I admit that when I had to read Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein" in high school, I relied more on my friends' summaries than content gleaned from actually cracking the book. Needless to say, my memory of the storyline is a bit hazy, but I remember the premise. Dr. Frankenstein creates this giant dude with a pea brain from a bunch of old body parts. He and society reject the monster and so it goes postal.
The other part I remember is how once the monster began his terror spree, the good doctor was helpless to stop him. This is what gives us our modern idiom, "created a monster."
I don't know if the story of Frankenstein will ever slip out of our collective consciousness, but looking at the modern state of cancel culture in America, I feel quite confident the premise never will.
Simply put, no one can survive what has been created.
This is more than the political axiom that, given enough time, revolutionaries always turn on one another. This is far more insidious. This is a faceless mob monster that will devour anyone who isn't ... well, perfect.
It's my warning to friends I see joining in with online bullying and dog-piling. It's only a matter of time before it comes for you. And if you don't believe that, there's no one who has been riding a wave of pop-culture affection quite like "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel-Miranda. And yet, the fact that he dared re-introduce (or introduce) millions of Americans to a key Founding Father, guess what:
But it goes far beyond just Miranda and his "Hamilton" friends. There's a long list of the woke cancel crowd that has experienced an unfortunate rendezvous with their own monster.
Actress Alyssa Milano aggressively utilized the #MeToo platform to cancel anyone she perceived to be anti-feminist, famously going all the way to the Senate confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh to carry the cancel banner. Then someone found a sketch of Milano in blackface playing Jersey Shore's Snooki, and she's been treading water ever since.
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel has paid all his dues to the left-wing social justice crowd, using his immense platform to turn a comedy program into a nightly airing of political grievances. But when you demand woke perfection from your enemies, don't be surprised when you're called on your own use of the "N-word," skits in blackface, and inappropriate interviews with 15-year-old actresses.
Same goes for left-wing comedienne Tina Fey who, when she wasn't strutting around town condemning white ladies for betraying their gender by supporting the Republican president, was apparently writing blackface scripts for her hit show "30 Rock" on NBC. Fey tried to do damage control by asking Hulu to purge the offending program(s). I guess you'd call that a pre-emptive self-canceling. Bold.
Even the wokest of them all, Atlantic writer and former ESPN host Jemele Hill, who has never encountered someone she couldn't cancel if she just digs back far enough in their lurid past, apparently should have spent a little more time scrubbing her own.
Yes, by current standards that would be deemed "transphobia." Highly cancellable.
And we could keep going. Self-described uber-feminist Joss Whedon goes down:
Never-Trump cable news regular Rick Wilson, just days after trying to cancel Domino's Pizza over a nearly decade-old thank-you tweet to now White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, got scorched himself.
Is there part of any normal human soul that derives a sense of enjoyment out of seeing someone hoisted on their own petard? Of course. But wisdom and prudence tells us that those moments will only be fleeting as eventually, with our fallen enemies in his wake, Frankenstein will come for us too.
None of this is healthy or reasonable. People are fallen, and people are forgivable. If we've lost sight of that fact, then Western Civilization is mirroring the storyline from another book I didn't read like I should have in high school: The Crucible.
After all, the line between Puritans destroying lives over superstition and social justice mobs destroying lives over wokeness is razor thin.