deeper into the reaction to those jokes, along with other red hot buttons issues (abortion, gun control and more) in his 2019 special “Sticks and Stones.”
Chappelle is no Seinfeld. He didn’t just name check a disputed topic. He went all in, dedicating a large swath of his Netflix special to subjects few dared touch.
The most obvious example: His mockery of the “alphabet people,” or the LGBTQ community.
Once again the PC crowd shrieked in fury. So did a fair number of media outlets, attempting to shame him into an apology. You can’t tell those jokes, they cried.
Chappelle ignored them all, and he’s still standing. They tried, and failed, to cancel him.
Which brings us to a comic who refuses to apologize for jokes. Ricky Gervais signed up to host the Golden Globes ceremony for the fifth and last time a few weeks back. He didn’t hold back on game day, blasting Hollywood hypocrites who turn their acceptance speeches into woke lectures.
The reverberations of that monologue aren’t over yet.
Why did all three men leave a mark on the culture? It’s simple. They shared unspoken truths, letting the rest of us silently cheer right along. Progressive forces want these thoughts banned from polite society, be it college campuses or comedy stages.
Seinfeld, Chappelle and Gervais had had enough.
If Cancel Culture goes the way of the 8-track tape in 2020, we all can thank these comedians for making it happen.