I guess they aren’t as committed to capitalism and free speech as they claim


The right-wing freakout over Dr Seuss is amusing. The get everything wrong, but there is such wild-eyed outrage over his publisher not publishing books containing offensive illustrations.

Yes. That’s how it works. The people who own his works are exercising their right to not publish them. It’s not censorship, and it’s not driven by some imaginary leftist cancel culture.

I’ve been reading Seuss for most of my life, we read his books to our kids, and there are some that are popular with my granddaughter right now. They’re great books! No one is taking the Cat in the Hat out behind the chemical sheds. But there are definite examples of crude stereotyping of Asian and black people in some of them, and they taint the good.

I knew that Theodore Geisel had worked as a propagandist during WWII, as did some of the great cartoonists associated with the Warner Brothers label. If he were still alive, he’d probably be relieved to see that his racist works were being removed from the shelves of children’s libraries. We shouldn’t forget that Geisel approved of the internment camps for people of Japanese ancestry, or that he used crude steretoypes of African people, but it’s for the best that that stuff isn’t used in humorous primers intended to help children learn to read.

My grandfather fought in the Pacific during WWII, and came back filled with a lot of hatred and bigotry (which he did not outgrow, unlike Theodore Geisel). While I would like my grandkids to know something about their great grandparents at some point, I’m not going to start by sitting down and teaching them all the slurs Grandpa used for Asian people. That would be taking the wrong message from the experience.

Comments

  1. microraptor says

    Notice that right-wing complainers have been very careful to avoid showing any of the actual images in question.

  2. Snarki, child of Loki says

    I, for one, applaud the folks who are making serious bank with selling their copies of “cancelled” Seuss books on ebay to RWNJs. Free market in action! Plus fool & his money also, too.

    One tip: beware of crooks with bogus payment; those MAGAts are not to be trusted.

  3. Tethys says

    The first book I could read ‘by myself’ was Green Eggs and Ham. I’m fond of The Lorax, and the Grinch, and consider them classic children’s books.

    If the removal of these titles is the best example of oppression the Q side can whinge about, it’s a good day for progressive social change.

    A quick google for the most racist media I can remember from childhood reveals that you can still purchase Little Black Sambo.
    The Song of the South is not going to be made available on Disney+, though I’m sure you could easily get a copy if you wanted one.
    I expect they will all boycott Disney and Dr. Seuss in protest over the grave injustice of corporations not promoting racism by disseminating racist media for profit.
    Oh no! The sky is falling!

  4. unclefrogy says

    I do not know what to make of the complaints about cancel culture coming from the right wing. It is almost universally aimed at private individuals or corporation exercising there own property rights and independence for their often reasons closely related and influenced by their business and profit interests.
    I thought they were pro free market and individual property rights.
    I also notice that their interpretation of cancel culture does not include any disagreement with their own ideas. They are very quick to cry that any disagreement with them should be silenced. Just disagreeing with them is oppression.
    uncle frogy

  5. xdrta says

    Fox News spent days encouraging their sheep to buy Dr. Seuss books, in the name of freedom or something. As a result, nine of the top ten books on Amazon’s Best Seller List are Dr. Seuss books, thereby enriching the very people who “cancelled” Dr. Seuss. They don’t always think things through over there.

  6. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@5 As I often think, if they’ve been “canceled” why am I still hearing them? And not in reruns like Space: 1999 either. They are coming out with new episodes all the time.

  7. PaulBC says

    xdrta@6 Maybe they should go back to smashing Keurig coffee machines with golf clubs. That’ll sure teach… well somebody, right? I forget who.

  8. consciousness razor says

    I thought they were pro free market and individual property rights.

    Nope. That was just a lot of disingenuous apologetics for capitalism. What they say is a pretext, a fig leaf.

    This is not hypocrisy, where they genuinely have some value and don’t apply it consistently. It’s fake. It’s noise. It’s bullshit. It’s propaganda…. But not that. It never made sense and was never defensible. And it’s just very silly to think of Reagan (e.g.) as some kind of great political philosopher who had anything of value to say. He didn’t.

