Another week, another comedian gets cancelled.
This time it is the turn of Alfie Brown, who got into a Twitter argument with a Jewish woman about Jeremy Corbyn, and then fell prey to a particularly vicious bout of offence archeology from the Corbynista nuts.
An old video emerged of Alfie trying to ridicule both racism and virtue signalling in a standup routine in which he uses the n-word. Not something I’d have done, and not his best work, but also not that surprising given that transgressive comedy has always been Alfie’s style.
He was later mocked for pointing out the clip was from 2015, his persecutors shrieking about how recent that date is. Yet, as bizarre as it is, we know that the pre-Brexit, pre-Trump era was different, as the culture war had not yet escalated to anything like its current pitch. For example, In 2008 Louis C.K. used the n-word repeatedly in a routine from his massively successful Chewed Up special, which was roundly praised.
Of course, many will not be thrilled by a white man using that word in any context, but is a misguided comedy routine really a good reason to viciously bully someone and attempt to destroy their livelihood?
And in case anyone thinks I’m exaggerating, or that “cancel culture doesn’t exist”, the mob have made it particularly easy for us in this case by getting Alfie’s gigs cancelled, and employing almost cartoonishly evil phrases like “bully him more”.
Another implied bullying alone wasn’t enough, suggesting “He needs to get jumped”.
(Unsurprisingly this person has “Marxist-Leninist” in their bio).
All this came in reply to Alfie’s apology, proving once again that apologies are always a tactical error when dealing with merciless ideological thugs. But they are also forgivable under the pressure of a brutal Twitter pile-on.
The offence archaeologists then dug up a routine from Alfie about Greta Thunberg, which to them was outrageous, as they sadly possess no sense of humour, but to normal people was funny.
And, in classic cancel culture fashion, they contacted the comedy venue where he was due to perform this weekend, threatening to take “peaceful but preventative action”. The club, known in the industry for also running a woke agency, immediately capitulated and cancelled Alfie from the gig.
The Twitter mob did all this while claiming that cancel culture doesn’t exist, interspersed with smug comments about ‘consequences’, and the endlessly witty notion that Alfie would end up on GB News.
The latter seems unlikely to me, as I know Alfie a bit and very much doubt he is a fan of the channel. Yet it is the GB News roster of comedians, alongside other outcast comics like Andrew Lawrence, who have been the only ones to defend him, whilst most of his colleagues kick him while he’s down.
Like another Louis C.K. joke, I’m sure Alfie is gutted to find out who his real friends are (“It’s never who you want it to be. It’s not your cool friends, and it’s not your fun friends… it’s your real friends”).
But it’s not about your personal relationship with the person being cancelled, or whether you agree with their politics. It’s about whether you believe in free expression in what – as Andrew Doyle has pointed out – is an “essentially theatrical medium“.
And it’s about whether you think people should be able to experiment and make mistakes, or whether you’re on the side of those digging up whatever alleged ‘dirt’ they can on their political opponents in order to try and stop them making a living.
This latest episode shows that people have learnt absolutely nothing, and remain as rabid as ever in their quest to destroy their perceived ideological enemies.
Depressingly, cancel culture shows no sign of being cancelled.
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