ABC struck gold in 2018 when it brought back the ground-breaking sitcom “Roseanne.”
Not only was the reboot a ratings smash, but it reached out to Red State America at a time when broadcast TV had little appetite for such a move.
ABC suits liked the results — huge ratings and a reborn property that could run for years. Then star Roseanne Barr uncorked an awful, racist Tweet, and it all came crashing down.
ABC brass surveyed the landscape, crunched some numbers, and decided it was worth losing millions to fire Barr despite her heartfelt apology.
Short lesson? Money didn’t matter.
That’s not what we typically associate with show business, but it’s more common than you think.
That lesson clearly escaped Matt Stone, co-creator of Comedy Central’s “South Park.” Stone and creative partner Trey Parker just signed a massive – $900 million – deal to bring more “South Park” episodes to air along with movies and related projects for Paramount Plus members.
Stone, speaking up for the first time following the mega-deal, suggested he’s unaware of how far along Cancel Culture is these days.
Do you worry at all about “cancel culture”?
No. As you can see from this deal, we have ‘f*** you’ money now.
We’re more interested in it than whining about it. It’s a legit cultural change. We explore it all the time in the show.
Stone has survived Cancel Culture so long he thinks he’s permanently immune to it. He’s only partially right. His unwillingness to apologize for his jokes, and a string of successful products, inoculated him against the cultural virus.
How long will that immunity last?
Stone and Parker are artistic troublemakers. It’s in their DNA, and no one wants them to change that approach. Let’s see what happens if one of their projects hits the “wrong” target or personality. Big Tech already censors comedians who tell the wrong kind of jokes.
At this cultural moment no one is 100 percent protected from Cancel Culture, and the toxic trend waxes and wanes in ways that are impossible to predict. Who could have predicted a sportscaster would be unemployed after saying, “All Lives Matter?”
And, as we’ve learned, it doesn’t matter how much money an artist brings to the powers that be.
Would the worker drones at Spotify demand, and get, 10 separate meetings to discuss censoring Joe Rogan if they didn’t think they could succeed?
ViacomCBS wrote that gargantuan check to Stone and Parker. The duo’s work thrives on HBO Max, Comedy Central and Paramount Plus. Those are corporate giants, the kind that swiftly buckle when the woke mob comes a calling.
Remember how HBO Max erased “Gone with the Wind,” only to bring it back with a warning label?
Cancel Culture drones are bullies, and Stone and Parker have shown they aren’t easily pushed around. That helps them immensely, but there’s no contract large enough to ensure their creative survival if Cancel Culture wants them gone.