    Nothing about their ideology was really about protecting or guaranteeing any freedoms or rights. It was only about how those should be undermined for certain classes of people so that others can benefit, as well as of course doing whatever is necessary for enough true believers to swallow the poison. Absolutely nothing has changed about that.

  9. Owlmirror says

    Over on another forum, a blogger is trying to synthesize the historical threads of politics and SF fandom that led to the Sad/Rabid Puppy attempt to slate-vote the Hugos, or more familiarly, the Debarkle.

    One of the things that came up during research, on the political side, was the right-wing cancelling Jim Zumbo, for deploring the use of semi-automatic rifles in hunting.

    Another example, mentioned in the comments for that post, was Dan Cooper of Cooper Firearms, who was ousted as CEO by the board of the company he founded, for the grave sin of personally supporting Barack Obama as president.

    Clearly, cancelling is only bad when the left does it.

  10. PaulBC says

    CR@9 I totally agree. (Hope this is not a huge surprise. I will try to come up with something we can argue about.)

  11. dean56 says

    The best example of their dishonesty over this comes from (probably not a surprise) Ted Cruz and his tweets. First he complained about Seuss’ books being cancelled while including pictures of the books that were not included in the Seuss organization’s decision. Then he tweeted a link to where his book could be purchased and asked ‘Will they cancel my book next?”

  12. bcw bcw says

    One article argued that “Horton Hears a Who” was written as a defense of minority rights and appeared after a visit by Giessel to Japan and according to this https://slate.com/culture/2021/03/dr-seuss-racist-books-mulberry-street-interview.html, “The Sneetches and Other Stories [1953] was inspired by opposition to anti-Semitism. ”

    As a comment on changing attitudes towards racist phrasing, Agatha Christie’s murder mystery “And Then There Were None,” which in recent movie versions is built around a poem about little soldier boys getting killed off was “Ten Little Indians” through the 2000’s. In the 1934 original book, the “Indians” were Ten Black-racial-epithets, including in the book title. By 1954, this was changed to Indians but otherwise the same word for word, including a now-inconsistent racist reference to as “hard to see as an Indian in a woodpile.” The American versions were changed earlier than the English ones.

  13. bcw bcw says

    I can certainly see why a publisher would not want parents to be put off from buying the other thousand Dr Suess books by accidentally buying one that angered or embarrassed them when they stumble upon racist stuff while reading to their kids.

  14. PaulBC says

    dean56@12

    Will they cancel my book next?

    Given that it’s not owned by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, I can safely reply: No. They will not.

    But maybe Cruz could take a tip and rewrite his entire corpus using only 223 easy-to-read words like The Cat in the Hat. I’m sure his readership would find it very helpful.

  15. hemidactylus says

    James Lindsay is of course rolling this episode into his thing against Critical Theory. He made some ironic point about cherry picking the bad stuff which I think is a perfect example of projection. Isn’t that his schtick against Critical Theory, highlighting the worst cases?

  16. brucegee1962 says

    Fox News spent days encouraging their sheep to buy Dr. Seuss books, in the name of freedom or something. As a result, nine of the top ten books on Amazon’s Best Seller List are Dr. Seuss books, thereby enriching the very people who “cancelled” Dr. Seuss. They don’t always think things through over there.

    It’s even better than that. It would make a certain amount of sense if people were going out and buying the books that were about to go out of print — after all, rarity, collectors’ value, protest, etc. But none of those books on the best seller list are the ones that are actually going out of print — they’re just the standards, Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, all that stuff. Do these people believe that ALL the Dr Seuss books are going out of print?
    The reading/listening skills of these people never cease to amaze me.

  17. says

    “My grandfather fought in the Pacific during WWII, and came back filled with a lot of hatred and bigotry (which he did not outgrow, unlike Theodore Geisel).”

    Same here PZ. My grandfather’s final years were not pleasant. He had alienated most of the family including his only son, my father with his racism. A life built around racism and hatred is a lonely life.

