Is cancel culture good?
- Britannica says cancel culture, “also known as callout culture, is the removal (“canceling”) of support for individuals and their work due to an opinion or action on their part deemed objectionable to the parties “calling” them out.”
- A Pew Research Center poll found that 49% of those surveyed and who were familiar with the term “cancel culture” described it as “actions people take to hold others accountable.”
- Speaking at a July 4th address at Mount Rushmore in 2020, President Trump said that cancel culture is “driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and to our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.”
- Sociologist Amanda Koontz equates cancel culture with public shaming, which was prevalent throughout history and differing cultures, “Public shaming is a long-standing public ritual that helped to uphold social bonds and make sure people within communities were equal and understood the norms, and to ensure no one got too high and mighty.”
Although 'cancel culture' always lies at the peak of enormous controversy, it aims to reform the means of justice for the victim by depriving the perpetrator of their comfortable cultural cachet. People have endured shame and discrimination for belonging to a particular community, race, gender, or economic status. Cancel culture has become a valid method of providing much-needed justice to those people.
Cancel culture is impactful, instantly removing someone's prestige that was used for inappropriate purposes. Most culture shaming is directed against the famous or affluent. When comedian Shane Gillis' video of him using homophobic and racial slurs emerged, he was fired from Saturday Night Live. News of Harvey Weinstein's abuse and assault of women caused his quick dismissal by the entertainment industry. Likewise, gender-critical feminist, Maya Forstater, tweeted her views on UK authorities moving forward with the Gender Recognition Certificate. Maya lost her job because of her tweets, and when J.K Rowling tweeted her support with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya, she was met with backlash, putting her book sales at risk.
Grievances like these against outlier groups by those with influence are addressed swiftly. This opportunity for instant boycotting is a powerful tool to use against offending groups. It's an attempt to protect the rights of everyone--whether it's men and women in the entertainment industry or the rights of those in the trans community. Cancel culture sets an example for ways to live appropriately while protecting diversity. It should always be administered as a means of correction and reform to promote unification and inclusivity.
In a world where the internet has enough power to fuel entire movements, there are bound to be some complications. With the internet's growing influence on people's lives, we've seen the emergence of canceling people--aka 'cancel culture.' Canceling someone entails completely ostracizing them because of a recent or past mistake. If someone does something that's considered to be problematic, they lose all legitimacy.
What gets lost in the process are the nuances of each situation. The entire meaning of canceling someone gets reduced to calling out the person more than calling out the action. It essentially removes the focus from the problem at hand. In the grand scheme of things, this behavior reduces the offending person to a label sometimes as problematic as the accusation.
It's important to remember that a problem doesn't get fixed by practically forcing people out of society without giving them a chance to redeem themselves. Simply put, canceling anyone doesn't magically fix anything. There is no conversation about improving oneself, nor the opportunity for the accused to amend what they have done when all cancelers care about is bringing someone down. And thus, power dynamics play a considerable role in canceling someone. Whoever is more vocal gets to decide who gets canceled or not.
So cancel culture is not a fair way to deal with individuals who have proven harmful to society. It leaves no room for any amends or redemption but only inculcates a sense of mob mentality where people blatantly cancel others just because everyone else is doing so.