The art director that always slightly gropes the actresses on film sets? Cancelled. Your uncle that loves discussing his admiration for the Trump administration at Christmas time even though he has never set foot outside of Western Europe? Definitely cancelled! The Finnish boy that lives down the street who did not censor the N-word while singing along to A$AP Rocky’s Problem? I know I would cancel him.
In a world where these controversies seem to become just as trendy as the people they are connected to, cancel culture is expanding at alarming rates (I really sound like a BBC news reporter talking about climate change I’m so sorry). It is though, and its striking every facet of pop culture. That people are being cancelled for their misbehavior is a great and empowering phenomenon, something social media in particularly has facilitated. We do, however, need to discuss its limits.
Recently, Channel 4 aired the highly controversial documentary Leaving Neverland which focuses on Michael Jackson and his child abuse allegations. In the two-part special, Wade Robson and James Safechuck are being interviewed about Jackson’s alleged sexual misconduct with these two individuals. What followed was a media with – again – a huge amount of people calling to cancel the superstar. But why? The guy is dead guys. No one is off limits according to cancel culture, deceased people included. I find this hard to digest, especially since people are so quick to slander someone based on media-fed discourses.
Another example comes from someone perhaps a bit closer to my socio-economic status. I was on Twitter a few days ago and a 19-year old boy on Twitter was being vilified for comments he made about American supergirl Beyoncé. The Beyhive, a title given to Beyoncé’s most dedicated fans, was mad. Mad enough for them to dig up anything about anyone who crossed them wrongly. That is exactly what they did, and in a matter of minutes they Twitter-searched the N-word and found various tweets created by him. “Great, cancel him”, I’m hearing myself say while reading these tweets.
However, upon closer inspection, I saw that the tweets were created in 2012. This means he would have been twelve at the time. Don’t get me wrong, age does not dictate anyone’s emotional intelligence at all. What was interesting though, was that more recent tweets using the same keyword were not found at all. This guy must have been ignorant in the past, but he changed. And we all do, we live and we learn!
I feel like we should stop cancelling people just for the sake of it. And maybe, just maybe, do we need to have a bit more compassion for one another and their learning curve.
Nevertheless, if anyone gropes you in your gym session or refers to you with a word that rhymes with “bigger” (and is NOT black), by all means, cancel them. But cancel ‘cancelling culture’.