  18. dean56 says

    @ 16: But maybe Cruz could take a tip and rewrite his entire corpus using only 223 easy-to-read words like The Cat in the Hat. I’m sure his readership would find it very helpful.

    Only if Cruz wrote it with short simple sentences. Of course, he’d only do that if he couldn’t count on the RNC buying tons of copies to make it a best seller (which is what they did).

  19. markkernes says

  20. PaulBC says

    markkernes@22 Sheesh. I didn’t need to see that. Or maybe I did.

    I think he was a product of his times and also did many good things. There’s no reason to excuse the bad, but there’s no need to publish it either.

  21. Marissa van Eck says

    “Cancel culture” is what happens when the Free Market of Ideas (TM) decides it doesn’t like what the alt-right is selling. Never anyone else, just their incestuous little tribe. Hypocrisy, thy name is GOP.

  22. microraptor says

    I like to point out that the people who are complaining about “cancel culture” are the ones who called for the country band then known as the Dixie Chicks to be taken off the radio because they criticized the invasion of Iraq.

  23. Ishikiri says

    They’re a bunch of fucking liars. When Kevin McCarthy invokes Dr. Suess in a debate about electoral reform, he knows that he’s wrong. He’s just trying to rally the ignorant troops for the culture war.

  24. chuckonpiggott says

    There was a diner near where I used to work. The menu included Green Eggs and Ham. Eggs scrambled with pesto and ham. It was delicious.

  25. drew says

    To force people to be surrounded by symbols of hatred, be they statues or children’t books or flags or whatever, is horrible.

    But eBay has also decided to ban sales of some of this material. Not Mein Kampf or the Turner Diaries. I suppose their rationalization is “for the children,” a rallying cry that always makes me uncomfortable.

  26. PaulBC says

    drew@28

    I suppose their rationalization is “for the children,” a rallying cry that always makes me uncomfortable.

    Would you be more comfortable if their rallying cry was “For Capitalism! Because it’s our damn company.”

    Unless you can prove discrimination, eBay is probably entitled to exercise a great deal of discretion in what can be sold on their auction platform. I think this is another case in which PZ’s point applies. While I’m not sure where you’re coming at this from, it is ludicrous for the alleged free marketeers out there to be up in arms about eBay’s business decisions. Presumably eBay knows their own business, and probably there is a profit motive involved in what they ban (and if not, then let the shareholders discipline them for it).

  27. consciousness razor says

    To force people to be surrounded by symbols of hatred, be they statues or children’t books or flags or whatever, is horrible.

    But eBay has also decided to ban sales of some of this material. Not Mein Kampf or the Turner Diaries.

    I have likewise “banned sales” of that material. I didn’t want to be a party to that, so I’m not.

    What gives me the right, eh?

    Next, I’ll be telling you that I don’t need to sell dildos out of my garage. And I don’t even have a garage. The nerve!

  28. hemidactylus says

    @25- microraptor

    Didn’t Laura Ingraham write a book called Shut Up & Sing?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dixie_Chicks:_Shut_Up_and_Sing

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811136/trivia?tab=tr&item=tr0603467

    “ “Shut Up and Sing” is also the name of a best-selling book by conservative talk radio pundit Laura Ingraham. In her book, Ingraham skewers the Dixie Chicks and other musical acts who use their concerts and television appearances to voice their political opinions.”

  29. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@31 It’s of course kind of uninteresting to point out the hypocrisy of the rightwing, but the concept of “shut up and sing” is grotesque and offensive, particularly so to libertarians. The Dixie Chicks are not the product of a command economy. They are not singing “by order of Her Majesty.” They can do what they choose and the market can reward them or not. They’re still out there, so I guess the market didn’t punish them too much after all.

