Cancel Culture

Sorry, Pepe Le Pew, you are canceled! The devilish little skunk, who has been romantically chasing after Penelope Pussycat for way too long, cannot seem to take “No” for an answer. 

So, Looney Tunes, which created him in the 1950s, has had enough of those womanizing ways! No more cartoon reruns of the relentless pursuits. We are a modern society and will not put up with these displays of inappropriate behavior. I am not sure that Pepe was ever a role model, but men (and boys), please do not follow the Le Pew plan of courtship because it will not end well!

Our culture is moving into a “cancel” mode at alarming speed. Philosophers and historians claim this is nothing new, societies continually evolve, change their collective attitudes and constantly redefine what is acceptable and what is considered “wrong.” 

Yes, we can see that the “norms” of behavior in our society 50 years ago are no longer appropriate. We have changed — and mostly for the better. We don’t want to label people in oppressive terms. We want freedom, respect and dignity to be the standard for each of us to enjoy. But how does an advanced society decide what needs to be “tweaked” to uphold our core values, and what (or who) needs to be canceled? We are on that slippery slope.

Can a society keep pieces of the past without offending our current sensibilities? Disney+ has blocked some of its old, classic animated movies, such as “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan,” because of “negative depictions or mistreatment of people or cultures.” 

Companies are deciding what content is “appropriate” for their audiences. There are movies and books that might not stand the test of time. Warning messages placed on “Gone with the Wind,” and the movies “Tootsie” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” might soon be edited. 

Movies, books, cartoons all have the potential to be erased or altered. Dr. Seuss has not been canceled, but some of the earlier books written by Dr. Theodore Seuss Geisel have been shelved. Not by our government, but by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, a private company that owns the titles and felt that six of his early books had “racist and insensitive imagery.” This is a company making a decision about its brand, which is its right. We are experiencing the “sea change” of attitudes about what media content people in 2021 find appropriate.

The teenager who uses a racial slur might never get the promotion or dream job many years into the future, because social media posts last forever. And even if someone has shown true evidence of remorse, change in behavior, apologizes and makes amends, it simply might not be enough.  

We are in a new frontier of having visual and audio evidence of our younger selves. A pretty terrifying thought. So as a society, the question to ponder is, when does forgiveness come into play? And what about grace? Do we still have a pathway to redemption? Are second chances still possible? I think so, except for Pepe Le Pew. His chances for redemption stink.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a question or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.