Woke Alert: Four Things That Actually Aren't Cancelled and Four Things That Are Cancelled

If you spend at least five minutes on social media, you are destined to come across a colourful meme decrying the woke liberals and how their sensitive snowflake minds have cancelled yet another creator or creation. The insinuation is those pesky libs are out to get rid of anything that doesn't fit a narrow-minded agenda for progress and equality. Those damn bastards!

Except most of the hollers and screams about 'cancel culture' are coming from the same dirty far-right wing crackpot news sites that are warning us that Tom Hanks and his vampires are sucking the innocent blood of children or that Bill Gates is going to create a zombie army through the vaccine or holds up anything said by lifetime charlatan and huckster Donald Trump as truth. Much like all those things, 'cancel culture' isn't really true.

What is being called 'cancel culture' is people challenging certain creators or artists for being racist, sexist, misogynistic or just plain awful. There are some extreme reactions on the far left, but for the most part, there is a big difference between recognizing something is problematic than outright trying to eliminate something. Calling someone out for doing something horrible is not actually cancelling them, but rather holding them accountable.

During this time of lambasting the rise of cancel culture, I thought it would be helpful to point out four things that are not actually cancelled despite the narrative on some Facebook feeds. These are four of the major things that are pointed to the most when attacking liberals as out for blood, and well, they aren't even cancelled. In the quest for balance, I will also spotlight four things that actually have been cancelled. This will be a very fair-minded piece.

Not Cancelled #1 - The Cat in the Hat: You've probably seen the meme that shows that rascal the Cat in the Hat and his buddies Thing 1 and 2 smiling at you while there is something written like 'if you have an issue with Dr. Seuss then the problem is with you.' If you haven't seen it written like that then you must have seen countless exasperated messages about how cancel culture has gone too far erasing the world of the Cat in the Hat.

Except the Cat in the Hat isn't cancelled at all. It has never been cancelled. You can go to a bookstore right now and buy The Cat in the Hat and as well, the sequels and spin-off books about him. While there you can buy a whole slew of other Dr. Seuss books, and you can also find many of the books at the library. I just popped on Amazon and it has all kinds of different Cat in the Hat merchandise including the book. And yes, Amazon also has a small army of various Dr. Seuss books too.

The only thing that happened is the Dr. Seuss estate on their own volition pulled six Dr. Seuss books from circulation that have racist imagery and prose, and except for one, there is a really good chance you never even heard of them or read them before. Most of those books probably could have been quietly pulled from circulation and seven people would have noticed or cared. It wasn't the classics outside of one book, even then not sure how popular To Think That I Saw it On Mulberry Street even was with most readers.

It turned out to be a great business decision for the Dr. Seuss estate because out of protest over a decision they made, several angry leaning to the right folks bought a whole bunch of their books out of protest. Maybe they thought books that were never going out of circulation were somehow becoming collector items. Or they thought the protest would really show the liberals, who probably like a bunch of those books too.

Also, for the record, Dr. Seuss did not hire elves to sneak into our homes and steal the offending books. We can all still happily read and smile at the racist caricatures if that is a thing one needs to do. No one is taking the books we own from us or telling us what to read.

I also must point out that in every meme that I've ever seen about the outrage of cancelling Dr. Seuss, the chosen images are always filled with beloved Seuss characters like the Cat in the Hat, Horton the Elephant, the Lorax and Yertle the Turtle. All those characters' books are still in circulation. None of the memes or articles of outrage have actually shown the offending pictures, because I think even they would need to admit that they are offensive and very racist. 

I am not saying Dr. Seuss was racist, but rather that he was drawing things during a certain time and age, and they just have not aged very well. He also later in his career pushed harder on acceptance and diversity. Since these books are targeted toward kids, it is best to not sell those six books or at least, not in the kids' section.

