Corey Taylor Decries “Cancel Culture” and “Outrage Age” in New Op-Ed


At MetalSucks, we’ve always maintained that musicians in our community who find themselves forced to explain something hurtful or embarrassing they’ve done or said in the past should, at first, be given the benefit of the doubt; it’s how they respond to such accusations that should be the measure of their character and determine how we view them going forward. Are they able to display genuine self-reflection and contrition and offer a full-throated apology, or do they simply become defensive, digging their heels in while blaming everyone but themselves? Too often it’s the latter (see: most black metal musicians), but a few have shown maturity and an ability to grow (Eddie Hermida and Jim Riley, for example).

With that in mind, please read Slipknot / Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor’s recent op-ed for Rolling Stone in which he decries “cancel culture,” not by defending those who have become its targets — he specifically advocates for addressing “real issues, like systemic racism, toxic sexism, abusing positions of power, discrimination, and all the trimmings that go with these problems” — but by saying many folks are often too quick to “cancel” those who have made a mistake without allowing for an opportunity to grow. I back that sentiment. As much as we like to poke fun at Taylor around these parts, if you’ve followed his career even a little you know he’s on the right side of the issues mentioned above. But nuance is necessary and conversations around these issues are important instead of knee-jerk reactions, he argues (and again, I agree).

After beginning the op-ed with a few paragraphs about his decision to conduct a Covid-19-safe solo tour this spring, and the specific, rigid safety measures involved in that — which we covered this morning — Taylor moves onto the “cancel culture” issue, stating:

“Welcome to the Outrage Age.

“We find ourselves completely enveloped in a generation of extremes; the global manifestation of the mob in the Colosseum, yelling for Caesar to choose death but then wishing it on the Emperor himself if he goes against their judgment. The past is regarded by some as a bygone era of conversation. Then again, it’s because of these older conversations that we’ve chosen to course-correct so harshly: talk led to nothing- no justice, no change and no movement. The adverse effect is that instead of a decent talk, we have an echo chamber full of self-righteous garbage and unintelligible vitriol.

“It started with real issues, like systemic racism, toxic sexism, abusing positions of power, discrimination, and all the trimmings that go with these problems. Sadly, though, for whatever reason, we all became addicted to the drama and the upheaval, and we looked for anything else to be pissed off about, with little or no content. Now it doesn’t take much to stir the crowd: Taylor Swift not taking a joke from a Netflix show no one would’ve noticed had she just let it go, the remake of The Witches and the uproar because the witches’ hands accidentally resemble a special disability, Winston Marshall reading the wrong book and liking it, Sia and the cardinal sin of trying to create something to pull back the curtain on autism, albeit in a misguided way, but not in a malicious way.

“No one can handle anything anymore, which means no one can handle real talk anymore, which means everyone just wants to cancel shit, with no room for improvement. There are several people at fault for this: the right, the left, the media, celebrities, the Internet, social media, but if you’re truly looking for who’s really responsible, or more importantly irresponsible, you should probably find the nearest mirror.

“No one lets small shit slide anymore. We treat “Baby It’s Cold Outside” — a song you only really hear seasonally — like some nefarious carol… and yet some of the biggest pop songs in the last five to 10 years certainly wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny when it comes to subject matter. I’m not saying it’s right — I’m just telling you how it is: when you use the same level of outrage for little shit that you should reserve for the bigger issues, people are not going to take you seriously. You may dismiss that, but things don’t get done on a singular level — it takes the plural to make change, especially the kind of change that takes bringing together people who may or may not have anything else in common with you, except for one fleeting moment agreeing on the egregious.

“Social media has trained us to do two things: to only acknowledge positive feedback in “likes” or “hearts,” and to only engage in the back-and-forth if it’s negative. Maybe — JUUUUUUST maybe — if we let some of the meaningless bullshit float off in the breeze, maybe people would actually give a damn on both sides of the cultural coin. However, when you use the same amount of emphasis and passion fighting racism and misogyny as you do fighting the weird goings-on of a cartoon skunk, don’t be surprised or get pissed when people tune you out on the real issues.

“I’m not saying there aren’t things that deserve our attention. I’m not saying that things shouldn’t change in so many different ways. I’m not even going to tell you that you have no right to be passionate on social change. What I’m saying is pick your spots, know what the hell’s going on before you go chasing after people with pitchforks for no fucking reason whatsoever. There’s so much to be done on so many different things, you don’t have to protest everything that someone tries to hoist up the pole as a red flag.

“Be a little smarter in how you swing the hammer, because when everything is a problem, that means everyone is a suspect… including yourselves. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, to paraphrase. Nobody’s perfect; stop acting like we all should be.”

You can read Taylor’s full op-ed at Rolling Stone.

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