    The scare tactic Ayn Rand uses in her work is the idea that the people with the talent, brains, and creativity (unstated: “that’s you, my dear pimply reader”) are enslaved by the mediocrity of “collectivism” that harnesses them for the needs of others. And here is Laura Freaking Ingraham doing exactly that, denying agency to the Dixie Chicks and telling them to “shut up” and be enslaved by the needs of the many who see them purely as vessels of their entertainment. I am not sure Ingraham is a libertarian anyway. She may be more of a fascist, but she identifies with a movement that claims to support individualism and here she is saying “Shut up and let society tell you what to do.”

  30. hemidactylus says

    @32- Paul BC

    I was never really much into the Dixie Chicks but if you wanna scare white conservative America to the core I can find some Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, NWA, Paris, or more recent Pussy Riot that will do the trick much better. Look up Burn Hollywood Burn by Public Enemy on Youtube. Supergroup with Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube. Or Hangerz by Pussy Riot. Or Guerrillas in the Mist by Paris.

  31. hemidactylus says

    Nobody probably remembers Negativland either. Consolidated and Negativland. Where did the 90s subversive scene go?

  32. John Morales says

    hemidactylus:

    Where did the 90s subversive scene go?

    You mean, the subversive scene where all the stuff that’s since been deprecated, all the social progress since, all the stuff that’s since been “cancelled” was still around?

    (Probably residing with the Age of Aquarius)

  33. hemidactylus says

    @36- John

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m reminiscing but a friend played Consolidated stuff for me back in the day and it seemed so beyond the pale.

  34. John Morales says

    hemidactylus, no worries.

    Thing is, to someone now, the 90s are like the 60s were to the 90s.

    Whatever subversive effectiveness there was, it’s either done its thing or it hasn’t.

  35. PaulBC says

    @34-38 When I first visited California in 1987, just out of college, my older brother was working on some kind of project that was going to be in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Love. And I thought wow, 20 years ago, that’s like prehistory. Now we’re nearly 20 years past the attack on the World Trade Center, but it seems very fresh in my mind, as does the first dot-com boom, as does Excite@Home, a completely forgotten company that acquired a startup where I was working.

    The 90s? Hmm… I spend the first half in grad school and the last part making money, with a little travel in between. There was nothing “edgy” about it, though it sure beat the the 80s. Plus it looked a lot less likely that we’d have a global thermonuclear war. So I would say I was pretty happy for a moment there.

    Maybe something subversive was going on. Beats me. It just happened a minute ago, didn’t it? No wait, it’s ancient history. And the problem with aging is that time goes faster and faster. This would be fine if the amount of time grew exponentially as well, but instead there’s a fixed limit and you collide with it. Eh, that doesn’t bother me too much either. Not anymore.

    I think the whole 90s thing was driven by Generation X, which is why nobody talks about it anymore. I call it the Prince Charles generation, because when the Boomers finally leave the stage, the next in line won’t be us. And they still seem to be taking up most of the space. Let’s just home the singularity can wait till after they’re gone or it’ll be Boomers all the way to eternity. :)

  36. John Morales says

    Paul,
    Well… mores of the 1930s vs mores of the 1960s vs mores of the 1990s vs mores of the 2020s.

    Stuff that was outre or at least radical in each era became normative or even banal in subsequent ones.

    hemidactylus, mate! I already wasted almost a minute checking out your other video link (not this one, obs) to discover it was some sort of generic (c)rap music.

    I used to think I hated Disco, but at least I could listen to at least some songs and not mind. Even liked a couple.
    This rhythmic effusive serial expostulations talking type of stuff, it just irritates me. I got less than 6 seconds into it (after suffering an ad) and am irritated.

    Thumpy-thump-thump-thump-thumpy-thump-thump music, is my designation.

    Anyway, each to their own, but since you proffered that, I offer you my personal opinion about it in return. You’re welcome.

  37. hemidactylus says

    @42-John
    Umm…hip hop is sorta the vernacular of the understandably super pissed off. Guess Public Enemy’s revolutionary point is lost on you too. They could have tried with keytar or 80s poodle mullet hairspray duet singing Breakfast Club sensibility but that just don’t cut it. Fuck the police and stuff.

    And Consolidated seems soundtrack of a revolution not unlike Rage Against the Machine. Were you not around in the late 90s?

