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Has the Woke Wave Peaked? Shock Poll Reveals Generation Z Rejects Cancel Culture

AMAC Exclusive By: Daniel Roman

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The hard realities of the real world often have a way of exposing foolish ideologies for what they are. Everyone has relearned this lesson over the past week, as America’s 20-year effort to transform the culture of Afghanistan has crumbled and the Taliban has retaken control. As that actual war for the future of a country concludes halfway around the world, many Americans may also be finding themselves disillusioned with the woke left’s not entirely incomparable crusade to transform American culture here at home. Recent polling shows that, for the youngest generation of Americans, the campaign to impose “wokeism” on the American people may already be running into nearly as much trouble as did the effort to impose liberalism on Afghanistan.

Morning Consult recently released a survey of cultural attitudes broken down by age. When it came to “Cancel Culture,” the breakdown was staggering. Overall, no one liked it. The only group for whom more respondents viewed it positively (19%) or neutrally (22%) than negatively (36%) was millennials. Predictably, more members of Gen X (1965-1980) and Boomers (1946-64) viewed it negatively (46% for Gen X, 50% for Boomers) than positively or neutrally (29% for Gen X, 27% for Boomers).

Culture wars are by their very nature a fight for the future, and have therefore historically been fought along generational lines. “Cancel Culture” is part of a broader left-wing reaction against the traditions of the Enlightenment, which have been under sustained assault by a mostly millennial generation (born 1982-1995). Many in this generation believe that words are weapons, and that “problematic” speech should be “canceled” along with those who utter it. These ideas have infected corporate HR departments, the media, and even schools. Yet perhaps surprisingly, the millennial effort to transform America seems to be hitting a wall not only with their generational seniors, but with their younger brothers and sisters as well.

The real shock is the Morning Consult poll came from those born between 1997 and 2008. Only 8% viewed Cancel Culture favorably, while 55% had a negative view. That was higher than for Gen X or Boomers.

How is it that those aged 13-23 have a much more negative view of “cancel culture” than older generations? The answer may be that familiarity breeds contempt. While older Americans are exposed merely to the concept of “Cancel Culture” in the abstract, Generation Z is exposed to it every day. Their heroes and idols are regularly torn down, often by what seem to be depressed and resentful 20 and early 30-somethings who lecture younger Americans about how they are bad people for liking what they like.

An interesting example may lie in the experience of the unlikely conservative icon of Scott Cawthorn, the creator of the videogame series Five Nights At Freddy’s. Cawthorn might initially seem like an odd figure to represent conservatism in pop culture. His videogame series is about a fast-food restaurant where animal robot mascots go on murderous rampages at night, and the player, as a security guard, must avoid being killed in gruesome manners. On paper, it is exactly the sort of violent videogame that parents in the early 1990s would have sought to “cancel,” lest it corrupt their kids. And today it has established an enormous fanbase among teenagers, including, for some reason, gay and lesbian teens.

When it was revealed that Cawthon had donated extensively to both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump, however, he came under sustained attack online from publications accusing him of “betraying” his “LGBT” fanbase. But something interesting happened. While most media publications, generally staffed by millennials, rushed to condemn him, on social media, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok, Gen-Z users rallied to his defense. So after initially condemning Cawthon, many of the millennial journalists quickly shifted to expressing horror that teenagers could possibly defend Cawthon on Twitter and in public, attacking them instead.

The progression from attacking an adult videogame developer for donating to Republicans, an extreme and nutty position, to one of attacking random 15- and 16-year-olds on Twitter for not joining in on “cancel culture,” an even more absurd stance, illustrates the way in which the heavy hand of “cancel culture” is felt by Generation Z, and probably also explains why only 8% of them report a positive view of it. If the same people who argue that the words “there are two genders” amount to violence against others also think it is alright to attack teenagers on Twitter or YouTube for insufficient fealty to far-left orthodoxy, it becomes obvious why they would associate the entire concept, and generation, with hypocrisy.

More stunningly, attitudes toward Cancel Culture get worse the younger members of Gen Z are. Whereas 13% of those 21-24 have a positive view compared to 48% who view it negatively, those numbers fall to 7%-57% among those 17-20, and 6%-59% among those 13-16.

