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Rant #002

July 15, 2021  Patrick Heller / Janet McCue

Rant #002  Today is going to be a RANT! This is RANT #002. Our hosts take a jab at Cancel Culture in todays Rant. So what exactly is Cancel Culture? Cancel culture or call-out culture is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person.

Americans and ‘Cancel Culture’: Where Some See Calls for Accountability, Others See Censorship, Punishment

Here are 10 Facts About Cancel Culture, a Term That Boomers Don’t Understand

1. Definition - According to Yahoo News, “cancel culture” entails a driven effort to retract support for the said figure or business which has said or done something objectionable, until they apologise or ‘go underground’ – which is to say disappear from sight.

This is usually more common for celebrities and influencers since their disappearance would be more pronounced as they’d stop producing content altogether. However, it can be subtle as well, like a person getting fired from his job.

Meanwhile, local celebrity influencer Xiaxue defines it as “when a mob forms to punish transgressors when they are perceived to have committed some kind of unacceptable social behavior”.

2. Not To Be Confused With Boycotting - In a video posted by Xiaxue, the OG blogger does not consider boycotting to be the same as cancel culture.

The former, she states, is the passive act of avoiding certain celebrities or brands one personally disagrees with. It’s just you boycotting and that’s it.

Cancel culture, on the other hand, involves a choice group of people who are “actively obsessed with causing harm,” and one won’t be happy with not using that brand or simply unfollowing it; they want the brand to die off completely.

3. Caught In The Wave - To date, numerous celebrities have been entrapped in the recently-rampant cancel culture. JK Rowling, for instance, was called out for comments perceived to be insulting to transgender people, while singer Lana Del Rey has been criticised for an Instagram post which contrasted her with black artists.

Mere weeks ago, Xiaxue found herself the victim of petitions which sought to “punish Xiaxue for seditious content”. 

4. Controversial - While cancel culture has been appraised by some as giving a voice to all the “silent” people out there, it has also been slammed by others for restricting free speech.

Needless to say, you won’t feel the pain until you’re being “cancelled”.

5. Origin - According to Yahoo News, “Cancel culture” was first coined by Black Twitter users, and dates back to the year 2015 when it was used as a means of calling out friends or acquaintances.

In 2017, it became mainstream as part of the #MeToo movement, when a multitude of Hollywood A-listers faced criticism over allegations of sexual harassment and abuse, and some of them were “cancelled”. A good example? House Of Cards.

Kevin Spacey was cancelled from the last season, and mind you he’s the face of the show. And he was cancelled because he was cancelled after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct.

Gradually becoming a mainstay, it has since infiltrated everyday life, and is affecting discriminatory behaviour displayed on a daily basis.

6. The Former U.S. President Trump has also been alleged to fuel “cancel culture”, by commencing hostilities with individuals and groups he wished to discredit.

One instance is the Black Lives Matter movement, of which Trump has been publicly critical of.

He also called it a “symbol of hate”.

“Trump’s intolerance and bigotry has inspired similar behavior from his followers on the right, and that has in turn provoked a counter-reaction from progressives,” said Richard Ford, a law professor at California’s Stanford University.

“There’s increasingly a sort of ‘us versus them’ attitude where it’s seen as justified and even necessary to be just as dogmatic and unyielding as one’s ideological enemies.”

7. Not Just Public Figures And Brands - In the fifth point, I wrote that “cancel culture” has invaded everyday life, and is affecting discriminatory behavior displayed on a daily basis.

But to what extent, exactly? Well, here’s a rough outlook.

TV shows in the United States have been pulled off the air because of onscreen portrayals of police. Writers have also lost their jobs or resigned at noteworthy publications over their controversial views.

Meanwhile, non-celebrities are also getting implicated. A Boeing executive, for instance, resigned over a 33-year-old article asserting that woman should not participate in combat.

Which is why Xiaxue has said that cancelling someone isn’t helpful because there would be collateral damage; she cited the example of Mulan actress Liu Yifei, whereby people cancel her due to an image she reshared online.

However, people came out with the hashtag #BoycottMulan instead, encouraging people to boycott the film. The film is obviously not just about Liu Yifei, but many people who made the movie were affected.

8. End Of Cancel Culture - Suffice to say; numerous calls have been made to end “cancel culture” once and for all. In a letter published in Harper’s magazine, more than 150 influential journalists and academics put their name to a paper which warns of the threat of “ideological conformity”, and how we should put an end to it. 

The radicalization of “cancel culture” was restricting the “free exchange of information and ideas,” they warned.

Because if you say the wrong thing, you’re cancelled. Scary, isn’t it?

9. Backlash - However, critics have since dismissed the letter, stating that it was written and supported by powerful people who complain of backlash when people disagree with them.

Thankfully no one who signed the letter is cancelled. Yet.

10. Cancel Culture, For The Better Or Worse? - As cancel culture becomes more and more prevalent on the global platform, we have ultimately come to one single dilemma:

Is cancel culture for the better, or worse?

In light of the question, we have to consider both sides of the equation. Though one notion does come through in a prominent fashion.

“‘Cancel culture’ is what happens when victims of racism and sexism stop keeping their perpetrators’ secrets,” University of Michigan professor Lisa Nakamura told AFP.

So in a sense, is it simply what happens when a victim of bullying chooses to speak up for himself/herself? To a certain extent, yes.

However, what happens if it occurs not as a defensive mechanism, but an ill-intended campaign to smear another’s reputation?

A platform for ‘bullies’ to extend their reach even further, that’s what it is.

Not all changes are actually as positive as one would perceive right now?

And cliche as it may sound, hope for the best.

Pew Research Center asked Americans in September 2020 to share – in their own words – what they think the term means and, more broadly, how they feel about the act of calling out others on social media. 

Overall, 44% of Americans say they have heard at least a fair amount about the phrase, including 22% who have heard a great deal, according to the Center’s survey of 10,093 U.S. adults, conducted Sept. 8-13, 2020. Still, an even larger share (56%) say they’ve heard nothing or not too much about it, including 38% who have heard nothing at all.

The most common responses by far centered around accountability. Some 49% of those familiar with the term said it describes actions people take to hold others accountable.

A small share who mentioned accountability in their definitions also discussed how these actions can be misplaced, ineffective or overtly cruel.

Some 14% of adults who had heard at least a fair amount about cancel culture described it as a form of censorship, such as a restriction on free speech or as history being erased.

A similar share (12%) characterized cancel culture as mean-spirited attacks used to cause others harm

Five other distinct descriptions of the term cancel culture also appeared in Americans’ responses: people canceling anyone they disagree with, consequences for those who have been challenged, an attack on traditional American values, a way to call out issues like racism or sexism, or a misrepresentation of people’s actions.