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Current Affairs

Cancel culture

Date: 22 August 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Everything and everyone can be ‘cancelled’ if the internet collectively decides that it needs to be so. The term ‘collectively’ is important here because the cancelling of something is really a result of a mass movement.

 

Background

The meaning of the term ‘cancel’ hasn’t been very complex, but sometime in the past decade, it has acquired a new definition, particularly in context of internet lingo.

 

Details

  • J.K. Rowling is ‘cancelled’ because of her transphobic views. Cardi B and Nicki Minaj are ‘cancelled’ because they made homophobic comments.

  • Trump is ‘cancelled’ because of his racist, inappropriate conduct and words towards women, people of colour and immigrants. Kanye West is ‘cancelled’ for saying slavery was a ‘choice’ and for supporting Trump.

  • Very simply, cancelling means to stop giving support and credence to something or someone, including organisations and establishments, and so anyone in public consciousness can be subjected to this cancelling.

  • One of the reasons why the term’s exact meaning is still being ascertained is perhaps because it is relatively new and its scope is still evolving with developing online behaviour.

  • The most visible examples of cancel culture occur when a celebrity or public figure says or writes something or engages in an act that is deemed offensive and inappropriate by the public.

  • When a large number of people on social media platforms collectively object to any action by a public figure, it leads to calls to ‘cancel’ the person.

  • This cancelling occurs by pressuring the individual’s workplace to fire them, pressuring brands to drop their association with the offending individual, using threats of boycott or engaging in any other action that impacts the individual’s reputation or finances.

  • Cancel culture is also about enforcing some degree of accountability on an individual, although there have been arguments whether it is justified or not, particularly from a legal perspective.