Cancel Culture, the modern form of ostracism, is getting out of hand. Ousting people from social or professional circles - online on social media, in the real world, or both, isn't really as enticing as it sounds. Let's see what it means to be "cancelled".
Cancel Culture, or call-out culture, is a form of boycott movement aimed at ousting someone from social media when they do something ‘wrong’. The whole internet unites in attacking that wrong-doer to the point that “they are cancelled”. The modern-day peak of Cancel Culture can be traced back to the #MeToo movement, in which the internet shamed the accused into cancelling them.
Origin of Cancel Culture
While the air around this phenomenon has always remained hot and controversial, the concept of cancelling someone takes cyber-bullying to another level. For example, online shaming a celebrity for some offensive content not only forces them to go off the grid from social media for weeks and months, but it also has an implosive impact of that individual’s mental health.
It has become straightforward to cancel someone outright if their past is extremely toxic, but in doing so, the window for improvement get shut irretrievably. Cancel Culture seems to have gotten out of hand as everything people, especially people with a significant following, put up on social media remains under extensive scrutiny – a small error could be taken as an offence.
There is constant surveillance on whatever is put up on social media and is usually blown way out of proportion. The whole concept seems problematic because it allows influencers and celebrities to manipulate audiences into thinking what’s acceptable and what is not.
How To Get Cancelled (You Don't Want To Learn, But We Have to Tell)
Cancel Culture as a phenomenon promotes the ‘cancellation’ of people or brands that make problematic or offensive statements. Twitter users are often ready to pull out the big guns and trend anything controversial. The users are prepared to investigate any situation and use it to cancel people or companies.
Should public figures be aware of what they are doing right at all times? Well, ideally, yes. But we do not live in an ideal world. While fans look up to celebrities and consume their content, stars must be as correct and factual as possible. But if and when they get on the wrong side of the general acceptability, they ‘need’ not be flamed under the fire of bullying, trolls and abuses.
Dissent and non- acquiescence can be portrayed effectively using social media in non-harmful ways. But the line between what is cancel-worthy and controversial is hazy. Using racial and homophobic slurs is often a reason why someone is cancelled. Cultural appropriation is another reason why people attack celebrities. These issues generally cause someone to get cancelled.
How to Stop This Cult?
The strength of cancel culture is extensive; it can ravage careers with few tweets and comments. When people voice controversial opinions, the trend on social media can only be either good or bad. Cancel Culture can be for good too as it makes sure celebrities don’t use their platform to use offensive slurs and ensure that they put out useful content.
There are some ways we could fix cancel culture. Like recently, Twitter has begun taking away the metrics so people can no longer see the number of retweets and likes. There is an argument that withdrawing cancel culture could rise to an additional cancel culture as part of a vicious cycle.
The Rise of Religious Extremism in Cancel Culture
The Netflix web-series Delhi Crime based on the 2012 Delhi Gang-rape bagged an International Emmy Award for the Best Drama. While some were celebrating this victory, a section was against the show and tweeted #BanNetflix for its inappropriate content.
Another outcry was based on the on-screen kiss between Hindu and Muslim characters in a temple’s backdrop in A Suitable Boy on Netflix. Many political leaders found this scene to have hurt religious sentiments, and Netflix faced legal and online consequences. J.K Rowling was under fire for allegedly making trans-phobic comments, and the internet cancelled her right away.
In India, cancel Culture is tied up with religious sentiments of political parties. Anything that distresses the Hindutva ideology faces the wrath, and the ruling party is backed with online trollers ready to cancel it.
The recent example of cancel culture can be seen in the Bollywood industry. Celebrities were accused of nepotism, and the internet did not stop the trolling. It is noteworthy that the country has faced a lot of controversies under cancel culture. The government has even initiated OTT platforms’ regulations as efforts for moral policing on such media are bolstered.
Saving Grace of Cancel Culture
Cancel culture movement is found to be intolerant of opposing views as it shames and ostracises people publically. There are positives to this as well- during the #MeToo Movement, people condemned workplace sexual harassment, and it led to the cancellation of an evil trope. Some online movements led public opinion and policies to eradicate social issues like racism, sexual violence and homophobia.
Pandemic Awakened Cancel Culture
Cancel Culture is treated as a negative movement and toxic because people are always under scrutiny and called out for their smallest mistakes. Google trends data indicated that cancel culture was the most searched interest in July 2020. There were constant cancellations of celebrities in 2021 like Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star, Kanye West and many other YouTubers which fuelled more drama online.
Celebrities face backlash and get cancelled online for past tweets and actions when the internet researches on them. They are judged on their actions for their past, and it affects their career in the present.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, activism sparked with the Black Lives Matter movement and cancellations peaked. Many cancellations led to the firing and other career consequences. People think it is important to take accountability for their wrong-doings and problematic pasts through this practice.