This is not to say Generation Z is “conservative” per se. The same Morning Consult Poll found they were the only group with a more negative view of Capitalism (31%), than positive (22%), a major contrast from even millennials (34% positive/26% negative), much less Generation X (40% positive, 23% negative) or Boomers (54% positive, 19% negative). And while Critical Race Theory is largely unknown, with 41% of Generation Z having no opinion on it, more view it positively (22%), or neutrally (20%), than negatively (19%).

This too may be a generational reaction, and one many AMAC Newsline readers will be familiar with. Young people tend to rebel against their parents, and the very association of discussion of “Critical Race Theory” with much older individuals, combined with a lack of familiarity with what it actually means, may contribute to this result.

Cancel Culture, however, is a different matter. Generation Z is directly exposed to it, and few of their parents are millennials. For them, this is a reaction against something they experience. It may even be driving their opposition to capitalism (so too may be their youth, most of them not having entered the workplace). Right now, if their exposure to corporate influence is through corporations’ efforts to enforce wokeism through “cancellation,” then they could seriously ask themselves what “capitalism” does for them if it seems to exist to attack people and products for being insufficiently woke.

Generation Z is far from won for conservatism. In fact, if conservatives cannot break the linkage in the minds of teenagers between Cancel Culture and capitalism, then they may face a threat from a much more dangerous future variety of Marxist who can and will exploit that by offering an anti-woke, more culturally traditional communism. But there is clearly opportunity here for conservatives—and thankfully, when it comes to Cancel Culture, it appears that the kids are alright.

Daniel Roman is the pen name of a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

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Dave
1 month ago

Well time to double-down on 1619 and CRT. Uncle Saul sez “Push the lie harder until it breaks through”.

Stephen Lykins
1 month ago

The only thing that truly needs cancelled is cancel culture!

Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Stephen Lykins

No school shut-downs, no mask or shot mandates. Never before have so many given up so much to change so little. Fight for other people’s kids if yours are grown. Raise a little facts-based hell at your local School Board meeting if you dislike what you see them doing. FDA Pfizer Approval is meaningless re Civil Rights in the light of previous approvals of Statin/Alzheimer’s and Prilosec/Stomach cancer, etc, etc. And still get a shot if you’re old or weak. And I guess maybe the booster if you got the first round. Most kids have no need.

This is the best feedback that the Dems at the top can get to cease and desist.

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Bedingabird
1 month ago

About time. This “fad” has carried on long enough. No more!!!

David Spade
1 month ago

Cancel culture, “wokeism”, CRT are all failed ideas of the leftists. They demanded that the lame stream propaganda media promote this on behalf of the Marxist Democrats wandering “free” around this country. I submit that the people who made money off of these brainless concepts are Marxist college professors who have tenure and are unlikely to be fired by their respective universities. It is really a cesspool of people who cannot think, behave or reason on their own, so they latch on to idiotic concepts to hurt and “cancel” others to their own delight. I would say that the conservatives and reasonable people will figuratively turn up the heat on these naysayers to counteract these stupid ideas to the point where the leftists snowflakes will ultimately return to their safe places.

Allan Brem
1 month ago

Stupid knows no bounds.

Constant de Calonne
1 month ago

It is about time that people who ACTUALLY READ, and are informed REJECT CANCEL CULTURE AND WOKISM” I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE EVERY PERSON TO READ AND EXPLORE THE TRUE FACTS HOWEVER. THAT IS BECOMING MORE DIFFICULT TO DO AS SOME SCHOOLS ARE LOWERING STANDARDS FOR TEACHING READING .AND PERFORMANCE WHICH WILL BREED MORE IGNORANCE AND INABILITY TO FACILITATE CRITICAL THINKING FOR SELF

Bowser
1 month ago

Hear, here! Yes, reading is always the key; from Shakespeare to Albert Camus to Nietzsche and on to James Fenimore Cooper and James Jones. Read everything you can on what you enjoy and suddenly you’ll find intersections and ideas you never considered. And your thirst for knowledge will be ignited. Soon, people will turn to you because of the depth of your interest. Knowledge is power.

Robert
1 month ago

Send your kids to something other than a public school. That is where a majority of the problems of U.S. society are cultivated and grow like a cancer.

