Trying to capture the high points of a conversation with such a good storyteller proved a challenge for me, but being that Pat is a friend of mine, I informed him writing this article would take a while and that I had no qualms about taking him a little for granted. "Big egos are for singers and guitarist." said Pat. He's just joking, of course.
Pat Leary plays bass and writes songs for SolarEyes, a sludgy Doom metal / psychedelic Rock band from Mar Vista, California. Their influences include stuff like Voivod, Black Sabbath, and Hawkwind ( thank you Pat, for more information than I ever planned on learning about Hawkwind). Here are some of his opinions regarding cancel culture.
Pat: Cancel Culture doesn’t exist. It’s just another right-wing fairy tale.
Me: I can’t agree with you there. I don’t think it works the way many suppose it does but, boycotting is a thing. Public shaming is a thing. Thing is, it comes from inside a community, not outside it. Right-wing people who may or may not have had an issue with Harry Potter didn’t cancel J.K. Rolling, her queer-positive millennial fan base did. People who listen to country music canceled the Dixie Chicks, not people who weren’t their fans before the cancellation. If conservative religious people were offended by Lil Nas X they couldn’t cancel him. How would he even know if they did? It wouldn’t hurt his revenue. It wouldn’t affect his life at all.
Pat: It’s mainly about money. No one pressured the owners of Dr.Suess' books or the company that makes Aunt Jemima to change anything. They might be doing it to make a positive impact but they are interested in continuing to make money.
Me: Yeah. I agree. There is a lot of over-reaction lately. You can watch all the Pervy La Skunk you want. He isn’t being canceled. He just won’t be in the new Space Jams movie. The potato doll isn’t getting a trans makeover. It’s exactly the same doll as before but people seem really angry about it. Mattel just took the word Mister off the packaging. Why are people screaming “CANCEL CULTURE!” over these things?
Pat: I looked at the six Dr. Seuss books they are dropping. There were two that I read as a kid. If I Ran the Zoo and McElligot's Pool. I watched both books on YouTube. Didn't see anything racist on McElligot but the zoo had a real shocker.
Me: Tell me what you mean.
Pat: If I Ran the Zoo shows goofy-looking Chinese people and mentions slanted eyes in the poetry. Very hard ridicule.
Me: I don’t understand how removing it would take anything away from people.
Pat: If the books were big sellers I doubt they would. They could just redraw and rewrite those parts. I didn’t remember the books and had to check. In Jr. high they had us read Tom Sawyer. A new version without the N word. Nobody cried about cancel culture. Having kids read it could encourage them to use the word. I don't really remember the story. We didn't like it.
Me: It’s definitely a book for older kids and even then, it ought to be handled carefully. But there’s a context to the word and a contrast between the kind of person Jim is and how he is treated.
Pat: My parents had us watch Roots very young. It gave us empathy. I think everyone should see it. Young or old. The assholes in the south say it's propaganda the slaves had a good life. That shit needs to stop.
Me: No trace of that philosophy should remain, in my opinion. Thanks so much for hanging out with me, Dude. It was fun.
You can find SolarEyes self-titled album here: