by Akash Khatri
1 November 2020
Cancel culture, a social media phenomenon where active social media users seek to remove the clout of a celebrity who says or does something offensive by ‘cancelling’ them. Basically, the ‘cancel’ here means to cancel out or end a person’s career in reaction to his or her unacceptable behaviour or action. For instance, if there is a celebrity or any public figure who makes a misogynistic, racist, casteist, or sexist statement or commits an act of sexual crime, there could be calls to boycott the actor’s films and other works, exile him or her from all public events and disconnect the person from all the social alliances. As a result, the person is ‘cancelled’ culturally, socially, economically and politically.
There are two types of cancel culture, first one a call-out culture. Here, the responsible individual is mortified publicly on social media for his or her statements and the resulting outcry hold them accountable for their fallacy. The second variant is more serious. Here, the celebrity is called out on social media and a larger mass boycotts his or her products or services, eventually bringing a full stop to their careers. Most of the times it gets much wider and substantial or controversial but the immense recognition cancel culture enjoys, especially among teenagers and young adults, makes it one of the most controlling movements in recent times.
One of the main critiques of cancel culture is that it’s making people more bigoted, quick to judge and banish those who even slightly disagree with them. Cancel culture doesn’t leave any room for constructive discourse because social media users often deliver a quick decision, based on a snap judgment, to a celebrity they view as offensive — leaving no opportunity for them to put forward their explanation on their act and make their case against their own ‘cancellation.’ But people tend to forget — whether a celebrity is canceled or not, it is up to the celebrity themself, not on those wanting to cancel them. Though targeting someone will not just affect them, but their mental health and the livelihood of many related to them, and that’s not just. However, ending someone’s career completely is easier said than done.
Not many entities have had their careers completely shut down due to the negative views on the internet. Actor and activist Jameela Jamil, has said that this phenomenon is a “pointless waste of time.” But, then again, the term is utilsed among so many, that to figure out if the phenomenon is negative or positive have been made indistinct. The principal questions are: Has social media simply given another name to something that is going to exist for a lifetime? Does this phenomenon really exist when cancelling someone doesn’t mostly work forever? Does the idea of being cancelled stop awful content? Or is it just another trend that is being followed blindly?