Cancel CultureDaily DuhWhen Cancel Culture Backfires

Neil Young vs. Joe Rogan: When Cancel Culture BackfiresJanuary 28, 2022

Every­one’s cir­cling the wag­ons and retreat­ing to their cor­ners, to man­gle metaphors:

This week’s car­di­nal sin is Mis­in­for­ma­tion: If you have the gall to ques­tion vac­cine man­dates or lock­downs or whether to vac­ci­nate chil­dren under 12, you’ll be brand­ed with an M for Mis­in­for­ma­tion and ban­ished from Twit­ter and Face­book and Spo­ti­fy, and…

Wait; back up one: Spotify?

Yep. Seems Neil Young got wind of Joe Rogan com­mit­ting the sin of Mis­in­for­ma­tion on Spo­ti­fy. So he took Spo­ti­fy to task on his web­site, post­ing “I want you to let Spo­ti­fy know imme­di­ate­ly TODAY that I want all my music off their plat­form. They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”

Two prob­lems here:

  1. Young does­n’t own the mas­ters of his albums: Warn­er Bros. does.
  2. Rogan is the most pop­u­lar pod­cast­er in the world; in fact, he signed a $150 mil­lion deal with Spo­ti­fy in 2020.

So Young was hor­ri­fied when Spo­ti­fy shrugged and removed his music. Young’s post was hasti­ly hoicked off his web­site, and was soon replaced with an embar­rassed “Before I told my friends at Warn­er Bros. about my desire to leave the SPOTIFY plat­form, I was remind­ed by my own legal forces that con­trac­tu­al­ly I did not have the con­trol of my music to do that.”

Young’s been com­plain­ing about stream­ing music in gen­er­al, and specif­i­cal­ly audio qual­i­ty, for years. He’s been threat­en­ing to yank his music from Spo­ti­fy for years, even though (See No. 1 up there) legal­ly he can’t.

You’d think he might have learned some­thing when Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alaba­ma blew Young’s South­ern Man away like a fart in a hur­ri­cane. I love Young’s music; always have. Even South­ern Man. But he’s one of those celebri­ties who thinks we’re all enti­tled to his opin­ion: In this case, that Spo­ti­fy can’t pos­si­bly sur­vive with­out him.

But Young’s “friends at Warn­er Bros.” weren’t buy­ing it. So Young simul­ta­ne­ous­ly backpedaled and gaslight­ed the  sit­u­a­tion (which is an impres­sive feat), and said this whole sil­ly mis­un­der­stand­ing is about audio qual­i­ty. Riiight.

But there’s always hope: Maybe old dinosaurs like Neil Young can learn new tricks. In the mean­time, some schaden­freude is def­i­nite­ly in order: Young’s learn­ing the hard way that can­cel cul­ture can bite back, and it’s a lot less fun if you’re the col­lat­er­al damage.

Kudos to Warn­er Bros.: Maybe their deci­sion was more about mon­ey than scru­ples, but as Gina Cara­no and Dave Chap­pelle have ably demon­strat­ed: Can­cel cul­ture has no pow­er unless we sur­ren­der to it. When com­pa­nies refuse to knuck­le under to pres­sure, and celebri­ties refuse to apol­o­gize and grov­el, can­cel cul­ture’s about as destruc­tive and scary as a Nerf sledgehammer.

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