THE NEUTRAL ZONE
The term “cancel culture” has been trending in the news lately, with a notable spike beginning this summer amid the rise in activism following George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis. “Cancel culture” is a term used to describe the public calling for a withdrawal of support for a celebrity, actor, musician, politician, or other public figure in the wake of an objectionable or offensive act or stance.
J.K. Rowling, Jimmy Kimmel, Dave Portnoy, and Jemele Hill have all come under fire for statements or acts deemed as insensitive. Networks have begun to remove old episodes of TV shows in an attempt to get ahead of any possible negative blowback, a move deemed by many activists as “reactionary performative allyship.”
The employment of “cancel culture” in the public sphere has been divisive, as some see the act of “canceling” a public figure after a misdeed as “out of control,” promoting a society akin to the Jacobin movement in France. Others believe cancel culture acts as an effective tool to hold people in positions of power accountable for racist, sexist, or homophobic acts. Others still say that cancel culture does not exist at all, arguing that previous attempts to hold powerful people accountable for their actions have been unsuccessful.
The uptick in the cancel culture conversation follows a wave of police brutality and racism protests that led to a call for the removal of any and all confederate statues, many of which were erected during Jim Crowe. The call later expanded to the removal of statues of all former slaveowners. However, many statues that did not depict slaveowners were also destroyed or defaced amid the removal of confederate imagery, including Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer and former slave, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
‘CANCEL CULTURE’ GOOGLE SEARCH TRENDS
“Cancel Culture” as a trending topic from 2/6/20- 7/6/20- Interest Over Time/ Interest by Region/ Interest by Related Topics & Queries / Data: Google Trends
Silicon Valley Elite Discuss Journalists Having Too Much Power in Private App – Vice – 7/2/20 The call shows how Silicon Valley millionaires, who have been coddled by the press and lauded as innovators and disruptors, fundamentally misunderstand the role of journalism the moment it turns a critical eye to their industry. It also suggests they’re eager to find new ways to hit back at what they see as unfavorable and unfair press coverage.
CancelHamilton appears on Twitter days after musical’s Disney+ debut – Mail Online – 7/5/20 Ajamu Baraka an international human rights activist, organizer, political analyst wrote: ‘The play & now movie Hamilton is racist buffoonery & revisionist history meant to make liberal white folks feel good about their collaboration with the colonial project know as the U.S. & its racist imperialist project abroad. Miranda should concentrate on feeing (sic) Puerto Rico.’ The true story behind the show has seen the hashtag ‘CancelHamilton’ grow on Twitter.
In a cancel culture, you can’t trust Amazon, Google, and Apple with your libraries. Buy physical media – Washington Examiner – 7/6/20 It’s not far-fetched to imagine “your” digital content disappearing. Apple could just decide to erase that Poguessong for a bad word. Poof! Gone. Amazon could remove Mel Gibson works that you thought you owned. Certainly, any and all Charles Murray books could be canceled. Facebook is under immense pressure to take down content just because it’s too Trumpy. Twitter says it will pull down your tweets if you violate their ideological rules. The disappearance of your digital media is something commentators have long warned about. You don’t really own your digital books. What’s to stop them from canceling problematic chapters or works or entire authors?
Time for cancel culture to ditch the Kennedys – Boston Herald – 7/6/20 Let’s start with President Kennedy. Just for starters, he believed in tax cuts (“a rising tide lifts all boats”). He was a Cold Warrior (“the long twilight struggle”). He wasn’t into welfare and reparations (“Ask not what your country can do for you … .”). He palled around with Sen. Joe McCarthy. When Nixon ran for the Senate in 1950, JFK gave him a grand in cash. His best friend in Congress was George Smathers, an arch-segregationist from Florida. JFK didn’t hate Jews the way his father and his brother Bobby did, but wasn’t real down for the civil rights struggle. He wouldn’t let Sammy Davis Jr. perform at his inauguration.
Children’s author sacked for supporting JK Rowling in transgender row – Mail Online – 7/4/20 Within 24 hours, James Noble, managing editor of Working Partners, replied to the barrage of complaints saying: ‘The worlds created by Erin Hunter are meant to be inclusive for all readers and we want to let you know that Gillian Philip will no longer be writing any Erin Hunter novels.’ The decision was last night condemned by Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, who said: ‘Every day, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed and their names dragged through the mud because they’ve said something others disagree with. ‘Anyone who challenges the view of these activists is immediately targeted for cancellation.
BADMON on Twitter, 7/5/20: Cancel culture is dumb. You guys are basically normalizing that people can’t make mistakes when the fact is, nobody is perfect.
Yascha Mounk on Twitter, 7/5/20: Cancel culture does not exist. Everyone who is canceled has done terrible things. Cancel culture does not exist. Everyone who is canceled has done terrible things. Cancel culture does not exist. Everyone who is canceled has done terrible things. Cancel culture does not e…
Matt Haig on Twitter, 7/6/20: I actually think cancel culture works against accountability. Because it makes people defensive and closed rather than open and vulnerable enough to grow.
Siddhartha Mahanta on Twitter, 7/6/20: Broadly speaking, many of those obsessed with ‘cancel culture’ are often not obsessed with matters of political economy or corporate power. They show no curiosity for such things, which makes their preachy work irrelevant to the widely shared human desire to survive & thrive.