Depending on who you ask, cancel culture is the greatest threat to Western civilisation, a reckoning for the terminally crass, or an overhyped problem that can’t even destroy JK Rowling’s career. Our own Jazza argued that it can’t even be defined satisfactorily.
What isn’t disputable is that some internet types have taken to organising boycotts against certain artists for having the wrong opinions. Some of the candidates are obvious, although Harry Potter fans have been noticeably reticent about fully abandoning Rowling – they love the books too much.
A more obscure candidate for retribution has emerged in the form of Oasis. Force Field, a music PR and management firm, recently called for people to dump their Oasis records, presumably because of Noel Gallagher’s stance on mask wearing. “Who else has revealed their garbage opinions as of late?” the company asked.
The Gallagher brothers have long been noted for their brash opinions, with Noel once wishing AIDS on rival musicians Blur at the height of the Britpop silliness in the nineties. Even so, the pair have calmed down, and the older Gallagher has assumed an elder statesman role in rock music.
I’m curious how many of those who believe in cancelling people own Oasis records. (Lay aside that we live in the streaming era anyway.) Culture-cancelling wokies are clearly going to be on the Blur side of the Britpop wars, maybe with a side of Suede or some Radiohead. (All good bands, by the by.)
Just as it’s hard to imagine your typical Oasis fan being that irate about a Gallagher saying something off-colour, it’s easy to imagine a typical Radiohead fan being annoyed by a stray remark and going off the band. In other words, some bands will be more cancel-proof than others based on their fanbases.
It is of course debatable whether the music industry would tolerate an explicitly unwoke new band. To take a related example, the mighty Joe Rogan’s podcast has faced pressure from Spotify staff because he is ideologically omnivorous. Smaller podcasts might be ignored, or quietly shown the door, as the censorious xkcd comic has it.
New bands can do it all themselves, from booking gigs to putting out records and everything in between. But an ideological test act for the creative industries will hurt some careers, with little benefit for art.