Stephen King on ‘cancel culture’: ‘You’re going to be held accountable for what you say’

Stephen King rushes into his appearance on 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

Is Stephen King still cancelled or nah? I only had a vague memory of it because 2020 was so chaotic. King started 2020 by getting in trouble on Twitter when he decided to do some bad tweets about diversity in Hollywood. Months later, he was back on the internet’s good side when he tweeted that trans women are women and JK Rowling blocked him out of transphobic spite. King is currently promoting the AppleTV+ adaptation of Lisey’s Story, which he scripted himself. The series stars Julianne Moore and Clive Owen (HOT), and he chatted with the Daily Beast about cancel culture, JK Rowling and a lot more – you can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

How he writes & how he’s so prolific: “I work every day for about three or four hours. I will go out and walk the dog, try to clear my head and get into a good place, and then I’ll work from, say, eight o’clock till eleven-thirty, or eight o’clock till noon—it depends how it goes that day. I think that if you have a regular schedule like that, you almost fall into a trance automatically. It’s like post-hypnotic suggestion, where you’re ready to work at that time. If I have to work at other times of the day I do, but I don’t love it! So, it’s not a 40-hour week. It’s a 28-hour week, but I still feel like a working guy.

How he felt during Election Week: “It was a terrible two or three days where nobody really knew what was going to happen, and I felt that if Trump got re-elected, I would have to take the gas pipe—not literally, but it was a scary time.

On cancel culture: “Yes, well, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity and all those people rail against “cancel culture” but they won’t say anything about the Republicans canceling Liz Cheney because she insisted that Trump was lying about all these things—which of course he was. Trump can’t deal with the idea of being a loser, and he started this thing that it would be a “stolen election,” the Big Lie, beforehand to hedge his bets. If he won, all was good; if not, it was a no-lose situation because he could always say that the thing was stolen from him, and his people would believe him. Along comes Liz Cheney and says, “That’s nothing but a f–king lie. He lost the g-ddamn election and you’re just making things worse.” So, the Republican House just turned around and canceled her—but they won’t talk about that. There’s a double standard there.

Why white dudes are mad about cancel culture: “As far as “cancel culture” itself goes, all that’s happening here—and I think a lot of conservatives hate it—is that the way they’re used to doing business no longer works as well as it used to. You’re going to be held accountable for what you say and what you do. That’s the American way, OK? There’s nothing odd about that, and there’s nothing radical about that. If you do the crime, you gotta do the time.

On JK Rowling blocking him on Twitter: “Jo canceled me. She sorta blocked me and all that. Here’s the thing: She is welcome to her opinion. That’s the way that the world works. If she thinks that trans women are dangerous, or that trans women are somehow not women, or whatever problem she has with it—the idea that someone “masquerading” as a woman is going to assault a “real” woman in the toilet—if she believes all those things, she has a right to her opinion. And then someone tweeted at me, “Do you think trans women are women?” and I said, “Yes, I do.” And that’s what she got angry about—my opinion. It’s like the old saying, “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” So, nobody has “canceled” J.K. Rowling. She’s doing fine. I just felt that her belief was, in my opinion, wrong. We have differing opinions, but that’s life.

He doesn’t get Rowling’s transphobia either: “But keep in mind too that Jo’s opinion on trans women is an outlier in her entire political spectrum. She was very much anti-Brexit and very much anti-Trump. She’s on the side of the angels in most respects, but she does have this one thing that she’s very vehement about. No doubt.

What film adaptations are better than the books? “Well, I think that Brian De Palma’s film of Carrie is better than the book. It’s a question I’d have to chew over… I guess I would have to say Godfather I and II are probably better than the books. The books are good—they’re very plainspoken books—and the films are probably more artistic. Silence of the Lambs is a great movie, but I think the book is pretty great too, so that’s probably a dead heat.

[From The Daily Beast]

Just FYI, if you get the chance to read Thomas Harris’s books, please do so – there is so much more creepy sh-t and nuance in Hannibal, Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, etc. The movies are good, some of them are even great! But the books are amazing. As for what King says about Rowling… I mean, I get it. He doesn’t want to bad-mouth a fellow author publicly, so he takes pains to describe her bizarre, obsessive transphobia as just one bad thing in an otherwise good person. But that whole passage irritated me – yes, it’s her “opinion” and she has a “right” to it. But she and her ilk have done real cultural damage to trans rights and trans visibility.

Stephen King has fun with photographers at GMA

Photos courtesy of Backgrid.

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20 Responses to “Stephen King on ‘cancel culture’: ‘You’re going to be held accountable for what you say’”

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  1. Nomegusta says:

    Joanne showed her ass and then got upset when people called her out.

    I was disappointed as someone who grew up with Harry Potter, but moreso angry for all of her trans fans.

  2. SusanRagain says:

    Re: Headline
    Yes, people should be held accountable for what they say and how they behave towards others!
    It used to be common manners, do not be rude.
    Not every jacka** thought you have needs to be vocalized.
    Practice keeping your mouth shut.

    People who make their living from being in the public eye/authors who do publicity tours, etc. Should be educated enough to know this.

  3. mew says:

    Accountable means obligated to explain, justify, and take responsibility for one’s actions.

