On Cancellation & Mandated Enlightenment


That person who has been determined to be irredeemable, and you’d like us to announce our public repudiation of them? We’re not gonna do that.

That organization, which did that thing that everyone is up in arms about, and now the mob is demanding that it be boycotted? We’re not gonna do that, either.

The sentence you want us to say officially, the proclamation, the slogan, whatever it is you insist will “prove” we’re on the enlightened side of some incendiary social issue or historical grievance? Nope.

The policy you’d like us to implement to solve a problem we don’t believe actually exists in our organization? Your racial quotas? Your lists of approved and disapproved “identities”? Nope, nope, nope.

Is there someone here whose political viewpoints are in opposition to your own? Welcome to America. Deal with it.

In summer 2020, the BHP had its own ‘cancellation’ moment because it was determined by a small number of people that we were insufficiently vocal about the events of that summer. You know what happened? The BHP didn’t change. The people who run the BHP didn’t change. The people who work for the BHP didn’t change. The students who continued to study at the BHP despite all the noise — they didn’t change. The students who were angry at the BHP didn’t change. Nothing changed. No one moved an inch. The only concrete, measurable, experiential result of all that unpleasantness? Dozens of personal relationships were wrecked. People who had gotten along for years, had no big problems, who had collaborated on any number of plays and films over time, who voted differently yet still had been friends (gasp!) — they were now at each other’s throats, canceling, boycotting, puking their resentments up in public and on social media, forcing others into impossible conflicts of loyalty, and it all ended up with with zero change, except for the end of those relationships. Well played, everyone!

This shit has to end. If you have a problem with someone or some organization and it leads you to want to deny them your support, that is absolutely your right. And your business. If we make similar determinations, it is our right. And our business. But this nauseating compulsion to publicly announce these decisions, and to demand other people and organizations make the same decisions you make, to look at the world the way you look at the world, to be outraged about injustice the way you’re outraged about injustice — it’s bullshit. It’s narcissism. It’s nothing more than the cult of virtue signaling. And it’s tearing us all apart.

The BHP will not contribute to this madness. So cancel away if you must. Boycott if you think it might change the world. Go on, make your lists. We’ll still be here, continuing to teach actors, directors and storytellers who are serious about that pursuit. We’re open to all races, creeds, religions, orientations, and political affiliations. We abhor censorship, and we loath ‘cancel culture.’ If you’re as sick of it all as we are, we look forward to seeing you in class, and talking about acting. ― By Allen Barton