Please Don’t Cancel Philosophy Tube
Cancel culture, which does not exist, is still a bit of a problem. Seriously.
Edit: Yes, I wrote this before Abigail came out as trans and yes, I know that this story just got a whole lot more complex in a very crunchy and cool way. I’ll flesh out my update to this article soon, but sufficed to say, I’ve changed all references to Abigail’s deadname and old pronouns for the time being.
Edit to the edit: Never mind. I just wrote another story.
I just needed to lampshade the term cancel culture. Get it out in the open.
It’s the first word that pops into mind when you think of performative woke criticism. And even though I don’t use the word in complete sincerity anymore, it’s hard not to think about it when Abigail Thorne, the wokest person east of the Atlantic, is getting shit for making a dad joke.
Abigail Thorn is the creator of the YouTube channel “Philosophy Tube,” where she breaks down philosophical topics that she learned about while getting her masters degree in the subject. She’s been at the goal of providing a free philosophy education to those who cannot achieve one for the better half of a decade.
During that time, she has come to express her more of his progressive values and even begun identifying as a leftist. As she has become more and more vocal about her beliefs, she has become particularly outspoken about her support of trans rights. She made an excellent video against transphobia a little over two years ago, which I would strongly recommend.
To be completely honest, it wasn’t a great joke. I’ll be the first to admit it. But you know what? You only become funnier by telling bad jokes and getting shit for it. If you want to criticize Abigail Thorn for a bad joke, I, for one, support your efforts.
But what I do not support is the incessant, feeble heroism that emanates from the online left every time someone who is clearly progressive makes a comment that could be interpreted as ambiguously unorthodox.
Don’t get me wrong: some people need to be slapped on the wrist for appropriating what is in fact a very useful and descriptive term. The president herself uses the term “cancel culture” as a synonym for “AntiFa” which in turn seems to be a euphemism for “radical homosexuals.” Lots of scary terms being thrown around, I know, and it’s not being done toward the ends of accuracy and social justice.
However, whatever term we use, we need to be aware of the trend this community, myself included, has toward using the perceived failings of our own icons to gain ourselves status points. The comment Thorn made can be interpreted a few ways, and only a stretch minority of them can be perceived as toxic.
I mean, she’s making a pun on the word ‘transition,’ right? And saying that it’s ironic that the term transition, which is also used to describe a trans person’s individualized process of gaining the attributes necessary to be seen as their authentic gender, is being used in reference to a person that is a very notorious transphobe? Like, that’s it, right?
Though many people in the replies have asserted that the suggestion of the joke is that Trump would be an even worserer person if he was trans/a woman, that kind of defies Occum’s Razor a bit. Right? Am I crazy? I feel like I might be legitimately crazy.
The replies to this tweet are composed of four general categories:
- People agreeing, disagreeing, laughing, or booing at the shitty dad joke
- The “I’m cis but this is totally transphobic and undermining the trans struggle and also misogynistic” crowd
- The “This tweet is transphobic. Sincerely, a trans person” crowd, and
- The “This tweet is actually not transphobic. Sincerely, a trans person” repliers to the third group.
Is there a cis version of the “M’lady” fedora tip? Because that second group is unbearably cringey.
Don’t get me wrong: I’d rather they try to gain brownie points with progressives than dedicate their limited moment of consciousness trying to trigger them, which is apparently the only other choice in 2020. But I do wish they wouldn’t embarrass me, you know?
All in all, I must say that the third group is the most intriguing. Have you ever met someone who consistently uses an idiom incorrectly? You know:
“The proof of the pudding”?
“I could care less”?
“Deformation of character”?
“For all intensive purposes”?
“Nip in the butt”?
“France is beacon”?
That’s kind of what these folks remind me of. Every time I see some TERF on Twitter threaten to sue me for “deformation of character” I get that same little wince of “oh, here it comes. The big stupid.”
The sacrosanctity of transness did not seem to apply when Thorn was being pushed to disavow her friend of many years, Natalie Wynn, aka
ContraPoints. Wynn is another brilliant progressive YouTuber who has an incredible body of work promoting trans rights. As a binary trans woman, Wynn does have a tendency to talk about the demographic to which she belongs. But she has extensive material regarding trans men, nonbinary identities and even gender-nonconforming cis identities under her belt.
Wynn was cancelled herself about a year ago due, in part, to some comments people interpreted as enbyphobic. (I don’t really need to get into this, do I? It was dumb and silly and I hated it and she is wonderful).
Again, if you want to play the ‘absolute trans card’ in attack mode, I am an enby who was completely unoffended by her tweets (in which she voiced her desire for people to assume her she/her pronouns) as well as her inclusion of Buck Angel, aka Angel Buck (a tiny bit of a truscum, in my opinion), as a voice actor in her video Opulence (mandatory viewing).
Also, Wynn identified as genderqueer herself before determining that the binary label was more apt for her, so simply signing a critical comment of her with “sincerely, an enby” is not really good enough in this instance.
And strangely enough, Abi was targeted in that cancelling too! Her fans demanded that she disown her or return Patreon money. You know, the money she lives on. Because she makes thousands of dollars worth of progressive content.
I mean, are we even progressives at this point?
I don’t know, fam: on the one hand, the term ‘cancel culture’ is pretty rotten at this point. We have allowed alt-righters and MAGAs to take it from us, as they do virtually everything. And people do have the right to voice their opinions on benign comments.
But the cancelling of Natalie Wynn lead to a months-long depressive period for her, wherein she was unable to make YouTube content: that’s was about four months worth of quality leftist/progressive content, four months of ‘former alt-righters’ and ‘former anti-SJWs’ and even former conservatives that we deprived ourselves of.
As Wynn acknowledged in her last video, she didn’t even make a video in support of Bernie Sanders: think about how many hundreds of thousands of votes Bernie might have gotten in the primary if this 1,000,000 subscriber channel appealing prominently to liberals had made that video?
Thorn is a ridiculously consistent content creator: as she said in her famous video about depression and suicidality, her emotional distress has never lead her to missing more than a single upload date. That’s pretty damn consistent. I’m not really worried that this blip will slow her down none.
But fuck, I wish the risk wasn’t being taken so damn often. And for such self-centered reasons.
A trans person