By Jonathon Van Maren
If there is one thing that 2020 is teaching us, it is that there is no such thing as woke enough. Staying silent is violence. Speaking out is hogging the spotlight and denying that space to minority voices, which is also violence. In our new post-Christian religion—what has already been dubbed the “Great Awokening”—you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Even those desperately seeking to get on the right side of the new revolution almost always end up falling short. And when that happens, the inevitable struggle session and groveling attempts at re-education and rehabilitation follow.
This week’s example (although it’s early and there may be more) is actress Halle Berry, a stereotypical celebrity who believes all of the things that stereotypical celebrities believe. In fact, she remains the only woman of color every to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Despite these credentials, Berry made the unfortunate mistake of enthusing in a recent interview about how excited she was to pay the role of a transgender man. Which is to say, a biological female seeking to transform herself into a male. Because she is an actress and acting is make-believe, Berry thought she was paying homage to the trans movement by saying she would really enjoy the challenge of pretending to be someone she is not. Which, whatever you think about it, is her job.
Of course, she didn’t realize how wicked and offensive she was being, but trans activists promptly swarmed into mobs on social media to let her know. As is their wont, they were not particularly polite. Their critiques aren’t worth repeating, because they are boring. What was interesting, because it follows a pre-set pattern, was Berry’s inevitable apology on Twitter:
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to discuss my consideration of an upcoming role as a transgender man, and I’d like to apologize for those remarks. As a cisgender woman, I now understand that I should not have considered this role, and that the transgender community should undeniably have the opportunity to tell their own stories.
I am grateful for the guidance and critical conversation over the past few days and I will continue to listen, educate, and learn from this mistake. I vow to be an ally in using my voice to promote better representation on-screen, both in front of and behind the camera.
Notice a few things here about Berry’s mea culpa. First, she had to insert their lingo. She may have once been a woman, but now she is a cisgender woman. The success of the trans movement has transformed everything. A woman isn’t a woman anymore. There are now a bunch of different kinds. Some of them have penises, and those penises are girl penises because the women who have them aren’t cisgender. Got it?
Moving on in this interesting little cultural artifact, I note that Berry had to publicly announce that the reason she was apologizing is because she “now understands” that she was wrong, because she has been re-educated. But the Twitter mob and the vitriol and the insults she received for attempting and failing to be an “ally” were actually an “opportunity” that she is now “grateful” for. In today’s cultural struggle sessions, one must actually thank their attackers for the opportunity of being a target, and must be grateful for the opportunity to parrot their talking points. If not, of course, one might get cancelled.
Berry finishes this up by making a solemn “vow to be an ally,” and the high priests over at GLAAD graciously accepted her grovelling on Twitter, signalling her acceptance back into the fold. Berry, I’m sure, heaved an enormous sigh of relief. She’d gotten off pretty easy, all things considered. To ensure that her probation is short-lived, she will now probably rededicate herself to allyship with even more fervor. All will be well until the next landmine blows it all up unexpectedly, and the cycle repeats.
None of this is to insinuate that I care. The only amusing thing about this whole grotesque spectacle is that the very people who spent so much time mocking and sneering at those who disagree with them are now experiencing the panic of having accidentally committed those very heresies themselves. As far as I’m concerned, cancel culture can level Hollywood and professional sports and we’d all be better off. In the meantime, I suspect we’ll be treated to many more examples of panicky elitists sweatily thanking their new cultural overlords for the opportunity to be re-educated and to apologize.