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Toxic Fandoms and Cancel Culture: Being Critical of the Concept

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Volunteer Writer Ada Ughanwa talks us through the concept of ‘cancel culture’ and the potential agenda and toxicity involved with this controversial phenomenon. 

‘Cancel culture’ is a term where celebrities, ordinary individuals or companies face social media backlashes due to controversial statements or posts made online.

Cancel culture has come to our attention as it raises concerns about our human rights and freedom of speech.

Critics from both sides argue that threats are posed as a result of what is being posted online. One side suggests that we use our God-given autonomy and do as we please whilst, the other side imposes restrictions on our freedom of speech.

Critics from both sides hold true to what they believe but where do we draw the middle ground?

One example of cancel culture can be linked to Patricia Bright. Patricia Bright is a fashion and lifestyle blogger, YouTuber, mother and entrepreneur. Patricia Bright is known to showcase her opinions on social media which at times, have backfired and come under controversy.

An example of this was earlier this year when Patricia Bright posted a tweet saying, ‘Some people made millions and profited heavily from the last lockdown…share price fluctuations meant huge profits for the risk-takers, and some people made banana loaf…both are ok’.

This tweet received a huge backlash as Patricia Bright was seen as being out of touch with society.

On the one hand, people were just about coping and surviving through lockdown post-2020 in the UK so, her remarks were seen as insensitive and inconsiderate considering the climate that we were and are still in.

On the other hand, her fanbase supported this post seeing it as, genuine without having any ill-intentions but, rather highlighting people on two different spectrums in lockdown.

She quickly had to respond as her tweet went viral ‘To clarify…I’m in the category of banana loaf makers, the kitchen is a happy place for me!’.

This shows that ‘cancel culture’ does exist and if not careful, celebrities’ statements can be misinterpreted which could lead them to disrepute as happened above with Patricia Bright.

A more recent example can be seen in the Dr Seuss book collections. Dr Seuss was an American born author who wrote popular cartoon collections between the 1950s- 1990s. His books were popular and widely read in kindergarten and primary schools across the globe.

However, six books from his collection which are: “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!”, “Scrambled Eggs Super!”, and “The Cat’s Quizzer” were ‘cancelled’ and discontinued.

These six books allegedly portray ‘hurtful and wrong’ racist imagery which is counterintuitive to the multi-cultural and diverse society we live in. So, the decision was made to discontinue the six books so that Dr Seuss’ collections were up to date with modern times.

Critics, especially from the right claimed this to be ‘cancel culture’ from the left and how it is censoring free speech and seeking out problems that don’t exist.

On the other hand, racist depictions should be a thing from the past so, surely removing six books from a beloved author will do no harm? But rather good, to help build a more inclusive and diverse society and world.

‘Cancel culture’ has an agenda as people pick and choose who to ‘cancel’ when it’s convenient for them.

I do not support cancel culture in the sense of shunning someone’s wrongdoing from the past as people change, and beliefs and viewpoints alter.

I believe that people should be given a chance to redeem themselves if they’re seen in the wrong, like in the case of Dr Seuss’ six books.

Header by Label designer Annabel Smith

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Label Features Editor 2020-21

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