Dear GenXers, Xenials and Millenials,
I know that you are feeling outraged and scared right now, as some of our foundational cultural icons and creations are being questioned and deconstructed and “cancelled”… but I want you to all just take a step back and breathe for a second.
We forget that as we did to the Boomers, and as the Boomers did to the Greatest Generation before them, this is a natural process in our cultural evolution – It’s GenZ’s turn to take the culture from us now… they are actually the ones who get to establish the norms and values and merits around cultural and cultural production. Because culture and consumerism has always revolved around the youth – they know what is hip, and within them lies the profits of the future.
As someone whose career revolves around disrupting systems of oppression, I, for one, am pleased to see that the things the next generation coming up is focused on cancelling things like guns and racism and violence against women.
Our knee-jerk reactions are understandable in a manufactured culture which has brainwashed us into thinking that our identities and existence are so inextricably connected to things like catchy tunes and cute cartoon skunks. So we sometimes forget that all of these things are commercially produced for the place and time that they become popular. They are intentionally designed to entertain us and take our cares away, and generate wealth and profit. And for a long time, they did.
And we didn’t have to worry about whether or not racist caricatures in kid’s book, or racially problematic pancake mix mascots, or whether or not songs that casually talk about tying intimate partners to the bed and lighting the house on fire were things we wanted to continue reproducing in our culture – things were a lot easier. We could nestle safely in our consumer-driven nostalgia and not have to analyze the things we like, and why we like them, and whether their normalization was contributing to collective and individual trauma, and some of the biggest problems we are facing as a society.
Cause all these things that we have celebrated for decades, which emerged to entertain and distract us in a certain time and place, have contributed to normalization of many traumatic things. They may not be traumatic to you individually or personally, but they are to someone, somewhere.
Don’t get offended by the people labelled “too sensitive” or “offended” by these things. Try a bit of compassion… remember that their “offense” and “sensitivity” is almost certainly linked to their trauma. When you do this you might be able to begin to feel comfortable with, what seems like, a hostile takeover of cancel culture… in fact you might even start to understand why some of these things are too problematic to NOT address and continue to reproduce in our culture.
Besides… it’s not like you are never going to be able to listen to an Eminem song again, or that all the Dr. Suess books in the world are being burned, or that Pepe le Pew’s legacy of being an adorable lecherous French skunk will disappear off the face of the earth… it just means that they are retiring, to make way for the next generation’s culture, for this time and place, for the generation of new and diversified profits.
Because we do still have personal choice, and if we want to personally continue to enjoy, and consume and celebrate these things, we can. But if those are the choices we are making, then we have to also accept our role and responsibility in contributing to the greater societal problems of racism, oppression, violence, dominance and control.
We all play a role in the creation of culture.
What kind of culture do you want to live in?