Actually Cancelled #1 - Mr. Belvedere: The family sitcom about a posh British butler who comes to live with an American family where he doesn't really do his job at all but rather meddles in their lives and spouts out witty one-liners as advice had its final season in 1990.  The character was based on Gwen Gavenport's 1947 novel that was adapted into the 1948 movie, Sitting Pretty. I'm sure if you look hard enough you can find all those things still and the TV series is likely on a cable channel that shows old shows. But the series as a first run was definitely cancelled in 1990 and they haven't made a single episode since. 

Bob Uecker is an award-winning and iconic baseball announcer for the Milwaukee Brewers and has been calling their games since 1971. He also had some cameos in a few shows and movies including Major League. But his career as the star of a sitcom that likely has more nostalgia than actual quality is definitely cancelled. Because the only sitcom he ever starred in was Mr. Belvedere and the days of new episodes about the witty sitcom butler have been over for decades. Well, until they announce the remake series for Crackle.

Not Cancelled #2- The Muppets: I loved the Muppets as a kid. Heck, I still do. As a kid, I was eager to see all the movies in the theatre, and I regularly watch The Muppet Show and the animated series, Muppet Babies. It appears that I mostly saw reruns of The Muppet Show because it ran from 1976 to 1981, but I feel like the series had a longer life in my childhood. Those goofy characters were a major part of my growing up and they have a special place in my heart. So, I can totally understand being upset if you found out that Kermit and the gang got nailed by cancel culture.

Except once again, they weren't cancelled at all. Actually, it was the opposite. It was the weird situation of outrage over our felt pals getting more exposure.

I don't think the original The Muppet Show has been in syndication for decades and if it has, it was likely on an obscure premium channel that most people didn't have. I know the series has some compilations of episodes on VHS and DVDs through the years, but I don't think the whole series has ever been available. It was not available to stream on any of the major streaming services until Disney Plus announced they would now be streaming the original series.

This should make fans excited right? You can finally easily relive classic episodes again and go through the whole series. I am sure most were thrilled. But suddenly the narrative came that evil liberal Disney was cancelling the Muppets, which was the first time a cancellation came in the form of the thing actually being shown.

The apparent cancellation comes from the fact that there is a viewer warning that is shown at the start of a few episodes where it mentions that the particular episode may have some outdated and offensive cultural depictions. This means the material is actually kept in the episode. You can watch it as it was originally aired. The viewer who may include children is just warned that Disney may not endorse a few things contained and is admitting some elements are not acceptable. We can finally see The Muppet Show series, but apparently, a little warning just ruins everything for some right-wingers whose favourite hobby is to whine. I prefer Statler and Waldorf.

Actually Cancelled #2 - Independence Day 3: 20th Century Fox was super confident that moviegoers were starving for some tentacled alien invasion action to the point they had already greenlit and slotted in release dates for two sequels to Independence Day: Resurgence, which was a two decades later sequel to the super successful Independence Day.

Here is the thing about Independence Day, it isn't really what you'd call a good movie. It has a campy charm and Will Smith owns it in a break-out lead role. So, of course, we get a sequel that took itself far more seriously and killed off the Will Smith character before the movie starts. Instead, we get a movie spending a ridiculous amount of time on what were comedic side characters in the original, except this time replace comedic with unbelievably annoying. 

Independence Day: Resurgence is aggressively bad and one of those cases where I really felt I was being assaulted by a movie. I also think it may be about 29 million hours long. But Fox was confident that they had a franchise on their hands, even if it was clear no one was begging for a sequel 20 years later and especially one without Will Smith. The movie ended on a cliffhanger with the promise of our heroes now invading the evil aliens' world.

If this idea got you bouncing off walls, then you should know Resurgence was a giant bomb at the box office and you are the only person in the world who wants to see more of these movies. Now that Disney owns 20th Century, it is very safe to say that this sequel is totally cancelled and will never be made.

Not Cancelled #3 - Bug Bunny: This is another case of getting more exposure than the cartoon character has had in over a decade then that somehow means being cancelled to those who love to whine about anything they could blame on liberals. Bugs Bunny is about to star alongside LeBron James in Space Jam 2, so this would be the exact opposite of being erased.