  38. John Morales says

    hemidactylus, we do not want to have this convo.

    I do note your allusive examples are wasted on me; I’m not about to research them because now I know they’re thumpy-thump “music”.

  39. hemidactylus says

    @44- John
    You’re not even familiar with Public Enemy? Egads! Will bite my tongue. No judgment. Grrrrr. Grumble. Grumble. Snort. Guess EPMD would be a stretch.

  40. John Morales says

    It’s all the same, hemidactylus.

    But fine, let’s see what inspires you so.

    “Ugh!
    Killing in the name of
    Now you do what they told ya
    And now you do what they told ya
    But now you do what they told ya
    Those that died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
    You justify those that died, by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
    Those that died are justified, for wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites
    You justify those that died, by wearing the badge, they’re the chosen whites

    [rinse and repeat]

    Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me
    Motherfucker, yeah”

    Such lyricism!

    That’s supposed to be subversive? That inspires you, somehow?

    Heh.

    (And to imagine you had to listen to it!)

  41. hemidactylus says

    With Chuck D on lyrics you’re goddamn right I listened to it.

    “ Some of those that work forces
    Are the same that burn crosses ”

    Did you deliberately miss that? I think more of you than that oversight.

  42. John Morales says

    Did you deliberately miss that?

    (sigh)

    “Some of those that hold office, are the same that burn crosses
    Some of those up in congress, are the same that burn crosses”

    There, now I’ve put up the entirety of the lyrics.

    Again: That’s supposed to be subversive? That inspires you, somehow?

    Nothing novel there, except for its mediocrity.

    Look: if anything, 90s subversive scene was the weakest of them all, for me at least. A feeble imitation of music draped with inane lyrics, all sounding the fucking same. Thumpity-thumpity-thump-thump-thump.
    Can’t even hum the tune.

    So, that’s where it went: into deserved desuetude.

    Not annoying the right wing, unlike the Dr Seuss issue, due to irrelevance.

    PS I’ve never heard of “Chuck D”. Extra-thumpy, I guess.

  43. consciousness razor says

    In terms of music (not lyrics or whatever else), there hasn’t been all that much to subvert for almost a century. People often point to 1945, give or take. By then, the only obvious doors that needed a bit more opening had to do with various forms of electronic or computer music (and the many new possibilities they offer), but even there, the associated technological and musical developments had already been underway for a while, with more where that came from obviously. Otherwise, it looks like we’ve already demolished (nearly?) every wall which used to constrain what could be made (whether or not audiences like it). If any are still hiding out there somewhere, it’s very hard to imagine what they might be or where they could lead.

  44. dean56 says

    “particularly so to libertarians. ”

    Since libertarians are some of the worst people in existence the search for things that offend them always ends with the same point: “You want me to do things to be a decent person? You have no right.”

  45. PaulBC says

    I never thought… or at least no longer think of song lyrics as a place to go for subversive ideas. They can promote them in simplified form, which is not to be dismissed, but it’s a superficial outlook. Better to go to the source.

    I grew up listening to Phil Ochs, and I like Billy Bragg, though I think his guilt-ridden love songs are a more interesting contribution than the purely political ones. I’m not a huge rap fan. I have heard some I like. It is so far from my experience that I feel like a poser even talking about it.

    And yes, this is not as much about music per se as the reception of pop music by the masses, which really does focus on lyrics. When teenagers write stuff down on the desktop or a bathroom wall, it’s the lyrics they remember, not the melody.

  46. hemidactylus says

    Actually Negativland goes back further than I realized. They are an implementation of what Guy Debord referred to as détournement. Pretty subverting of what is considered standard practice of music. Way outside the boundaries. Debord’s concept of recuperation is where capitalism inevitably subverts the subversion and commodifies it. Punk rock and garage metal bands sell out (double meaning given arenas filled to capacity).

  47. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@53 I knew some people in the mid to late 90s who liked Negativland. At least, I vaguely remember visiting and seeing albums at their place. Maybe I’ll give it a listen some time.

