New York Times: It’s Time To Cancel Classic Rock

Columnist argues Don McLean, Rolling Stones should be assigned to ash heap of history

November 3, 2021

A New York Times contributing opinion writer wants to cancel classic rock songs just as activists have canceled Confederate statues.

"I want to live in a world where I can be moved by art and music and literature without having to come up with elaborate apologies for that work or for its creators," Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender activist and author, wrote on Wednesday. Boylan urged listeners to scrap iconic artists and songs, including Don McLean's "American Pie" and the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar," if the artists have personal flaws or their lyrics are not sufficiently "inclusive" or "just."

Boylan's puritanical approach to popular culture comes as transgender people and activists have agitated for cancelling the comedian Dave Chappelle. In his recent standup special on Netflix, The Closer, Chappelle likened transgenderism to wearing blackface and said "gender is a fact."

Boylan said in the column that removing a work from an artist's repertoire might not go far enough. In response to Keith Richards's confusion about the Stones' recent decision to cut "Brown Sugar," a song about slavery, from future performances, Boylan said: "If the Stones don’t know why the song has to go, does simply removing it from their tour sheet go far enough?"