While claiming Bugs Bunny is cancelled is just stupid, there have been some changes and removals of a few Looney Tunes characters over the years. The decision has been made to modify the Lola Bunny character who for some reason in the original was heavily sexualized for the family movie, and the decision is to tone down that aspect by making her more 'sporty' and less curvaceous. This apparently upset all the folks who like to fantasize about the potential for a Bunny Swimsuit issue or something. Also, the fact is that the Lola character has been modified for several previous cartoons since the original movie.

There is also frustration that Pepe Le Pew, who apparently had one scene in the new movie, has now been removed. Le Pew was never considered a major or crucial character. His whole thing is that he is a skunk who chases, grabs and tries to kiss a cat who isn't the least bit interested in him, and without hyperbole, it is safe to say that type of character doesn't really age well, especially for a movie aimed at kids. It isn't really charming or funny forcing yourself on someone, and that was the character's entire gag.

The Looney Tunes has a history of characters being modified or removed. Speedy Gonzales cartoons were removed from Looney Tunes for several years since his character was deemed racist, but apparently, he is popular in Mexico. The character will zoom back on the big screen as a character in Space Jam 2. Looney Tunes has modified and altered their characters constantly over the years. The idea that Looney Tunes is changing things due to the recent rise of 'cancel culture' just isn't true and is an example of completely ignoring history.

Actually Cancelled #3 - My Newspaper subscription: When I was younger, at one point my dad had four newspaper subscriptions going. He had the local paper, Brantford Expositor, the more financial paper in National Post. one for world news in the Globe & Mail and then one for sports in the Toronto Star. No idea why we had so many papers, and there probably were weeks where some of them were never even opened.

But in the 1980s and 1990s, you had to have newspaper subscriptions if you wanted to read the news and stay updated on major events. Plus, it just seemed like if you owned a house then obviously you needed to get a paper delivered to it or you weren't homeowning correctly.

Now, we have the internet. I haven't had a newspaper subscription of any kind for at least a decade. I think there is a lot of value in papers. I think good news deserves to be supported and compensated. It is really hard to justify the subscription fee when there is so much quality so easily accessible.

My guess is that anyone younger than me doesn't have a newspaper subscription either and in some cases, probably never ever considered having one.

Not Cancelled #4 - Mr. Potato Head - There is a long history of products being rebranded or modified over time. When Dunkin' Donuts rebranded its name to just Dunkin', it wasn't blamed on cancel culture. Yet somehow Mr. Potato Head remains a very popular toy sold in all the major stores has now been cancelled, because it is now called just Potato Head.

The angry folks blame it on trying to pander to different genders and communities, but that is just a case of pulling a bullshit agenda. I can say this with hundred percent confidence, because I am a parent that has bought a Mr. Potato Head toy for my kids in the past ten years, so I know what the product is like.

It hasn't for a long time just been Mr. Potato Head. You get a Mrs. Potato Head. You get little spuds. You get a dog and cat potato. It is a whole family of Potato Heads. Since that is the case, it just makes sense to drop the Mr. because there is more than just him. But he is still there. He isn't cancelled. You can buy a giant container with all of them and just play with the Mister if you so choose. But from a marketing standpoint, it makes sense to better represent your product, which is that it is a whole family of potatoes with faces. Potato Head isn't being progressive, it is about not limiting your advertising and appeal.

Nothing cancelled. Just more right-wing complaining and distortion of facts. I recommend they spend their time just playing with a Potato Head instead.

Actually Cancelled - The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The first episode aired on October 1, 1962, and had an incredible 30-year run until 1992 when Johnny Carson officially retired from the late-night talk show game and passed the torch over to Jay Leno. Now, he ended things under his terms because he no longer wanted to do it. But it was still ended, and so you could say it was cancelled.  Plus, there is very little chance of the show ever happening again on account that Carson passed away in 2005. 

There you go. Four things that some may try to convince you have been cancelled but are not. Then an example of four things that really are cancelled. Hopefully, this now has shown you the difference between not cancelling and actually cancelling. You're welcome.