    Cancel culture: sending death threats, shaming, hate mongering, blackmailing others to jump on cancel-wagon, spreading lies etc

    For some reason some people love thinking they’re the same.

    • Merricat says:

      Wait, who is being blackmailed to jump on what cancel-wagon?

      • MM2 says:

        When someone demands people with power under them not hire or badmouth people. For example- Johnny Depp tried to cancel Amber Heard in these ways & called studios to not hire her. Which….he should be held accountable for.

  4. Peanut says:

    I refuse to ever again read a book or watch a show/movie that glorifies violence against women.

  5. Lala11_7 says:

    Thomas Harris’ books are so good that they had me ENTRANCED with Hannibal Lecter…

    • SarahCS says:

      Same here, I read Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon multiple times when I was younger. I’ve lost interest in that sort of story in recent years but I still have my very well read copies. I found the writing totally engrossing.

  6. Ann says:

    Steven King has bad mouthed other authors publicly. He isn’t above that. He can also be quite bitchy when he wants to be. His attitude always reminded me of Billy Corgan, oddly enough. They can both be quite catty about others in their respective fields.

    I haven’t seen a reason to cancel King yet. He is still an insightful and productive creative. I appreciate his presence in culture and I would miss him if he were gone. I hope the twitter mishaps are the worst of it.

  7. Sigmund says:

    I mostly get and agree with what he’s saying, but I dislike his drilling down trans rights into a matter of “opinion”. Trans rights are human rights. Human rights are not simply a matter of differing views up for debate.

    • AlpineWitch says:

      “I dislike his drilling down trans rights into a matter of “opinion”.”

      But he doesn’t do that. Neither King or Rowling are politicians so they’re not literally promoting/diluting rights, they’re just offering their opinion on the matter. The only difference between us and them is that they’ve platforms and their opinion is widely shared by many on both side of the topic.

      I enormously despise Rowling but she isn’t in the British Parliament. You could argue she’s guilty of hate speech but whatever she thinks isn’t affecting UK’s policies (the populist government is, which is worse).

      • Iris says:

        Yes but when someone is that wealthy and has historically used their enormous reserves of money to lobby for issues they’re passionate about – like Scottish independence, etc – wouldn’t you be worried? They have enormous influence. Maybe more than politicians

      • observer says:

        underestimating the platform power/cultural following behind a celebrity and how people respond to that is how we got president trump need i remind you

        in this case, the main response is a bunch of LGBTQ+ harry potter fans getting their hogwarts house tattoos lasered off, BUT… that doesn’t change the fact of the platform spreading the message once someone like JK puts it out there. when JKR talks on the internet, she does not speak into a void.

        oh yeah and she posted the manifesto just a week or two after the george floyd protests – remember? – anyway she never tweeted a single thing in support of BLM either. at the exact time she was putting so much energy and effort into publishing an anti-trans diatribe, she could have been using her platform for a very significant and meaningul purpose. she didn’t.

    • Valerie says:

      The way I see it, he’s saying that she’s welcome to hold her opinion, wrong as it may be. Neither he nor anyone else is likely to change her mind; she’s firmly entrenched in her beliefs. It’s like, if I were fighting with a Republican, nothing I could say would get them to see my way and vice versa. We’d each go away thinking that the other is wrong, but there’s nothing we can really do about it except scream at each other all day.

      She can lobby for something all she wants, doesn’t mean she’ll get her way. In the end. wide influence or no, she’s just another private citizen with an irrational hate-on for a group of people.

    • EnormousCoat says:

      I agree. It goes beyond opinion when someone’s beliefs are not based in fact or even compassion and they pose a danger to others health and well-being. Throw in her visibility and platform and her opinion becomes a weapon. Opinions don’t deny the personhood of others.

      • Sigmund says:

        Exactly. This isn’t an issue of opinion. We don’t say “well, it’s an issue of opinion about whether or not nonwhite folks are people”. And it’s not an issue of opinion about whether or not trans women are women, either.

        King seems like a smart and compassionate guy, I’m just saying he needs to take a hard look at his word choice here and reevaluate.

  8. Krista says:

    Everything he said gets a huge thumbs up from me.
    Also why would I cancel him. One wrong thing doesn’t mean you cancel someone unless it’s truly heinous. A different opinion or view is not… which happens way to often. His example with Rowling is a perfect example of that. People can have different views/beliefs/opinions but too often people who disagree with those opinions want to shut the other person opinions/view down. Rowling blocking him after he had a differing opinion.
    I think people make a lot of assumptions of people based on one view point- and that’s kinda what King is saying. She has one view that is different but otherwise can be a good person.
    Example I have a friend who is against Pride events/flags ect in schools. She is a staunch believer ever though my brother is gay and she has other LGBT people in her life. But she has always been super helpful and kind and supportive of my brother and other in her life, volunteers at shelters, would give the shirt off her back. I don’t understand and we’ve all had healthy debates re Pride and rights but she is firm in her beliefs. We’ve even pointed out it’s homophobic and still she won’t change her mind. Now she doesn’t have the reach Rowling does but I don’t completely cut her from our lives because I think it just wouldn’t do any good for anyone.

  9. TeeMajor says:

    I agree with everything he said. I like him and his writing, he is an old head writer. I have some of his books on audible, where he reads and I love it.

  10. godivalady says:

    it’s not an opinion when it’s hate speech