• Dwan L. Hearn

The Moon vs Cancel Culture

This blog entry has been a long time coming. This entry has been the topic of private conversations between myself and my friends for years now. In light of recent events, it’s clear to me that the time for this entry is now.

Now, this isn’t really a political post, but I feel that the following aspects of my political views are noteworthy to the primary subject matter.

I believe that a government’s responsibility, first and foremost, is to provide and protect its people when the need arises. I also believe in what’s called the “free market”. Free Market, in short, is the idea that businesses live or die on the patronage of the consumer. If a business does well, the business should thrive and thrive more abundantly. If not, it should force itself to change or fall to the wayside.

In this era of social media, we see “free market thinking” everywhere when it comes to the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of businesses. Websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can tell you, in star ratings, how good or bad the service of a restaurant or hotel is. Your friend can share with you, and all 500+ of their friends, exactly how dirty a business was, or go live and showcase how well an event is being executed. And with a click of a button, you can share that with 500+ of your friends and they can share it and so on and so on. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly side of a one-time occurrence or a long-time practice can be broadcasted to thousands of people and judgments made.

What began so humbly as “customer reviews” has morphed over time. The humble customer review had an affair with our 24/7 news cycle and the resulting offspring has been neglected and poorly raised by not only their parents, but their horrible babysitter, The General Public. This offspring has grown to express themselves in a horrible, aggressive, and often bitter way. This offspring has assumed the power to take down empires, rock entire industries to their core, and destroy people’s livelihoods. This offspring’s name is Cancel Culture.

Dictionary.com defines “Cancel Culture” as “withdrawing support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive”. In short, it’s when the masses gather together to object or “cancel” someone from their platform of popularity. There have been many “victims” of Cancel Culture. Celebrities like Bill Cosby, producers like Harvey Weinstein, inanimate television icons like “The General Lee” from TV’s “The Dukes of Hazzard”, country music stars like Morgan Wallen, and plenty of others. I’ll touch on many of these cases.

Now, I have to be honest - I agree with the GENERAL stance behind Cancel Culture and its original intention with that intention being to rid our society of those people whose behaviors are no longer indicative of our society’s values. We have to acknowledge a clear truth: Things aren’t what they used to be. And it really shouldn’t be. Over the years, we have become more and more of a global society. With the invention of the Internet, smartphones, and the evolution of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, the average person has access to a wealth of not only knowledge and information, but access to other people’s life experiences. This has made us more aware of what the average person is going through at any given moment in time.

Not only have we collectively connected more than ever before in the history of our planet (as overused as that expression is, in this context, it’s absolutely true), but we’ve acknowledged the average struggle. Struggles with mental health and social injustice are no longer secretive issues. We’ve gone from never talking to the “crazy guy in the class” to openly discussing the effects of mental illness. We can now expose crooked police officers and private citizens who violate people’s civil rights to the entire world in 4K.

These tools, in the hands of average people, have inspired these inclusive changes. “Free Market Thinking” has essentially come to keep people honest and expose terribly damaging and traumatizing practices and remove them for the sake of future generations.

Wait a minute. You said Cancel Culture was this terrible monster bastard child and now you’re singing its praises?

You are just insufferable sometimes. Can you just be patient?

I guess…

Thank you… now, where was I? Ah, yes -

Now, there are two primary examples of when Cancel Culture reared its head for the betterment of society. These were, as the movements are known, The #MeToo Movement and the #SpeakingOut Movement.

The MeToo Movement was a social movement where women of all ages, races, religions, and occupations, exposed just how prevalent sexual assault was, not only in the world of Hollywood but in life itself. During this movement, many actors, both women and men, openly discussed, some of them for the very first time out loud, their stories of assault and the effects these events have had on their careers and lives. Some of their stories were about how their careers were impacted or delayed because of what they weren’t willing to do.

Personally, this wasn’t the most painful part of MeToo. It was the stories shared by lifelong friends, family, co-workers, and strangers (yes, for some reason, strangers have shared with me the most horrendous parts of their history with me), again both women and men, that affected me the most. To hear these stories opened my eyes to a lot of things and gave me the opportunity to evaluate my own past and reflect on whether some of my “just joking around” behaviors might have had lasting effects on some of the people around me.

