In case we needed further evidence that “cancel culture” is all one elaborate grift, a whole handful of men who have been accused of sexual misconduct and other problematic behaviors have been nominated for Grammys.
Those men include Dave Chappelle, Louis C.K., and Kevin Hart, who are all nominated for Comedy Album of the Year, and Marilyn Manson, whose collaboration on Kanye West’s Donda is nominated for Best Rap Album.
Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. has since defended these nominations, telling The Wrap:
“We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration. We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria. If it is, they can submit for consideration.”
So, the Grammys will potentially honor abusers and transphobes and “won’t look back at people’s history” — but we’re more than happy to do so.
Kevin Hart, you’ll recall, almost hosted the 2019 Academy Awards, until months before the Awards, wildly homophobic tweets and jokes he’d previously made resurfaced — including his “jokes” about trying to prevent his son from becoming gay. As recent as 2015, he defended the homophobic jokes in his movie, Get Hard.
Louis C.K., the comedian who’s claimed to be canceled all while embarking on a national stand-up tour this year, admitted in 2017 to forcibly masturbating in front of multiple women. In his first show back in 2018, supposedly after some self-reflection, he centered his comedy around gender pronouns and belittling the students who survived the Parkland shooting. More recently, he sarcastically posed before a giant “SORRY” sign, suggesting he’s maybe not sorry at all?
Marilyn Manson is accused of rape, sexual assault, and a wide range of acts of physical and emotional abuse by more than a dozen women who came forward earlier this year.
And Chappelle’s Netflix comedy special The Closer, which released earlier this year, is teeming with anti-trans “jokes,” as well as a reference to a time he claims to have beaten a lesbian woman, and a general, pervasive obsession with trans women’s genitals. In the face of significant backlash over The Closer, Chappelle has continued to perform stand-up before packed audiences, at times either joking about how wonderful it is to be “canceled,” or lamenting his victimhood now that film festivals have realized he has only one joke, and allegedly disinvited him en masse.
These Grammy nominations speak to the reality that social consequences for powerful people who treat others terribly rarely translate into professional or institutional consequences. Hart, C.K., and Chappelle’s careers are all thriving, as they sell out shows and in Hart’s case, star in movie after movie. In September, a judge dismissed a sexual abuse lawsuit against Manson. These men may be upset that not everyone has to like them, as more of their victims speak up, but their careers are certainly benefiting from the attention and opportunities that have come their way as a result of whining about being canceled.
As Jezebel contributor Zeba Blay wrote last month, this is because alongside “outrage will always come counter-outrage — people who want to signal their intellectual freedom or social individualism by steadfastly applauding artists who spout harmful or outdated ideas.” Blay importantly noted that men, like Hart and Chappelle specifically, “seek to mitigate their irrelevance by orchestrating controversies that position them as arbiters of free thought and free speech, when they are in fact less interested in these ideals than they are with constructing and maintaining their own legend.”
Amid Hart, C.K., Manson and Chappelle getting honored by the Recording Academy, it’s not clear whether Hollywood just suffers from collective short-term memory, or genuinely doesn’t care about survivors and queer and trans people — perhaps it’s a mix of both. But in any case, the next time Chappelle publicly weeps about being “canceled,” he might be a Grammy winner.