The Saratoga Sun -

Who cancelled what now?


March 24, 2021

I’ve been hearing that there’s some outrage about cancel culture and that we need to “cancel cancel culture” and, honestly, I couldn’t agree more.

The disservice that was done to The Dixie Chicks (now The Chicks) in the early 2000s after they simply expressed their opinion is shameful. Whether or not you agreed with their comments, having their careers effectively ended for a decade and being blacklisted from country music was just wrong.

Wait, we’re not talking about that?

So we must be talking about how Colin Kaepernick was effectively banned from the National Football League following his public protests of police brutality by kneeling during the National Anthem. I mean, agree with his opinion or not, he obviously has that right and it was unacceptable that he was pushed out of professional sports for expressing it.

Oh, we’re not talking about that either?

Are we talking about the attempt to cancel Dungeons & Dragons in the 1980s? The push to cancel Harry Potter in the 1990s and 2000s? Trying to cancel businesses for saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

No? None of that?

Then what are we talking about?

Oh, we must be talking about how the estate of Theodor Giesell (Dr. Seuss) made the decision to stop printing six of his books such as “And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry Street” because of racist images.

Well, now that you mention it, I do remember reading that book to my son a few weeks ago. When I came to an image of an Asian man with a stereotypical conical hat, two lines for eyes and eating a bowl of rice with chopsticks I wasn’t quite sure how to handle that.

Another book that Gisell’s estate has decided not to continue publishing is “If I Ran The Zoo” which depicts two “Africans” in grass skirts with emphasized facial features such as their lips and nose, among other racial stereotypes.

I’ve heard the comments that these books are a “product of their time” which, to a point, I understand. I won’t go so far as to say that people in the 1930s and 1950s didn’t know any better, but I understand that it was widely accepted at that time. Does that mean, however, that it should still be accepted now?

While we’re talking about things that used to be acceptable but shouldn’t be accepted now, how about we talk about “cancelling” Pepe Le Pew from the new “Space Jam” movie.

To be honest, I didn’t even know that a new “Space Jam” movie was coming out until about two weeks ago but apparently a decision was made not to include the animated skunk in the movie.

Now, according to the Wikipedia entry for the character, Pepe Le Pew is “constantly on the quest for love”.

I suppose that’s one way to put it.

While I loved watching Looney Tunes as a young child—Bugs Bunny in drag was my first introduction to opera—looking back at some of them now does cause me to cringe a little bit.

High among those is Pepe Le Pew and his, ahem, quest for love. His quest, in case some of you don’t remember, involves aggressively pursuing a cat who looks like a skunk. Very aggressively, despite the other party’s obvious resistance to his very physical advances.

That is literally Pepe Lew Pew’s only personality trait.

Yet, it’s not like there was some online petition to have the character removed from “Space Jam 2”. Rather it was the decision of the director—similar to how it was the decision of Dr. Suess’ estate to cease publishing six books—to not include Pepe Le Pew in the first place.

At the end of the day, this idea of cancel culture coming for Dr. Suess and Pepe Le Pew and very outdated Warner Brothers or Disney cartoons isn’t really that big of an issue.

Really, it’s the free market at work.


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