If at any point my behavior has ever made you feel uncomfortable or insecure or even violated, I’m deeply sorry.

Unless, of course, I made you feel uncomfortable about the current state of race relations by bringing your attention to injustices happening around the world… I meant that shit!

The #SpeakingOut Movement was basically the same thing, but it was more specifically in the Wrestling Community. This move by Cancel Culture was geared to remove the toxic, abusive, and sometimes predatory behaviors from professional wrestling. While any fan of wrestling during what’s known as the Attitude Era can attest to, wrestling hasn’t always been friendly to the female participants of the industry.

From the times of Evening Gown matches, Bikini contests, Swimming-Pools-filled-with-mud matches, women’s wrestling as evolved greatly a place where the biggest event of the year can be headlined by a one-on-one match for the Women’s Championship to even all-women’s events on Pay-Per-View where the skills of the women are showcased and respected in the same light as the men. To ensure that women are not prayed upon behind-the-scenes is equally important and no true fan wants that in our industry. Cancel Culture shined a light on performers who have behaved questionably in the past and allowed the companies they now worked for to evaluate what to do next. Some were fired and blackballed from the industry while others were forced to face their wrongdoings and make amends.

*deep sigh*

Now, while these are some examples of how Cancel Culture has used “free-market thinking” to decide whether or not we, the general public, were going to support questionable people and actively try to clean up the dirty practices that have served as the worst kept secrets in our society, there have been far too many occasions where the power of Cancel Culture has been abused.

For a moment, I want to bring your attention to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible'' and its plot: a group of girls in 17th Century Colonial America were caught dancing, an act that was forbidden and viewed as satanic, by the town Reverend. In fear of getting in trouble, the girls have blamed witchcraft for their behaviors, an incredibly serious accusation in that era. The town takes these claims seriously and when names are dropped as to who was bewitching them, the town starts a-hanging.

Realizing her newfound power, Abigail points a finger at whoever crosses her path that she doesn’t like, including Goody (Mrs.) Proctor, the wife of the man she once worked for and had an affair with. Abigail abuses this trust and power the town has bestowed upon her to enact vengeance, whether it was justly due or not.

The reason I bring this story up (by the way, if you’ve never seen the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder then you should. One of my Top 10 favorites. Maybe I’ll do that blog next - my top 10 favorite movies and why… we’ll see) is because this is exactly how Cancel Culture has been behaving. Former President Barack Obama once said in 2019, “People who do really good things have flaws.” [ https://twitter.com/i/status/1189349299118727168 - this should link to a link of the full quote for context as to why he said this. I wanted to ensure this didn’t fall into the “There were good people on both sides” quote from former President Donald Trump in response to the Charlottesville racist protest. While the generalities of both quotes may ring true, because hell, maybe those tiki torch-carrying racists donate hundreds of dollars to feed the hungry, but when you’re also currently and actively racist - it’s hard to look the other way.] I look at this message and I’d like to expand on that, if I may.

While “Good people have flaws” is important to note, it’s better to think of this: If I spend every day becoming a better version of myself than I was yesterday, I must acknowledge the flaws of who I was then.” - Quote by Me - and it rings true. Today, as I’m typing this, I am quickly approaching my 38th Birthday. If I look back at my life, do you think I am the same man I was at 30? Or at 28 (ten years ago)? Or at 18 (twenty years ago)? Of course not! I’ve seen some things. I’ve heard some things. I’ve experienced some things. Life has happened. If you are the exact same person on the inside today as you were 10 years ago, I’ll just say it - You’ve Fucked Up! No one should be the same person as they were last week, much less 10 years ago. And yet, as I believe most people would agree that they aren’t the same person as they once were, Cancel Culture doesn’t seem to extend that same grace. Allow me to clarify.

In 2018, comedian Kevin Hart was hit by Cancel Culture as he was gearing up to be the next host of the Academy Awards. Days after being announced as the next host, an old tweet he posted on Twitter from 2011 resurfaced. The tweet said: Yo if my son comes home & trys 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’. [ I shared that as it was originally tweeted]. That time span was seven years.

