Let's get one thing clear from the outset. This is not an anti-"cancel culture" blog. I'm not going to go on some lazy, perfunctory rant about "Ermagerd, political correctness is ruining ev-aree-thing!" The term political correctness itself has been around for like 40 years, and it's like the front in WWI. Both sides have poured insane amounts of blood and treasure into the fight, and the battle lines haven't moved.
This isn't about cancel culture just because I think the war is over. The armies have taken up positions. They're living their lives behind their borders, doing what they want to do and enjoying the things they want to enjoy. Just like back in the day when Congress held hearings about slapping warning labels on CDs to let parents know the word "bitch" would appear in their kids' music. But 25 years later my son was still going to see Five Finger Death Punch and blasting the Hip Hop station in his car. And he's a normal, functioning adult. Just like today a prime cancel target like Dave Chappelle is topping Netflix in views and Joe Rogan has the No. 1 podcast. Some people want to be offended, and others want to consume offensive material. And it's increasingly clear neither is capable of stopping the other.
If anything, this is an anti-anti-cancel culture post. Brought to you by this latest salvo fired across No Man's Land:
And Ben Stiller's return fire:
Thanks to Stiller for handling it exactly the way he did. And for making Tropic Thunder, which is offensive, subversive, inappropriate, ridiculous, brilliant and funny as all hell. Stiller didn't apologize because he has nothing to apologize for. Same with everyone involved, including Robert Downey Jr.:
Stiller made exactly the movie he set out to make, and the joke landed with a huge audience. It's not for everyone. But that's a time-honored tradition in comedy. Believe me, I get the same eyeroll from my cultured, sophisticated Irish Rose when I'm laughing at Stiller playing Simple Jack that I've gotten watching Monty Python, Blazing Saddles, Airplane! or Step Brothers. Which is fine. After all, we both love Hogan's Heroes, which is the funniest sitcom ever set in a Nazi concentration camp. To each his own.
All I'm asking is that we stop trying to perpetuate this fight. Both sides in this are like a fully armed torpedo buzzing around in a sub battle, pinging like crazy trying to acquire a target. Leave it be, and the market will correct itself. Hollywood can only make so many bland, formulaic crap in an effort to play it safe before they realize the public is staying home and they're losing hundreds of millions. That's when they'll greenlight the next Tropic Thunder or the next Life of Brian or whatever. This idea that offensive comedies about terrible people are verboten now and forever ignores the fact that South Park and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia still have huge audiences after decades.
It's one thing to defend that thing you like when it's under attack. That's a pure good. But looking for a fight when the war is essentially over is a waste of everybody's time. Especially Ben Stiller's. Just let him get back to work so we can have a decent comedy again.