TV | May 11, 2021 12:23 pm

What Is Donald Glover Talking About When He Says “Getting Canceled”?

Was he referring to TV shows literally being canceled or talking about "cancel culture"?

Donald Glover
Donald Glover arrives at the 2019 LACMA Art + Film Gala Presented By Gucci on November 2, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Atlanta mastermind Donald Glover (who also raps under the Childish Gambino moniker) has stayed quiet on social media in recent years, but on Monday night he broke his silence with a rare series of tweets and voiced his opinions about creators being held back by fear of getting canceled.

“saw people on here havin a discussion about how tired they were of reviewing boring stuff (tv & film),” he wrote. “we’re getting boring stuff and not even experimental mistakes (?) because people are afraid of getting cancelled. so they feel like they can only experiment w/ aesthetic. (also because some of em know they’re not that good).”

But what exactly does Glover mean when he mentions being afraid of getting canceled? Plenty of publications (like, for example, the New York Post) assumed he was referring to “cancel culture” and ran with that.

But Glover doesn’t necessarily seem like the type of comedian who would rail against “wokeness” or “PC culture run amok” or whatever other made-up terms bad comics use to explain the negative reactions to their lazy jokes. Given that he kicked off his comments by specifying that he was talking about “TV & film,” it seems more likely that he was talking about “getting canceled” in the more literal sense, referring to when a network or streaming service pulls the plug on a show due to low ratings.

That would also explain his comment that “some of em know theyre not that good”: he’s referring to TV producers sticking with boring, formulaic series because they’re “safe.” They know they’re not good, but they know they’ll be picked up for another season. The best TV shows are the ones that aren’t afraid to take risks with big creative swings.

Still, it’s telling that many people were so quick to assume he was referring to “cancel culture.” Have we seriously reached a point where a TV star mentions “getting canceled” and we assume he’s referring to being deplatformed over controversial comments or behavior instead of literally getting canceled? It’s an honest mistake, I suppose; if it’s so ubiquitous that it’s being used as an excuse for doping a horse, at this point it’s bound to cause confusion.