Is cancel culture good and fair?


Fact Box

  • The term “cancel culture” is extremely new - coined in 2019 [1].
  • Also referred to as “call-out” or “outrage culture”, cancel culture exists to use public humiliation or shaming to hold individuals accountable for actions deemed offensive by other individuals or groups. This is usually executed via social media [2].
  • Cancel culture has real-life ramifications, such as performers losing their jobs, and other public figures being boycotted for perceived derogatory speech and held beliefs [3,4].

Jasmine (Yes)

Although “cancel culture” always lies at the peak of enormous controversy, it aims to reform the means of justice for the victim by depriving the perpetrator of their comfortable cultural cachet. People have endured shame and discrimination by belonging to a certain community, race, gender or economic status. Cancel culture has become a valid method of providing much-needed justice to those people.

Cancel culture is impactful, instantly removing someone’s prestige which was used for inappropriate purposes. Most culture shaming is directed against the famous or affluent. When comedian Shane Gillis’ video of him using homophobic and racial slurs emerged, he was fired from Saturday Night Live [1]. News of Harvey Weinstein’s abuse and assault of women caused his quick dismissal by the entertainment industry [2]. Likewise, gender-critical feminist, Maya Forstater, tweeted her views on UK authorities moving forward with the Gender Recognition Certificate [3]. Maya lost her job because of her tweets, and when J.K Rowling tweeted her support with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya [4], she was met with backlash, putting her book sales at risk [5]. 

Grievances like these against outlier groups by those with influence are addressed swiftly. This opportunity for instant boycott is a powerful tool to use against offending groups. It’s an attempt to protect the rights of everyone - whether its men and women in the entertainment industry, or the rights of those in the trans community. Cancel culture sets an example for ways to live correctly while protecting diversity. It should always be administered as a means of correction and reform in order to promote unification and inclusivity.

Manahil (No)

In a world where the internet has enough power to fuel entire movements, there are bound to be some complications. With the growing influence of the internet on people’s lives, we’ve seen the emergence of cancelling people - aka “cancel culture.” What cancelling someone basically means is to completely ostracize them because of a recent or past mistake. If someone does something that’s considered to be problematic, they lose all legitimacy.

What gets lost in the process is the nuances in each situation. The entire meaning of cancelling someone gets reduced to calling out the person more than calling out the action. It essentially removes the focus from the problem at hand. In the grand scheme of things, this behaviour is only reduced to label the person who is cancelled as problematic and any other nuances regarding the situation are pushed to the side.

The point is you can’t expect to fix a problem by practically forcing people out of society without giving them a chance to redeem themselves. Cancelling anyone doesn’t magically fix anything. There is no conversation about how to improve oneself and how to give people more chances to fix what they have done when all people care about is cancelling anyone and everyone. And thus power dynamics also play a huge role in cancelling someone. Whoever is more vocal gets to decide who gets cancelled or not.

So cancel culture is really not a fair way to deal with individuals who have proven to be harmful to society. It leaves no room for any amends or redemption but only inculcates a sense of mob mentality where people blatantly cancel others just because everyone else is doing so. [Sources: 1,2,3]

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