By Emma Raho – Staff Writer
Way back in the good old days of low res mirror selfies and “wht r u up 2 2nite??” wall posts, the idea behind “cancel culture” was to call out problematic influencers and content creators and make them accountable for their shitty takes and poor decisions. Ultimately reducing the spread of harm and hurt by showing this kind of behaviour would not be tolerated and they needed to do better. It was an unofficial internet regulator, and for a while, it worked.
A noble concept, what could possibly go wrong?
The answer is everything. It is entirely grimly predictable that the whole movement has gone way too far and has turned into a toxic witch hunt for people who absolutely don’t deserve to be cancelled, while those that do are freely poisoning spaces and not giving a single, solitary fuck.
Cancelling someone used to be backlash against a person or organisation for saying or doing something that caused harm and distress and was just straight up not ok. However it has now evolved into dirt digging deep into people’s pasts whilst figuratively foaming at the mouth, desperate for something, anything, to pin on someone. It’s become about “coming for someone” and “taking them down” rather than making any kind of positive change. At this point, sadly, it’s morphed into a form of bullying.
The glaringly obvious problem with dirt digging into the past is bringing up behaviour, views and opinions the person no longer holds. There is not a single person on the planet that hasn’t said something shitty, done something shitty or at least encouraged something shitty. The difference is whether or not we now realise it was in fact shitty.
The main issue with today’s cancel culture is it leaves no space for change and growth. What someone did in 2011 may very well bear absolutely no relevance to the beliefs they hold in 2020 which is why I’m so confused as to how dredging up the past is helpful.
We generally all understand that the internet is forever. One fuck up and it will haunt you for life, but it really shouldn’t be that way. Cancel culture does not promote a culture of patience, compassion, and validation of maturity. Not allowing people to grow from their mistakes is unfair, and unhelpful.
A really good example of just how toxic cancel culture has become is Jenna Marbles. Long time fans have essentially watched Jenna grow up over You Tube. Have some of her videos been a bit borderline in the past? I’d say yes. Ragging on Asian guys’ dicks and pretending to be Nicki Minaj were far from her finest moments, but this happened nine years ago and her content changed as she matured and learnt better. She didn’t specifically address these videos – let’s be honest any seasoned You Tuber can make an apology video – but her changed behaviour clearly proved she was no longer the sort of person that thought this was acceptable. So why after all this time were people calling her out for content she made almost a decade ago that she had already distanced herself from?
While racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia should always be called out within celebrity/influencer culture it needs to be done at the time because isn’t the actual point of calling someone out to help them change and do better, not to satisfy some weird blood lust of a baying mob?
In order to regain some kind of sense and direction it’s a good idea to ask the following questions before jumping on the “CANCELLED” band wagon –
- Am I giving the benefit of the doubt before I jump on their post
- Am I more committed to exposing/cancelling someone than taking the time to teach them why they are wrong?
- Do I give the same grace to others that I’d want/expect for myself when I make a mistake?
- Does the person I’m cancelling seem to have made an honest effort towards change?
- Am I expecting perfection from an imperfect human being or placing higher standards of conduct on them than I place on myself?
The way cancel culture is being used now is so far removed from its original purpose it is now causing more harm than it is preventing. Everyone is learning, the whole way through their lives. We need to cancel “cancel culture”.