With the threat of cancel culture at every turn, those in the public eye are now turning to the only religion left they’re confident will save them: wokeness.
With every news media cycle comes another example, and those who are pushing back are denigrated and ridiculed for doing so. Let’s be clear: while there’s no need for cancel culture in a society of diverse thought and free expression, there’s a definite need for accountability.
But in many cases, those who have genuinely committed wrongs are so eager to get in front of their own cancellation, they make themselves look absolutely ridiculous in the process. As we can see in a few notable instances — even when they do kowtow to the altar of the fervent mob — the backlash is as swift as it is severe, proving what some are already beginning to find out: this ideologically-dominating authority demanding such penance from its followers is one that’s likely never to be satisfied.
Lady A Versus Anita White
Popular country group Lady Antebellum, finding the word “antebellum” too oppressive to associate with their artistry, decided to take the necessary steps to officially change their name to Lady A, which they claim fans have already been calling them for years.
Antebellum means "existing before the American Civil War."
It remains to be seen whether this pronouncement had the effect on their fan base the group thought it would have, i.e., overwhelmingly supportive comments of encouragement and admiration for the now-woke country group and their dedication to anti-racism. Mostly, it elicited eye rolls from the rest of us not as readily convinced.
Now, the trio is embroiled in a $10 million legal battle with Anita White, a black blues singer who has used Lady A as her professional name since 1987.
Though hilarity was probably not the response the country group was aiming for, it’s almost hard not to recognize the absurdity of it all. In their quest to satisfy the dogma of political correctness, the group singlehandedly ripped away the livelihood of a black, female solo artist, who has, by her own words, had to “grind harder” than more popular groups, such as the country group. White is also concerned that the band’s huge popularity leaves little space for her own expression, a genuine concern for a solo artist in such a genre.
Cancelling the Wokest Musical of All
For some who haven’t already attempted to get ahead of the mob, they’ve been graded by their commitment to woke culture, and, by the majority’s measure, have failed miserably.
Look no further than Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton, which is now streaming on Disney+ as of this month.
It was only a matter of time before this group’s most ardent followers came for the founding father without a father or, more specifically, for Miranda himself. For many, the chance to see the musical on a streaming platform was the perfect opportunity to see a show which has broken countless records and racked up awards and accolades. For others, it was a slap in the face of progressivism.
The main argument is the depiction of the founding fathers in the show, and their very real and historical ties to the propulsion of slavery in the creation of the American government. While Miranda’s production does touch briefly on this, for some the mere allusion of it is enough to cancel the show from the site altogether.
Can You Appease a Mob?
Miranda’s production is one rife with creative genius and intentional choices, most noticeably in the casting of its characters. Miranda and his producers were extremely vocal in the show’s infant stages about the casting of people of color, and how this creative choice would reframe realities of the past we’re less than comfortable with. Many view the entire show as a trailblazing production for people of color in the musical theater industry, and one that has set the stage for other progressive expressions along the same vein.
All of this is to be ignored, and even denigrated, if Miranda and his show will be sacrificed at the altar of controversy. Miranda and all those involved with Hamilton shouldn’t have even tried, according to those large and in charge of forging the movement to get it removed from widespread consumption.
And then, there’s “Lady A.” While the adjective itself, antebellum (which simply means “existing before the American Civil War”), continues to be used to describe everything from architecture, literature, and fashion, its racist connotations were too onerous for the country trio to even be associated with. Looking at the country music industry, which is often criticized for its lack of representation, it’s no wonder the group felt they had to succumb to the demands of political correctness. But for those of us who recognize the irony, the end result leaves nothing but a bad taste in our mouths.
Once upon a time, wokeness may have come from an authentic intention of aiming to be as inclusive and representative as possible, and furthermore, recognizing our own shortcomings and biases within that context.
But it’s since become its own animal and broken through the chains that contained it, evolving into something too large and overwhelming to grasp. Even more, it’s an animal that’s altogether impossible to satisfy.
Even when overt wokeness is attempted and supposedly accomplished, as we’ve seen by these examples and countless others, it will never be enough.