April 30, 2019

ANNALS OF LEFTIST AUTOPHAGY: Cancel Culture Comes for Counterculture Comics. Today it’s creators, not cops, who want to banish R. Crumb, onetime king of the comics underground:

The American culture that R. Crumb and his contemporaries grew up in restricted the ways people could talk about sex, violence, race, and class. The first wave of underground comix artists reacted with metaphorical explosive violence, especially once they realized nothing was stopping them but the constraints of their own minds. That freedom, in all its messiness and ugliness, upset and unnerved and offended many. It also inspired massive amounts of interesting, strange, life-enhancing art, not just in the comics world but in such offshoots of Crumb’s aesthetic as National Lampoon, Saturday Night Live, and The Simpsons.

The attitudes Crumb satirized were real and, he thought, deserving of ridicule via crazed exaggeration. His feelings of hostility toward women are, as he has insisted in his comics and in interviews, true to him (and, he is certain, to many other men). What is to be gained by pretending they’re not? Crumb was honest about being the sort of resentful nebbish who in his pre-fame days saw women as controlling something he desperately wanted and couldn’t have—what would now be called a corrosive “incel” mentality, after the men who self-identify as involuntarily celibate.

In a 1991 interview with The Comics Journal, Crumb said art should be judged not on ideological purity but on whether it is “interesting or boring…honest and truthful and real…saying what’s really on [the artists’] minds.…If it’s really in there it ought to come out on paper.” At the same time, he reflected, “I don’t know, maybe we’re all just dragging society down. Maybe we should all be locked up.”

The paradox of liberal tolerance remains: Neither the transgressors nor the offended have a right to force the other side to just shut up about what its members think, feel, or imagine. The two are intimately linked in a mutually frustrating tango. The offended want certain expressions to go away or be universally recognized as unacceptable, and the transgressors want a social space to express themselves without feeling driven from society.

Read the whole thing. I’m so old, I can remember when the left celebrated the 1970s for all of its radical changes to society. Eventually though, all of its pop culture will be airbrushed out of existence, as left’s overculture goes full-on Mao.

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