Bowser
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

I am 71 years old and the public schools I attended in upstate NY provided me with superb tools, all explained by dedicated teachers without a hint, in retrospect, of political, moral and religious bias. All rendered despite the fact that I was a football player and a wrestler, who lettered in both sports and received college scholarships in the two, and I was in a fraternity. Today, the teacher’s unions have stated that they are hellbent on teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) regardless of the fallout, which seems to be growing by the month. Parents, in ever greater numbers, are decrying the teaching of CRT, “…a pernicious ideology designed to demolish what made America great – free speech, free thought, and freedom of action.  It is an artificial construct intended to stigmatize and disgrace. It is categorical prejudice masquerading as anti-prejudice. Proponents of critical race theory pretend to be fighting racism by substituting an equally insidious form of racism. Their goal is to divide society by elevating identity politics into a full-blown culture war.” — Greg Jarrett

What exactly is CRT and where did it come from? Its genesis can be found in boilerplate Marxist orthodoxy. The most extreme version of critical race theory posits that all individuals are either oppressed or oppressors based exclusively on the color of their skin, with whites possessing an inherently and irredeemably bigoted nature, and CRT denounces all whites as racial oppressors.

In the immortal words of el Presidente de la vida Tio Pepe Biden, “Come on, man!”

Robin Walter Boyd
1 month ago

Cancel culture, social warriors etc. are all Socialist ideologies based on social engineering. The fact is that human beings cannot be socially engineered as a mass. We are individuals and we like being individuals. Those who don’t like being individuals join up with others who don’t like being individuals, but they are always going to differentiate from one group to another as well. The only benefit to social engineering is to those who are in control of the masses who are being manipulated.

QuanChi
1 month ago

The problem with this analysis is that “cancel culture” is inherently a negative concept but also ill-defined. Those who would be accused of promoting “cancel culture” would likely deny that what they are doing is “cancel culture”. Indeed why is current day social condemnation “cancel culture” but historic attempts to ban video games, rock stars, homosexuality not “cancel culture”? When has there ever been a time when some group or another hasn’t been trying to cancel something they don’t like?

Again the fact “cancel culture” is a negative term is probably why Gen Z rate it negatively. Compare to capitalism where they rate it more negatively than millennials. Because, although it might be strange to older generations, capitalism is routinely used in a negative context. But it takes age, experience and nuance to realize that what is often portrayed negatively might actually have positive attributes and whereas Gen Z have mostly yet to develop financial independence, millennials have and hence views of capitalism are more nuanced. Similarly, life experience is also why millennials rate “cancel culture” more positively, because having been raised in an era of trying to ban video games and rock stars they can see the rank hypocrisy of criticizing their attempts to “cancel” racists, sexual offenders et al.

The attitudes of Gen Z will change as they grow older like all generations before them. But it is a mistake to extrapolate from ill-defined statistics like these and think that Gen Z is significantly different to millennials. Younger generational attitudes towards racism, homophobia, sexual assault etc. are less tolerant than older generations. That isn’t likely to change.

Of course none of this detracts from fair criticism that “cancel culture” goes too far and any differences in opinions can become grounds for social excommunication. But that point can stand on its own merits. If you are pinning your hopes on Gen Z bringing back attitudes of the past, I think you will be disappointed.

David Wayne Greenlee
1 month ago

I think the younger 13 to 23 are the libertarian generation. I work with this age group daily and (anecdotal mind you) but they are far more responsible then they are given credit for by the baby boomers. I had one lad tell me his 40 something parents are still paying off their college debt. He was aghast at the amount of debt for “useless” degrees. Crony capitalism comes to mind that colors the word capitalism with the tracking of every click of a key. I am a HUGE believer in young people correcting us old knuckleheads. I was born in 1961. Argh.

aluminum head
1 month ago

You heard it here first – woke is a joke.
Now light up a ‘smoke ?’

STEPHEN GREENWELL
1 month ago

It is easy enough to understand why Gen. Z has such a negative view of capitalism when the only “capitalists” they see are the “woke”, socialized “capitalists”. If Ayn Rand’s CAPITALISM, THE UNKNOWN IDEAL is ever republished, it should be re-marked as FREE ENTERPRISE, THE UNKNOWN IDEAL.