The Academy told Hart that he could either apologize or they’ll have to go in a different direction and find another host. Hart felt that this was an old issue and he didn’t want to give into Cancel Culture so he declined to apologize. He still would eventually apologize, going on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show to address it. This would not settle the masses as they wanted his apology a certain way. You can watch this unfold on the Netflix docu-series “Don’t F**k This Up”, Episode 6. In this episode, you can see how Kevin Hart felt about the situation, how it affected him, and how it affected the people who worked for him, including Carli Haney, an executive at Kevin Hart’s production company Hartbeat Productions, who is also a member of LGBTQ community. She discussed that although the situation didn’t immediately change how she saw him due to their long-standing relationship, it did impact how other people around her viewed her and her association with Hart.

It didn’t click to Hart until someone explained to him exactly what it was that the masses were looking for, how not saying that impacted the views of him, and what that translated and why.

All this for a seven-year-old tweet.

Now, most people are over Cancel Culture. As I mentioned before, this has been the subject of conversation for a while now between myself and many friends, especially since this happened to a close friend of mine. The long and short of it - a few “shit starting” posts, made in jest, were misinterpreted, and instead of going directly to said friend, as I did, and tell them how the post affected me, others decided to take screenshots, post them without context, and blast him publicly as a racist, all at a time that racist tension in the city was at its highest. This would lead to people disassociating with him solely because they couldn’t risk the connection.

Although this was something I tried hard to help him through, he wasn’t the reason for this entry. He, like Hart, accepted the fault in what he did and/or said and just moved on with life despite the effects of Cancel Culture. But now, it seems like Cancel Culture has locked on to its next target, the beloved game show, Jeopardy!

On November 8th, 2020, the world lost its most beloved game show host to cancer. In his absence, many celebrities such as former Jeopardy champion, Ken Jennings, NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and actor LeVar Burton held down the famous lectern, not to replace, but to honor the memory of a man who was such an important part of my childhood and, if I’m being open and honest, an important part of my life.

The guest host all acknowledged that no one could replace such an iconic man, it would be inevitable that, if the show was to go on, someone would eventually have to be installed as the new host of Jeopardy. When that time came, two people were named. Jeopardy executive producer Mike Richards and actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, Ph.D. And of course, no wholesome moment could pass without Cancel Culture rearing its ugly head trying to attack these two.

It’d be wrong of me not to ensure this point is very clearly stated. Everyone has done something wrong in their past. I am no exception. I’ve had my Cancel Culture worthy moments growing up, but here’s the thing: I have grown. I’ve had the benefit of talking to people and learning the impact of my mistakes and actively changing my ways to no longer be that person AND ensuring that I raise my children to be better global citizens than me. Does that change the impact on those people in my past? Probably not, and I’m again, incredibly sorry if any of my actions have had those effects on anyone, but although I’m apologetic and I actively work toward change, there is little to nothing I can do about the past. All I or anyone else can do is recognize their mistakes, correct them if possible, and work to never make those same mistakes again. This is called being human.

On August 20th, 2021, Mike Richards stepped down as the new host of Jeopardy. 2021, just keep that in mind. Why did he step down you ask...more so, what is Cancel Culture holding over his head? Glad you asked. Let me tell you.

In 2013, Mike Richards started a podcast called “The Randumb Show” and on that show, he would make several unsavory comments from calling a woman who was an actress and a model “booth ho”, “booth slut” and “boothstitute” (Context: he was Executive Producer for The Price is Right at the time of the comment and I think that’s the source of the “booth” thing), he seemingly fired a model after finding out she was pregnant (how dare models have kids), he judged pictures of some of those models saying the woman and he friends “...really looked frumpy and overweight” and “they all look terrible in the picture… they look fat and not good”, using derogatory words for little people and mentally disabled persons, and singling out for praise two White male hosts because, quote, “I like, you know, the average White-guy host”

Now, I can see how these comments can be problematic, no doubt, but these comments are seven or eight years old. 2013 and 2014. It’s 2021. Life can happen in eight years. He has since issued an apology that says, in part, “It is humbling to confront a terribly embarrassing moment of misjudgment, thoughtlessness, and insensitivity from nearly a decade ago. Looking back now, there is no excuse, of course, for the comments I made on this podcast and I am deeply sorry.”

I have a question to ask, but I’ll wait a minute before asking it… hold tight and keep going…

After Richards stepped down, it seemed natural that they’d move Bialik into the role. Full disclaimer - she is who I wanted to host the show anyway. I’ve loved her since she starred as Blossom and I loved her character on The Big Bang Theory. But, here comes Cancel Culture showing us why we can’t have nice things.

