Without a doubt, we live in a time where people are canceling media from the past for notable reasons like underage inappropriateness, racism, misogyny, gender bias, and prejudices concerning the LGBTQ+ community. Looking objectively, I acknowledge and understand why people would not support watching some media offenders today.
Those Were the Days
For example, my father loved a TV show — All in the Family. I only knew after he retired and bought the DVD set. It’s a show he grew up watching, and as he was slowly losing his mind to dementia, it was something he suddenly gravitated to as familiar.
I’m confident he made memories watching it with his dad, who he often spoke about as his hero. Nonetheless, I had no desire to watch the show.
It was from a different time in history when I wasn’t alive. Since then, some of the humor from the show isn’t something I can understand or confidently laugh at with my present-day mindset and understanding of race and misogyny.
But I understand why he loved it. It’s a part of his personal history, where he had made good memories with his pops. It doesn’t take away from the reality that times have since changed, but nostalgia and memories are attached to things in everyone’s lives — which deserves a little grace.
I’m uncertain if that deeper level of understanding only comes with life experience— one day, the things you made memories doing, watching, singing, and celebrating will also come under fire as the world evolves into new ideals.
More recently, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective has come under fire because of insensitivity to the trans community. I watched that movie more times than I can count.
I remember seeing it in the theaters with a friend in high school who later imitated and mimicked Jim Carrey when reenacting scenes. We laughed so much over the following months with it.
My sister and I had a VHS copy and watched it every night for an entire summer. That movie was a massive deal — at that time in history. Everyone was talking about it. I still laugh at that film; it doesn’t make me a bigot. Nonetheless, I understand why they wouldn’t make that film today.
We didn’t have an out-and-proud trans community when that movie premiered. I didn’t even know what being trans was. I’ve since been enlightened and understand why some people would not appreciate the humor in that film — and why others will still watch it.
Humor Is Subjective
Whenever I watch standup comedy and the comedian makes jokes about childhood sexual abuse (CSA), I don’t find them funny. A couple have landed harshly enough for me to feel a twinge of hostility.
As a survivor, that makes sense. On the other hand, many survivors find humor in it and laugh through the pain. People are different and respond to life’s circumstances differently, and we need to stop addressing entire groups of people as monolithic.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
There are Black people who laugh at All in the Family and trans people who laugh at Ace Ventura. But those people are nearly impossible to hear — over the loud opposition regarding that reality from both sides of the label gun.
It shouldn’t be all or nothing, black and white, right or wrong —life has a middle area, and some circumstances fall in between.
It’s a strange phenomenon — this culture of canceling — because they are redefining humor. What you could laugh at yesterday, they will ostracize and label you for laughing at today.
Unironically, some cancel culture advocates are alright with supporting and laughing at jokes, skits, and other media that are offensive to Jesus Christ and his followers. Why is that not held in the same light — bigoted?
How is one funny and the other not? I’ve yet to connect those dots. They want you to understand and respect their plight in life but are unwilling to extend the same olive branch.
On the other hand, some of the people who are against canceling movies and loudly detest — cancel culture — are happily advocating for banning books. When will the hypocrisy end and the desire to understand each other begin?
We need to find some grace in understanding one another so we can stop being divided by these culture war distractions over past media and come together on more significant present-day issues.
Of course, I’m saying this from my own place of hypocrisy when I sometimes write monolithic-style articles because it pays the bills, and it’s all you will click. You say you want positive and uplifting, but analytics prove otherwise. How do we move away from this?
Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and spirituality.