On the “commercial side of cancel culture”

Writing on his blog last week, Evan Brown said about “morals clauses” in contracts:

These clauses provide the means for the commercial side of cancel culture to flourish.

Evan Brown

Evan is a fellow 812 native and a person for whom I have tremendous respect. I wouldn’t think to argue with him on a matter of law, but this is a matter of culture, so I will.

We’re starting from different points. Evan clearly believes that “cancel culture” is a real concern. I don’t. I’ll grant that there is a possible extreme that would be a problem, but I do not believe we are there or that we are approaching it. What is called “cancel culture” is often “facing accountability for one’s improper actions.”

To that end, I proposed that the “commercial side of cancel culture” could also be called “the free market”. This specific case—Jeep pulling use of an ad featuring Bruce Springsteen after news came out that he recently had a DUI arrest—is a particularly bad example to use to make the point, too. First of all, it is very reasonable that a vehicle company would want to dissociate from someone who recently had a drunk driving arrest. Secondly, the harm is not on the person “canceled” (to the degree that Bruce Springsteen can be canceled).

Springsteen presumably got paid already (although there may be a clawback clause or a payment structure that has not fully completed yet). He doesn’t need the money or the fame. Meanwhile, Jeep produced an ad and purchased air time for it. They probably planned for a much longer run over which to recoup their expenses. I’m not suggesting we feel sorry for Jeep, but I also don’t think we need to shed any tears for The Boss.