In a January 19th interview with Neil Cavuto, my congressional representative Madison Cawthorn said cancel culture was “a dark path the left is going down.”
Thirteen days earlier, wearing a tweed jacket and leather glove ensemble straight from the Dr. Elsa Schneider collection for boys, Cawthorn sat on stage in front of a crowd of people who would eventually storm The Capital, destroy government property, and kill a police officer and said…well, honestly he said nothing of substance. Cawthorn is pretty adept at saying a lot without saying anything. Still, people called on him to be expelled from congress and “cancelled” for this behavior,, and yet, he’s still my representative. He’s still a member of Congress despite having the lack of judgment required to speak at that January 6th rally. He’s still a member of Congress despite numerous sources pointing out that large parts of his origin story aren’t true. He’s still a member of Congress despite reports of sexually inappropriate conduct, alleged Nazi fetishization, and the fact that there’s more substance in whatever product he uses to get that hair so unmovable than there is in anything he says.
On August 11, 2020, Cawthorn tweeted, “Cancel Culture doesn’t work on this New Generation of Conservatives. And that terrifies the Left.” In a way he’s very right. If cancel culture was a real thing, we wouldn’t have just been subjected to four years of Donald Trump as our President. The man has been accused of sexual assault 22 times. He’s filed for bankruptcy twice. He’s repeatedly called veterans losers. Donald Trump lost this past election. But he wasn’t canceled. Joe Biden got more votes. Though Cawthorn was trying to position himself as a victim with his August 11 tweet, it actually points out a scary reality: Trump and his minions are more or less uncancelable.
And yet…I’ve seen many a Facebook acquaintance in the past month bemoan the dangers of cancel culture. They seem to be getting most of their inspiration from your Matt Gaetzes, Donald Trump Juniors, and Tucker Carlsons of the world, prominent Republicans who claim to understand business yet who still have careers despite not really seeming to know how business works. One would think that if you don’t understand how business works as a prominent Republican, and cancel culture is destroying the world, then you’d be canceled. But none of those men are. Because cancel culture isn’t real. It’s something people like Cawthorn and the Cat’s Cradle three use to cast themselves as victims because they can’t make actual logical arguments. Allow me to elaborate.
The “cancellations” of Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head seemed to rile the people of Facebook and Cat’s Cradle trio up most. Whether or not these individuals read Dr. Seuss or thought about Mr. Potato Head in any capacity in the past twenty years is a conversation for another day. The decisions to not publish six of Dr. Seuss’s books and make Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral are not the byproducts of cancel culture’s over-zealous leftist ideology. They are business decisions. It’s capitalism at work.
For those of you lucky enough to be living under a rock, the estate of Dr. Seuss decided to stop the publication of six of his earlier books that had examples of racist stereotypes in them. No one was looking for Theodore Geisel’s head on a pike. No one was freaking out because he invented the War on Christmas via The Grinch. No one was asking the estate to stop production of Green Eggs and Ham, The Lorax, or The Cat in the Hat, what I’d bet good money are the only Dr. Seuss books anyone bitching about his cancellation on social media could name. The estate took it upon themselves last year to reevaluate some of his work they found offensive and outdated because actual grown adults who can think critically and value education will occasionally reevaluate or self-audit to see if they could do better (which is very much in the spirit of why people love Dr. Seuss). Also, Dr. Seuss is doing just fine. The only dead celebrity that made more money last year than Dr. Seuss was Michael Jackson.
Then there’s Potato Head, hold the Mr. While he may not use his former moniker, Potato Head lives on. He hasn’t been cancelled. He’s been rebranded. It happens all the time. And plus, the Mr. and Mrs. aren’t really going anywhere. Per Fast Company,
On Thursday, after Hasbro faced a wave of backlash from consumers resistant to this change, it clarified on Twitter that it would continue to sell individual Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys. The difference is that the brand name and the family sets will be gender neutral to promote more inclusivity. Indeed, images Hasbro released of these boxed sets portray families on the packaging with two dads and two moms, along with a heterosexual couple.
The same article goes on to say that, “It’s a prime example of the way heritage toy brands are evolving to stay relevant in the 21st century.” See that? Relevant. The company is doing what the customers want in order to make money. Companies like Hasbro don’t just make these kinds of decisions flippantly. There would’ve been a lot of thought, discussion, and market research to ensure that evolving the brand to stay relevant would lead to sales. And for those of you bemoaning how this goes against how things always were? Capitalism doesn’t care. Especially because companies that promote diversion and inclusivity make more money. And gendering toys was a marketing scheme to begin with.
It’s wild how the biggest proponents of capitalism don’t seem to understand how it works. And it’s wild that my congressional rep, something that happens when an Instagram filter is applied to Rolfe of “16 Going on 17” infamy, was exposed for lying about his acceptance at the Naval Academy, yet still beat a real military veteran in the 2020 election. It’s even wilder that anyone with half a brain thinks cancel culture exists.