The claims against Bialik state that she supports toxic, false, and highly dangerous views about gender, sexuality, health, and science. We should note that she is an ACTUAL neuroscientist. What are they saying that she said? Man, you’re on a roll… let me tell ya.

In 2009, Bialik spoke with People magazine and said that her family was a “non-vaccinating” one. (Do I have to note that this statement has nothing to do with COVID since COVID-19 would be 10 years away? Do I? I hope not.). She’s quoted as saying, “We based [our decision] on research and discussions with our pediatrician and we’ve been happy with that decision.”

In 2010, Bialik, speaking to Self magazine, is quoted saying, “There are those among us who believe that if the baby can’t survive a home labor, it is OK for it to pass peacefully. I do not subscribe to this, but I know that some feel that… if a baby cannot make it through birth, it is not favored evolutionarily.”

2009 and 2010. 11 and 12 years ago. She has since backtracked these views, including putting out a video last year saying she would take the COVID vaccine when it was available. About her family's vaccinations, she said, “As of today, my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have, but my children are vaccinated.” Further reading shared that it isn’t the effectiveness of vaccines she has an issue with, unlike so many people today, she has an issue with the number of vaccines children get.

She also got some heat from an op-ed she wrote for the New York Times, where, amongst other things, she stated, “I have always had an uncomfortable relationship with being employed in an industry that profits on the objectification of women.” She also adds that her wise choices of dressing modestly and not being flirty aided in protecting her from the Weinstein-equse predators. This didn’t sit well with many actresses that noted that their modest attire didn’t discourage the assaults they experienced. The op-ed was in 2017.

So, here comes the question I have that I alluded to earlier: What exactly do you want from them? Not just Richards or Bialik or Hart - from anyone. What exactly do you want from them? What do you want them to do, exactly? People make mistakes or hold a different view based on a different life experience. Some people were taught a certain way and believe things that aren’t actually true, but were true for them. What is the proper course of action for correction?

In my world, if someone says something sideways, I address them directly. I’ve discussed previously how I deal with being told “You’re the Whitest Black person I know” or “You’re not Black, you’re totally a White Person” [Note: If you ever think about saying that, DON’T. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s DEEPLY insulting and even if you think I’ll catch a laugh because I’m specifically telling you not to - I will not. That shit is NOT funny. White People, stop saying that shit to intelligent, articulate, educated, law-abiding Black people. It’s not okay. Ever. EVER. Stop it!] and I handle most situations the same way. I’ll tell you directly that something you said or did came across negatively or maybe not in the manner you intended. My aforementioned friend got “canceled” because he noticed the similarities between current events and a movie. He made a movie reference and while I don’t think I ever sat through the whole movie, I knew the movie well enough to catch the reference. Others did not and with the posts all shared as one image, without the discussions in the comments section for context, he was branded. Another friend privately shared with me a time in his life when he was, by his own admission, racist until he became close with a Black man and he realized the error in his upbringing.

It’s unavoidable. In today’s world, everything is public record. Every mistake you make has the potential to destroy your life or your family’s life and it doesn’t seem to matter if that’s in ten minutes or ten years. This is wrong. Period. This kind of behavior negates one’s personal growth. And if we’re just going to piss on someone’s personal growth, what incentive does one have to learn from their mistakes and grow from them? If I made a mistake or behaved poorly ten years ago, learned from my mistake and made changes today, and ran for public office ten years from now, should I be taken to task over issues over twenty years prior? Would you want to be held to task for every mistake you made 10, 15, or 20 years ago?

In closing, I want people to really think about the power held in Cancel Culture and how recklessly it’s wielded. Again, I feel that “free market thinking” and consumer power are important; I believe that the individual voice should be heard. I believe in the First Amendment and the power of protest and the power of the Collective. And if that power is wielded to correct an active wrong, more power to them. But to dig into someone past 7, 10, 20 years, you’re battling metaphorically dead people, because people change. We have to learn better ways to hold people accountable in the current moment and once that time has passed, it’s gone. That may not hold up for cold case murders, but if the guy is trying to host the Oscars or host a game show, let the old dogs lie.

- The Moon

By the way, you’ll never cancel Eminem.

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