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What Kyrie and Kanye don’t understand about cancel culture

By Che

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

I’m not a big fan of “cancel culture,” the idea that we should collectively remove ideas we disagree with just because they don’t fit our preferred narrative. To remove ideas means that we never test the limits and challenge our comfortability. This will not only prevent growth, but push us further backwards in the evolutionary process.  

But the thing with “cancel culture” is that it is more a representation of who has power. Those that own, do. Those that don’t, beg those that own to intervene on their behalf.  

Recently, rapper and entertainment icon Kanye West went through the “cancel culture” gauntlet after he made disparaging remarks about Jewish people. He lost billions of dollars in contract deals which include big names such as Adidas, Def Jam, and Balenciaga. It has gotten so bad that even Goodwill is refusing to accept donations of products associated with him.  

The same is happening with NBA superstar Kyrie Irving. He’s facing backlash for tweeting a link to a documentary that allegedly contains antisemitic rhetoric. Although Irving himself never said anything “antisemitic,” he has been suspended from Brooklyn Nets without pay for a minimum of five games until he “satisfies a series of remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct.” 

One of the things that Kanye, now known as “Ye,” has made reference to is that many people in prominent positions of power are Jewish. He referred to the media as the “Jewish media” because of Jews holding top ranking positions within the industry. 

I don’t think Ye’s rants are necessarily “antisemitic” as much as they are a confession of having a lack of true power. Ye has brand recognition and can create music and art i.e., intellectual property. However, intellectual property is useless if one doesn’t have the material to make it tangible. Those belong to certain people, not a particular race or religion, but people who own the actual infrastructure to make what exists in Ye’s head a reality. 

An example of this is this article right here. What your reading is a product of my intellect. Che conjured up this idea, put together these words in a particular fashion and packaged it in the form of a comprehensible article. However, the manner in which I am conveying it is through a computer, a MacBook Air to be exact. MacBook is owned by Apple. You are reading this on a particular platform, ScoonTV. ScoonTV is owned by Curtis Scoon. I delivered it to him via Gmail, which is owned by Google.  

Of course, there are many other entities involved that I don’t know the names of, such as the minerals that create the hardware for the laptop. All of these things are vital for this article to actually appear in front of you. The same is true of Ye and what he creates. The music, the shoes, the platforms, all of them are valuable only when the machine moves for them. Without the machine, they are just ideas in one man’s mind that never manifest into reality.  

If ever there was a lesson to be found in the whole Covid saga, it was exactly what I’m talking about here. Supply chains were disrupted due to the lockdowns and this hurt many businesses. We also saw that problems arose when foreign countries controlled vital industries within the supply chain. In particular, China holds valuable materials concerning the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals that we need here in the US. This made us subservient to their regime in some ways as we had to rely on them to take care of the health of its citizens.  

What does this have to do with “cancel culture?” “Cancel culture” belongs to the owners. We can talk all day long about “freedom of speech” and how “bad ideas are defeated with better ideas” but none of that matters when it comes to ownership. Just like in infrastructure and supply chains, the power is in the hands of those that own.  

At the forefront of mainstream culture are the “Kanyes” and “Kyries.” They are extremely talented individuals with magnificent minds. But those minds and talents have to succumb to the whims of those that have real power. This is what happens when you have a society more interested in celebrity and fame than the tangibles that make industry function. And it’s a small circle of people that aren’t willing, and rightfully so, to give up their position.  

One thing I understand about the world is that, at a high level, real influencers don’t play for likes or views. They don’t even play for money. They play for position. Inflation and geopolitics are crippling the US dollar. Just recently, it has been revealed that Saudi Arabia is in talks to join BRICS, an alliance of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. This would destroy the dollar and the US economy. What does this mean? It means that wealth will be found in other means.  

Why do you think billionaires like Bill Gates and countries like China are investing in farmland? Because when the economy goes awry it will be about land ownership and control over infrastructure. This is where the real power lies.  

This is why someone like Kanye West can have a net worth of a billion dollars and still be subservient to others who hold the keys to infrastructure. Kyrie Irving is no different. Yes, he can dribble a basketball, but he’s also dependent on the larger infrastructure to translate that into something of value. 

There are tons of rappers rapping on a park bench more talented than Ye. In that same park, there’s someone dribbling a ball with the same talent as Kyrie. However, they don’t translate into wealth and power without a larger machine behind them.  

This is the lesson of Ye and Kyrie: you are still not free until you actually own the means of production. That’s it. You can accumulate dollars and assets, but minus the actual means to translate them into value, you are still subservient to others. 

We complain about “cancel culture” but those that have the ability to cancel do so because they own the means to do so. It’s really that simple. The rest of the world has to petition a third party, in most cases the government, to intervene on their behalf, something that leaves the third party more powerful.

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Che is a writer and host of “The No Spoon Podcast” on Scoon TV.

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