Imagine what we could do as a nation if we funneled all of the anger and rage we have toward culture wars into focusing on real problems right under our noses?
I will try not to be on my soapbox too much here, but much of the uproar over “cancel culture” (AKA the new “fake news”) is over the very thing so many people love about the United States – capitalism. Dr. Seuss Enterprises chose to remove a few of Dr. Seuss’ books from future printings on their own volition. Hasbro decided to make it just “Potato Head.” Both of these entities have the free will and right to choose how to manage their organizations and products. That is the basis of capitalism and the “free market,” right?
Pop culture & music has always been controversial
And yes, pop culture, music especially, causes one to raise an eyebrow as to “why is this ok to blast on TV?” And while I’m not a fan of what’s been shown or created by some artists, I have to say this is nothing new. Remember Elvis and the drama his pelvic-shaking dancing caused in the 1950s? As soon as he was televised singing and dancing, he was slammed for his dance moves, as critics called it an “appalling lack of musicality,” for their “vulgarity” and “animalism.” People were outraged, but life moved forward.
And then came the Beatles in the 1960s, they were called “four mop-headed anti-Christ beatniks” and it was said they were destroying the morals of America’s youth.
Madonna in the 1980s through, well, today. It’s hard to pick a single controversy with Madonna, but she’s still around and continued making music, and life went on.
Miley Cyrus in 2009 at the Kids Choice Awards or 2013 at the VMAs, and everything in between and after. And yet, she’s still here, making music.
I’m not saying the behavior of some of these artists is right, but pushing the envelope and trying to be “unique” and “memorable” is nothing new in the pop culture world. But to compare it with companies who are choosing to change or remove products is a false and unequivocal comparison.
Regardless, all of this is what we call culture wars. They spin the media and people out of control over, in my opinion, non-issues.
Where does your outrage over pop culture stem from?
How many Facebook posts have you put out with your outrage over the growing homeless, mental illness, and human rights crises we are witnessing in the “greatest country in the world”? My guess is none, but I bet you’ve shared a number of articles and angerly posted about racist books or non-gender potatoes. Why does the latter get your outrage, but the former doesn’t?
We get so caught up in the media spin — who, by the way, are making oodles off of your outrage over things that truly do not impact daily life. You’ve just decided that this is somehow an “infringement” on your life as an American and that you should be able to decide what books to read and what gender your potato is (ironically, the genderless potato allows for that**). You’ve decided that somehow these pop culture adjustments are somehow changing your way of life and it’s an outrage.
** (I also just want to note that gender is a construct, and therefore, there are no rules or laws determining what is and what isn’t. And the belief that we are male or female is also not as black or white as it seems. Our genetic and chromosomal makeup is not just THIS or THAT, believe it or not. We’ve always been told there’s XX (female) and XY (male), but it’s not as simple as that. But that’s neither here nor there, but I needed to say something since I’ve seen so many arguments against “Potato Head” saying that “It’s simple. There’s two genders – male and female…” etc., which that statement is inaccurate in so many ways.)
Let’s try this version of “whataboutism” with the real issues plaguing our nation
What about the 11 million kids in America living in poverty?
What about the children who are brought over to our country because “it’s the land of opportunity” and then they are held in facilities that look much like jail cells? These are innocent children. Where is your anger and fury over these children?
What about the more than half a million people (the last 2019 point-in-time figure from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development) who live in cars, on the street, or wherever they can find safety and shelter? (This number is pre-pandemic, and homelessness was already on the rise. Some predictions show that the number of people experiencing homelessness will increase by as much as 49%.)
How about those facing untreated mental health issues? Before the pandemic, 9.7% of young adults and teens in the U.S. had severe major depression and 19% of adults experienced mental health issues. And of these people suffering with mental health challenges, 60% of youth and 23% of adults have unmet treatment needs.
What if we put all of these together? Before the pandemic, more than 45% of those experiencing homelessness also had a mental illness. Mental illness, access to treatment, and overall lack of affordable housing and healthcare are all interconnected.
And while we just made it through the last general election, isn’t it important that we research and understand the basic voting rights that are trying to be changed in states all over the country? Have you an opinion or outrage over the fact that more restrictions and hoops are being put in place to make it harder to vote? Why is this the case if we are the so-called “leader of the free world.” Seems like a lot of effort is being put forth to reduce people’s ability to participate in the very thing that makes us the “free world.”
Channeling outrage over trivial matters to issues that have devastating effects to fellow citizens
What if we put our collective outrage toward things that actually mattered … for more than just ourselves and our immediate family? If you want to show your kid Song of the South (good luck finding a copy) or read one of the six (of more than 60) books that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has decided not to print anymore … go for it. No one is stopping you. But I ask you, how is that bettering our communities? How is that bettering your children?
We have gone so far down this path of “self-sufficiency,” “survival of the fittest” and being “self-made” that we have completely lost sight of the fact that we are all connected, whether you like it or not. We need each other in so many ways.
And because of that, aren’t we all better off when we are all better off?
According to Merriam-Webster, here are the various, applicable definitions of society:
- 1: companionship or association with one’s fellows : friendly or intimate intercourse : COMPANY
- 2: a voluntary association of individuals for common ends, especially : an organized group working together or periodically meeting because of common interests, beliefs, or profession
- 3a: an enduring and cooperating social group whose members have developed organized patterns of relationships through interaction with one another
- 3b: a community, nation, or broad grouping of people having common traditions, institutions, and collective activities and interests
- 4a: a part of a community that is a unit distinguishable by particular aims or standards of living or conduct : a social circle or a group of social circles having a clearly marked identity
Please, I beg you, look around your local community and see how you can help. The amount of time, energy, and breaths (or keyboard striking) expended over inconsequential railing over this fake “cancel culture” notion could be better spent to improve your community and your country as a whole.