I don’t condone “cancel culture,” but the political left seems to be obsessed with it.
A couple of months ago, Hartley Sawyer, who portrayed Ralph Dibny, (alter ego of Elongated Man) on the CW series “The Flash,” was fired from the show after years-old tweets (from 2009-2014) surfaced. Some delicate snowflakes were offended by some of the ways he attempted to be humorous.
Fired, for tweets he made before he was even on the show.
Quarterback Drew Brees was also the target of “cancel culture” after his connection with Focus on the Family triggered bloodthirsty leftists.
So, why hasn’t Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who moderated the final night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, been canceled by the snowflakes on the left yet?
“Cancel Julia Louis-Dreyfus?” you ask. “What for?”
I could mention the handful of Seinfeld episodes that have been deemed “too offensive” by the left today for including jokes about homosexuality, immigration, misogyny, race, and mental illness, amongst other things that have become taboo in recent years. One episode of Seinfeld featured the character Kramer literally stomping on a burning Puerto Rican flag. That episode, titled “The Puerto Rican Day Parade,” resulted in NBC issuing an apology after it aired, and was not included when the show went into syndication.
But I’m still not talking about that. I’m talking about Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s appearance in the 1986 movie Soul Man, about a white teenager (played by C. Thomas Howell) who was accepted to Harvard Law School but after his father refuses to pay his tuition poses as a black student in order to take advantage of a full scholarship offered only to African-Americans. Actor C. Thomas Howell, who is white, dons blackface throughout most of the movie.
Julia’s role in the film is relatively small, but her character shares screentime with the blackface-wearing Howell, as you can see in the clip below.
Last year comedienne/actress Sarah Silverman said she was fired from a movie because her infamous blackface skit from her short-lived show had just resurfaced. “I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part. Then, at 11 p.m. the night before, they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode,” Silverman explained to Bill Simmons on his podcast. “I didn’t fight it. They hired someone else who is wonderful but who has never stuck their neck out. It was so disheartening. It just made me real, real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.”
Silverman had some strong words against cancel culture. “It’s like, if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion. It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.’”
I’m not condoning “cancel culture” by any means. I don’t believe Julia Louis-Dreyfus is racist because of her role in the movie, and the only offensive thing I’ve actually seen her do was that lackluster performance during the Democratic National Convention, but even with that, it’s the terrible writers who deserve blame for writing unfunny and awkward jokes. But the selective enforcement of “cancel culture” essentially proves Sarah Silverman’s point that it has less to do with the act being condemned and more about the self-righteousness of those offended.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, apparently wore blackface multiple times as a young adult, but despite some short-lived outrage, he has managed to survive politically. As has Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia, who either wore blackface or dressed up in a KKK uniform while in medical school, but rode out the scandal anyway. Both these men are liberals in positions of power, and taking power away from them made canceling them inconvenient—so they weren’t.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus may not have worn blackface in the movie Soul Man, but she accepted the role, took the paycheck, and shared screentime with a white actor wearing blackface. She may not have written the now-offensive Seinfeld episodes, but she still earns money from those episodes being in syndication. In the current culture, where if you’re connected to anything deemed racially insensitive you get a target on your back, it’s hard to explain how Julia Louis-Dreyfus has managed to avoid the outrage mob.
Matt Margolis is the author of the new book Airborne: How The Liberal Media Weaponized The Coronavirus Against Donald Trump, and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis