Ah, cancel culture: The phrase that brings together the twin pleasures of alliteration, and your own failures somehow being someone else’s fault. That latter part is one of the takeaways from a new Katt Williams interview that’s circulating on the internet this week, after the veteran comic was asked about the topic on The Joe Budden Podcast, and spent the next few minutes carefully disassembling the entire concept.
In his response (which begins at 9:29 or so in the above video), Williams quickly points out the central logical fallacy of the whole “cancel culture” premise, i.e., that it’s really just a way of saying that you’re allowed to say whatever you like, and people are then allowed to not like those things that you said. He also notes that calls for more sensitive language have much of their roots in minority culture, since, historically, it’s generally been people of color who’ve been the ones getting slurs and insults hurled at them from people in positions of privilege and power. And, ultimately, Williams—after a concise and clear analysis of the various angles of the topic—brings it back to a simple question of whether the people complaining about this stuff understand the ways that restrictions and boundaries can help shape and supplement art. Or, to put it in his words: “If you want to offend somebody, nobody took those words away from you… Look, if these are the confines that keep you from doing the craft God put you to, then it probably ain’t for you.”
All of which carries some extra weight in light of the fact that this is, well, Katt Williams saying it, one of the most notoriously filthy and contentious comics of the last several decades. Between his stand-up sets, his love of calling-out rivals in interviews, and his extensive troubles with the police, Williams is not, for lack of a better word, a guy you would automatically assume to have put a lot of thought into minimizing harm with his work. But, as the man himself says: “Growth is part of being an adult.”