Cancel Culture & Louis CK’s Return

Are we capable of social redemption?

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I was asked to provide cultural insight commentary for an entertainment reporter’s piece on Louis CK’s comedic return. My thoughts to their request…

The fact that Louis CK is going on tour does not imply that cancel culture is over, it’s far from it, but rather it reveals that a potential path to social redemption may be created for those that have been canceled.

Louis’ career and reputation will never be the same again. Deserved or not, depending upon who you ask. But in either case, there may be enough remaining fans to pave a road for a continued career. The success or failure of his tour though should not entirely be viewed through the lens of the severity of what he did and if he even paid the price for it, but also through the lens of if, culturally, we’re capable of forgiveness in 2020.

Broadly speaking in cancel culture, a tension exists where we must condemn both inappropriate and illegal behavior, yet simultaneously, we must allow anyone who feels compelled to engage with a “canceled” party to do so. No lone individual can be the arbiter of who allows Louis to get back on stage or who can buy his tickets.

These are incredibly difficult, ambiguous and nuanced cultural dilemmas, and therefore don’t allow for one-size-fit-all nor perfect return stories. Accordingly, not every “canceled” party can merely wait for a return as if nothing happened. Each and every case is entirely unique. But, what’s worth noting in this particular case is Louis’ role in society. He’s a comic, which fortunately or unfortunately, once again depending upon what side you’re on, provides a different level of leniency than most.

As the witch-hunt of cancel culture proceeds, it’s worth noting that the original motives behind boycotts are being co-opted as more egotistical virtue signaling opportunities. Cancel culture is becoming a game of points and convenient social posturing. And it’s this that should really be canceled next.

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