Australian rocker Nick Cave mourned the lack of mercy in today’s society steered by cancel culture, writing on his website that political correctness “has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world.”
The Bad Seeds lead singer responded to a fan’s question on “cancel culture” — the act of “canceling” or withdrawing support of an individual, group, company, etc. after the entity commits what critics or the “woke mob” considers an unpardonable offense. Cancel culture is often used by political figures, Hollywood, and social media companies to censor or silence ideological opponents.
Nick Cave addressed the importance of mercy and tolerance in society — something cancel culture effectively thrives without.
“Tolerance allows the spirit of enquiry the confidence to roam freely, to make mistakes, to self-correct, to be bold, to dare to doubt and in the process to chance upon new and more advanced ideas. Without mercy society grows inflexible, fearful, vindictive and humourless,” he wrote, deeming cancel culture as “mercy’s antithesis.”
Cave’s comments continued:
Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck.
The rocker identified cancel culture’s “refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas,” explaining the impact it has on artists. It, according to Cave, has an “asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society.”
Compassion is the primary experience — the heart event — out of which emerges the genius and generosity of the imagination. Creativity is an act of love that can knock up against our most foundational beliefs, and in doing so brings forth fresh ways of seeing the world. This is both the function and glory of art and ideas. A force that finds its meaning in the cancellation of these difficult ideas hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.
The “Into My Arms” singer provided a stroke of optimism but maintained a cautionary tone.
“We are a culture in transition, and it may be that we are heading toward a more equal society — I don’t know — but what essential values will we forfeit in the process?” he asked.
A handful of celebrities have used their platforms to push back against cancel culture in recent weeks, including British comedian and provocateur Ricky Gervais.
“If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don’t like them, that’s everyone’s right,” Gervais recently told The Metro. “But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion about something that’s nothing to do with their job, that’s what I call cancel culture, and that’s not cool.”
“You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship,” he continued. “You trying to get other people to turn off their TV because you don’t like something they’re watching, that’s different.”
Grammy-winning singer Kelly Rowland also spoke out on the subject last week, urging people to “stop tryin’ to be God.”
“In this ‘cancel culture’ we live in, I am SO grateful God NEVER canceled me, And I’m sure he could’ve many-a-times!” the R&B singer wrote in part, pushing people to ” lead With love & kindness.”
This is not the first time Cave has taken a stand against cancel culture. The Australian artist made waves in 2017 after performing in Israel — a decision he partially credited to the BDS movement, which he said “bullies and censors” artists.
“So at the end of the day there are two reasons why I am here. One is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people and also two is to make a principled stand against anyone who wants to censor and silence musicians,” Cave said at the time.
“It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians,” he continued, adding, “So really you could say in a way that the BDS made me play Israel.”