    I am pretty terrible about music. Aside from the pop music that is part of the background and some better music I like (which is mostly a lot older) it is not something that actively influenced me. Punk and grunge both happened when I was an age that it could have influenced me, but it really didn’t. My favorite 80s album is probably Paul Simon’s Graceland. Later, I liked some REM. Pretty pedestrian tastes, I will grant, but defensible in my view.

    On grunge, I still don’t get what’s so great about Nirvana. I mean I have tried and to me it feels like a rebellion against stuff that was totally off my radar to begin with. On rap, I listened to some Blackalicous albums after reading about Tim Parker’s battle with kidney disease, a subject that interests me for personal reasons. In fact, I agree with their political perspective and enjoy some of the performances on their own terms. But honestly, it’s just not me and I feel like a poser (as I said) even talking about it.

  48. unclefrogy says

    the interesting thing about music and pop music in particular is the window on popular attitude it gives. It does not really drive it as give expression to it.. What pop music has been doing for the last 30+ years has not been encouraging and expressing passivity and pure escape into romantic fantasy nor patriotic submission but expressing a lot of active discontent very openly.
    ” I’m mad as hell and I ain’t going to take it any more” the masses are restless
    uncle frogy

  49. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@55 True enough. But this probably explains why so little of it moves me. I like 60s music expressing themes of love and unity. Some of it is a little too saccharine, maybe, but even something like “Get Together” can get me going if I’m in the mood for it.

    The idea of everyone getting along is just as subversive in a world driven by tribalism. Like, I’m not sure what Nirvana is going on about in Smells Like Teen Spirt except they’re really pissed off about something and may have had nearly as crappy time in high school as I did. But a motto like Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven.” seems to point to something we all ought to do, even if he was high when he wrote it. That is more subversive than bitching and moaning.

  50. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@55 True enough. But this probably explains why so little of it moves me. I like 60s music expressing themes of love and unity. Some of it is a little too saccharine, maybe, but even something like “Get Together” can get me going if I’m in the mood for it.

    The idea of everyone getting along is just as subversive in a world driven by tribalism. Like, I’m not sure what Nirvana is going on about in Smells Like Teen Spirt except they’re really pissed off about something and may have had nearly as crappy time in high school as I did. But a motto like Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven.” seems to point to something we all ought to do, even if he was high when he wrote it. That is more subversive than complaining.

  51. hemidactylus says

    @56 Paul

    But complaint could lead to change. I wasn’t warm to Pearl Jam at first, but they made a bold move of standing up to the exploitative concert ticket behemoth. That improved my view of them. But that move by Pearl Jam didn’t change anything:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/pearl-jam-ticketmaster-1995-boycott-booking-fees-gigs-ticket-prices-a8989516.html

    I like Smashing Pumpkins too, but think far more of Vedder than Corgan, who appears to have fallen into a political cesspit.

    Catblogger has a negative view of post 60s-70s music. I’d put Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins up against The Liverpool Bugs any day.

  52. PaulBC says

    hemidactylus@57

    But complaint could lead to change.

    Agreed. For that matter, some 60s music made a biting statement, such as The Fish Cheer and I’m not really trying to make a distinction on which era got it right. Personally, I gravitate towards the mellow and positive. My thoughts are already agitated enough. I can read a newspaper if I need something to be angry about.

  53. unclefrogy says

    as someone who was there at the time “the 60’s” there is no way you can categorize it as monolithic there were as many strands as in any persian carpet. Dylan was popular at the same time as Donovan and with the same people.. I think you can mark it as a time of change both in the mood of the people echoed in pop music, save for a few outliers in the 30’s and 40’s there was not much dissenting political content like that before. The idea in the 60’s in the “counter culture” was to live the change you wanted, first time that idea became public it did have an effect some things did change not enough clearly and was not the only thing going on at the time. there was over everything the threat of “the Bomb”
    Over the past few years it has become pretty clear that going back to the repression of the 40’s and 50’s will not be tolerated. no body is going to passively go along with that crap again. The idea of resisting unequivocally and without restraint now permeates the popular imagination and is displayed in popular song.
    uncle frogy

  54. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@59

    Over the past few years it has become pretty clear that going back to the repression of the 40’s and 50’s will not be tolerated. no body is going to passively go along with that crap again. The idea of resisting unequivocally and without restraint now permeates the popular imagination and is displayed in popular song.

