Sarah Silverman recently raised questions about cancel culture on "The Bill Simmons Podcast" while talking about how she was recently fired from a movie for appearing in blackface during a 2007 sketch on her Comedy Central show, "The Sarah Silverman Program."
"I recently was going to do a movie ... a really sweet part and a cool little movie," Silverman said. "Then at 11 p.m. the night before, they fired me because they saw that picture of me in blackface from that episode."
In the sketch in question, Silverman wears blackface to see if it's more difficult to be black or Jewish. Silverman has since tried to distance herself from the sketch before. "I don't stand by the blackface sketch. I'm horrified by it, and I can't erase it. I can only be changed by it and move on," she told GQ last year. "That was such liberal-bubble stuff, where I actually thought it was dealing with racism by using racism. I don't get joy in that anymore. It makes me feel yucky." Regardless, Silverman ultimately got canned for it.
The comedian went with the producer's decision. "I didn't fight it," she continued. "They hired someone else who is wonderful but who has never stuck their neck out. It was so disheartening. It just made me real, real sad because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right."
Silverman in the 2007 episode of The Sarah Silverman show.
Blackface is something that is clearly offensive, and has been for quite some time. However, Silverman says that where we were regarding race 12 years ago and where we are now are two very different places. "[T]here was so much I didn't know," Silverman said. "I knew there was racism, I knew that there was and I wanted to illuminate that in some way in comedy. But I didn't know that cops were killing black people and unarmed black teenagers on the regular, and that changed me forever."
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Silverman said that cancel culture might be taking things too far, calling it, "righteousness porn." There's a difference between pointing out someone's mistakes so they can change their behavior and taking enjoyment in someone else's shortcomings. "It's like, if you're not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone," she said. "It's so odd. It's a perversion. It's really, 'Look how righteous I am and now I'm going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.'"
Silverman's comments on cancel culture raised some interesting points. Should we cancel people who have already owned up to their faults and vowed to change them? Are we preventing people from growing by canceling them? Is loudly demanding we cancel someone just as toxic as the bad behaviors we're trying to cancel?
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