QuanChi
1 month ago

I used to have a positive view of this book, and I’m pretty sure I still have it lying around somewhere. But age and experience has revealed how utterly simplistic Rand was in her view of the world. Gen Z isn’t going to embrace a philosophy of selfishness. Gen Z’s view of capitalism isn’t based on some manufactured narrative of “work capitalists”, it is based on the fact that capitalism is routinely a concept contrasted against poverty, inequality, and environmental destruction.

aluminum head
1 month ago

When my son was “little” I made sure he got a good PRIVATE school education. I never ‘influenced’ his thoughts politically. I did set an example though. He is a 45 y/o Conservative Constitutionalist like his ‘old man.’ The “universities” are the problem. The hallowed halls of ‘learning’ are infected and infested with marxists. They do not tell the kids HOW to think The swine teach them WHAT to think. And you fools send these young, fresh, minds to 4 years of communist teachings. Can’t even trust Notre Dame since they invited Obama ( the devil incarnate ) to SPEAK there.

Kenneth D.
1 month ago

Why does the idiot media think they have to categorize everything? Common sense and stupid gullibility do not run by generation; except perhaps in Journalism Schools…..

aluminum head
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenneth D.

You’ve got that right ! ! !

oldbat
1 month ago
Reply to  Kenneth D.

you can’t divide unless you categorize.

Timothy Dowd
1 month ago

the only folks that truck with cancel culture are those that do the cancelling.

Luke
1 month ago

Sample sizes are never large enough and confidence intervals are never mentioned. The statistics here are simply media-driven opinions. Nothing more. Assuming the numbers are even remotely indicative of how various cohorts respond or think, the answers to survey questions are media-driven or driven by social media thereby creating a serious credibility gap from the gitgo. That said, millennials will be running the country someday and if you’ve ever worked for or with them, you’ll understand that they care absolutely nothing for anything that came before them. That would seem to indicate that, as a group, they are condemned to repeat the worst of history’s tragic mistakes.

snoocks2
1 month ago

I got a chuckle out of the question re Gen Z’s attitude toward Capitalism as being more negative than not: Reason? They don’t pay the bills, they don’t have substantial jobs to protect, and they don’t have growing families or estates to protect from the big bad world around them. They are insulated by all of those represented above.

aluminum head
1 month ago
Reply to  snoocks2

EXACTLY ! ! !

Adonis
1 month ago

Marxist left will soon come up with another gimmick to divide the nation.

Bowser
1 month ago
Reply to  Adonis

The Marxist left is alive, well and thriving in the US media, the Democrat Party, in AOC’s mind, in Pelosi’s district, and in The People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

J. Farley
1 month ago

The baby boomer class has seen , both the good times in America, and the bad, we have seen when the economy was strong and we have seen America when there was a real racial problem in the early 1960s until the Republicans passed the 1964 equal rights law. We knew what real leadership is, leaders like Presidents Truman, Eisenhower. Kennedy, Reagan, Trump and we have seen what a bad President looks like. Presidents, Carter, Bush 1, Clinton, Obama, and the current weasel Joe Biden. We have seen good economic times under most Republicans and bad economic times under most Democrats. We knew what real freedoms looks like and your word was your bond. We lived when family’s were a unit with a mother and a father and children were taught respect and moral values. We were taught to earn your way in life that only in extreme cases did you rely on the Government for your daily bread. We were taught that there was a supreme power and that there was a judgement day. We were taught the three most important things in life were God, Family, and Country, and you cherished each one equally. That’s why we have not joined the weasel class and turned our backs on America and our fellow .Citizens

aluminum head
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Farley

If you are call Truman and Eisenhower good leadership then you had best do some history HOMEWORK, kid.

Johnny
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Farley

Those “Republicans” who passed the Civil Rights Act were in no way the far-right conservatives who dominate the modern GOP. To claim otherwise is tantamount to modern day Republicans claiming “It was Republicans who fought against slavery!”. Yes, they were Republicans, when Republicans weren’t the conservatives.

Today’s conservatives would never vote for such a thing.

Chuck
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Farley

Somebody with sense! How refreshing!!!!

Don Pierce
1 month ago
Reply to  J. Farley

This is very true and somehow we have dropped the ball and let sin of all types enter into our country. God forgive us and help us make amends.

‘Nonymous
1 month ago

Due to a major negligence in their education, generation Z thinks every idea or whim that pops into their tiny little pee sized brains, is a new and miraculous idea. Unfortunately where sociality and government exist, there is nothing new. It’s all been tried and much of it has failed, if not to the destruction of the governments, then to the populace living in them. They think they can improve what has been a benchmark for free people style of rule, by recycling used and tragic forms of tyrannical rule to overcome minor inadequacies that have developed due to controlling leadership that they now want to promote. Generation needs a long overdue paddling to make them right with the world!

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