    The last serious attempt to go back happened in the 80s, and that was a failure too. Since I lived through it, I don’t have to guess as much. The 80s weren’t a monolith either.

    There were preppies with Izod shirts who wanted to be investment bankers. There were others closer to my experience getting tech degrees and gearing up for defense jobs that thankfully morphed into something else by the time I needed one (not to suggest there aren’t still plenty of jobs in the defense industry, but more options opened up). “Fifty thou a year buys a lot of beer” or did in 1986, and even while recognizing that it’s satire, it may have sounded aspirational as well.

    But in the 80s, there were also punks. There were ACT UP activists. There were demonstrations and boycotts against South Africa’s apartheid system. I do get a little defensive about this, because I know enough people, and not just older siblings and their friends who are pretty sure everything good happened in the 60s and the kids have been mercenaries ever since. The 80s was a mixed bag and no, we didn’t all love Reagan. I went to a pretty conservative state university and saw the mix.

    Oddly, the “conservatives” are often as non-adherent now as “liberals.” I mean a jackass like Jacob Chansley would have been laughed out of 80s College Republicans but now he’s a symbol of a rightwing movement.

    So I agree that there’s no going back. I was stating a preference about music. My feeling is more along the lines of: look I don’t like 50s conformity either and I will express that in my life if I so choose. I don’t need to harangue anyone about it. Truth be told, maybe I did need to harangue people when I was younger.

    My focus is also a little different because the “popular imagination” in the US is not the same as it is globally. Many people in developing countries would love to get an education, a good job, and a lifestyle that isn’t too far from Leave It To Beaver. We have the luxury of rejection because we’re a wealthy nation. My closest community consists of highly educated Asian immigrants, and I have to say that the bond I feel with them is closer than any affinity based on music.

  55. hemidactylus says

    The 80s had some hypersexual movies that probably wouldn’t fly today. Porky’s and Hardbodies were most egregious. Bachelor Party may have gone too far too.

    There were better movies that defined the era such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Weekend at Bernies capped off the decade.

    The violent movies then were pretty tame by today’s standards. Compare First Blood to Rambo: Last Blood.

  56. Kagehi says

    Yeah, not sure comparing Rambo: First Blood and Rambo:Last Blood is really all that useful. I would argue that without Trump, and the rise of rampaging racism in the time frame it got made in, Last Blood would either a) never been made, or b) never been titled something so bloody stupid. The 80s, you have to remember, had a mess of horror sexploutation flicks as well, with plenty of blood and gore, and some stuff that you would have a hard time getting by with today even, unless it was a made for HBO series, or something like that. Last Blood is like the idiotic “Red Dawn” – its a spank and wank for the idiots who sleep with their guns, while having wet dreams about killing all the “bad” people who are “out to get them”, and someone damn well knew that it would sell among that crowd under Drumpf.

  57. says

    I am really critical about some aspects of cancel culture but 90% copmplaints about it are between stupid, mad and misleading on purpose.

    Words and attitudes change, even some things that were ok back then are not ok now because with use language changes (the word MLK used to describe afro-americans is not used anymore for this reason).
    In this case it is hilarious how MAGAts complaining about Dr Seuss books being canceled by liberals are filling th pockets of people who decided about changes.
    Basically if you own any element of culture, you should now decide to adapt it to today and drop a whisper of cancel culture, MAGAts will buy off the shelves all the old copies and then liberals will buy all the new ones.
    Double profit instead of none.

    Also – original version juxtaposed with renewed one may be great vehicle for older kids to explain how a perception of diversity changes through ages,

Leave a Reply