I think it is important that when anyone has an opportunity for sober second thought and comes up with a different conclusion than they first came to that they acknowledge that publicly. Confession is good for the soul, but admitting a change of heart is good for integrity.
The last post on my blog was about Neil Young and his decision to issue Spotify an ultimatum regarding his music or Joe Rogan’s podcast. His stance is strong and unwavering and what at first was kind of amusing to say the least became much more serious when others started joining in. The others that have joined in, and even more who have come out in public to make statements about it has revealed a different side of this than I had considered at first blush. I am not able to retract what I said as a possible contributing factor to the situation. I had made the claim that Neil Young had changed his view on censorship and government control because of an unhealthy dose of fear. That could still be a motivator in my mind, but instead of a rebel that was against the system changing completely because of life experience, I now see it in a different light because of all of the others who have become involved and what has taken place as a part of their involvement.
Long before we ever called it what we do in this modern era of technology driven protest, Neil Young was an original pioneer in the art of cancel culture. His entire movement was about giving the middle finger to those things that he disagreed with. And he roused his entire generation, motivating them to take action against leaders and powers and forces that he disagreed with. His medium of music was a powerful tool to allow many people, especially young people who were disaffected with life and felt disenfranchised from their own choices and destiny to latch on to a message of “change”. In larger and larger numbers they began to protest and push back against the establishment, those who they felt were denying them a real voice for change. And Neil Young and those like him in the rock festival atmosphere that preached this message of liberation and pushback against authority made a powerful impact. The leopard has not lost it’s spots.
I read an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who initially had come out in support of Joe Rogan, who quickly changed his tune when he got a lot of negative feedback for his statements of support. As I considered what was happening, it was a typical pattern of cancelation of someone out of step with the acceptable narrative. This was the definitive indicator for me that I needed to reconsider my suspicion that Neil Young had changed at all. The pattern of protest against what he disagreed with became very clear and he was once again using his influence to push back against something that he personally felt needed to be cancelled. I now believe it has less to do with a man changing completely from what he has been in the past to a man exhibiting the same pattern he has always exhibited. The name by which we refer to his pattern of behavior is the only thing that has changed. He is cancelling through protest.
I can leave the conversation of deciding whether he is right or wrong in his moral assessment of who is cancelled or why something is worthy of the trash bin of history. That is a conversation for another time. What my point is in this post is that I have had to reconsider my assertions about the motivations and actions of a man who seemed to be concerned with freedom and choice. Maybe it has never been about openness to everyone’s freedom. From the fallout that I have searched through in this explosion of a cultural moment, it looks more like it is about shutting down and cancelling than about freedom after all.