A Parable about the Fight over “Cancel Culture”

We’ve all heard a lot about “Cancel Culture” lately, how Fox News and other right-wing media sources have decried the recent changes to such properties as Dr. Seuss and Mr. Potato Head. I was trying to leave it alone, trying to ignore it all, letting it just play out and eventually run out of fuel. But then they pulled me in.

I woke up this morning to notices in my Facebook feed that the New York Post and Fox News were calling on Generation X to help them in their fight against “the social media mob.” Well, Generation X certainly chimed in, reminding the Fox generation about our childhood. Reminding them how the conservatives of the 1970s and 1980s had tried to “cancel” so many things dear to us as children and adolescents. (My favorite being Dungeons & Dragons, a game I learned to love after first playing it at age 11 in the home of a United Church of Christ pastor — but of course, it was Satanic, we were told.)

ANYWAY, as I thought about this culture war, and how it’s been fought on so many battlegrounds in recent years, I slowly began to realize that I’d seen it all before, in a movie. A movie that’s very precious to me and many of my fellow Gen X-ers. I realized that that one scene from that film could serve as a parable, with hopefully a happy ending, to this battle. So, I present that parable here.

DOC BOOMER stands in the middle of a ghost town, smoking a cigar. He is unarmed, but behind him stand several armed GOONS. Also standing behind him is GENERATION X, looking very uncomfortable.

BOOMER:            Alright, Millennial. Where are ya?

MILLENNIAL:      I’m here. I’ll meet you in the middle of the street. Man to frog.

MILLENNIAL THE FROG walks out of a saloon, wearing cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat.

MILLENNIAL:      Okay, Boomer.

BOOMER:            Okay, Millennial. One last chance. You can do my TV commercials live or stuffed.

The GOONS load their weapons.

MILLENNIAL:      Boomer, what’s the matter with you? You gotta be crazy chasin’ me halfway across the country. Why are you doin’ this to me?

BOOMER:            ‘Cause all my life I wanted to own a thousand frog-leg restaurants… and you’re the key, greenie.

Other MILLENNIAL CREATURES join MILLENNIAL THE FROG as he speaks.

MILLENNIAL:      Yeah, well, I’ve got a dream too. But it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. The kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with. And, well, I’ve found a whole bunch of friends who have the same dream. And it kind of makes us like a family. You have anybody like that, Boomer? Once you get all those restaurants, who’re you gonna share it with? Who are your friends, Doc? Those guys?

BOOMER:            I got lots of friends. Gen X, for instance.

GENERATION X shakes his head, “No.”

BOOMER:            (plaintively) Gen X?

MILLENNIAL:      I don’t think you’re a bad man, Boomer. And I think if you look in your heart… you’ll find you really want to let me and my friends go… to follow our dream. But if that’s not the kind of man you are… and if what I’m saying doesn’t make any sense to you… well, then, go ahead and kill me.

BOOMER:            All right, boys. Kill him.

GENERATION X: No wait, please.

Suddenly, the ground begins to shake.

An enormous GENERATION Z, having eaten a jar full of INSTA-GROW PILLS, suddenly bursts through the roof of the Saloon, and roars.

DOC BOOMER and the GOONS run off, terrified.

GENERATION X runs off as well, laughing joyfully.

MILLENNIAL THE FROG and GENERATION Z ride off together into the sunset.

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