Returning volunteer, Rahul Mathasing, shares why if he could change one thing about the world it would be ‘cancel culture’.
Cancelling cancel culture
What would I get rid of if I could? Cancel Culture.
You’ve got to love a bit of irony.
Let me clarify though… I’m only referring to the oblique, unresearched few who follow a current trend of opinions and decide that they too must be outraged and boycott or vilify someone or something.
Those who draw genuine trauma or attachment from an issue or a person in the news, you cancel away if it helps you, or helps others…
When you look at cases like R Kelly and Harvey Weinstein – men who have been accused and now convicted of horrific and vile acts and crimes; they as people deserved to be left to the void to be forgotten about and paid no attention to. The crimes they have committed, however, need to be remembered because it is only by remembering what they have done and how they have hurt so many that we can truly begin to realise that simply “cancelling” them doesn’t solve the issue.
With Harvey Weinstein especially, even in the dark world of Hollywood, his acts stood out. And yes, there were many around him who claimed not to know, and maybe some genuinely didn’t but for anybody who featured in a film, or worked on it – do they also deserve to be cancelled?
My point is this: frivolous cancelling, whether for gallant reasons or not, doesn’t really do anything except create hype around the fact someone has been “cancelled.”
And in this 21st century digital age, you can never differentiate between who is a genuinely horrific waste of carbon atoms, and who has accidentally said something they shouldn’t have 5 years ago on Twitter.
Nothing really separates these faceless cases until we actually look into them and by then it’s almost too late to take anything from them.
The severe transgressions and mistakes of others, whilst never condoned, do offer the chance to create teaching moments and opportunities for growth in our larger community. If we explore why someone has done something, assuming it’s not isolated to them just being an awful person, then we can hopefully weed out toxic behaviour and use it as an example, rather than simply making an example out of them. To me that’s always been a very superficial way of tackling issues such as sexism, assault, toxic masculinity and so much more:
“This person did X; X is bad and we know that; so we’re going to prove it by punishing them for doing X. Don’t do X folks.”
(Please excuse my example as narrated by Donald Trump.)
Meanwhile, X still happens and we just sit there smiling like an overfed puppy because we had one large example and suddenly think the world is made of happiness and tolerance.
Cancel culture just perpetuates the idea of “out of sight, out of mind”. It solves quite literally nothing. A YouTuber gets cancelled and they post a washy apology without understanding why; a politician gets cancelled and they step down or resign without any real consequence; a Hollywood mogul get cancelled, charged and convicted, and the inequality of the industry still exists.
Our ability to spot wrongdoing is astounding: we spot something isn’t right, are vocal about it and raise awareness. All of that is incredible and renews my faith in humanity.
We then go and ruin it with superficial outrage and competitions on who can shout the loudest.
Next time something like this happens, and it will because of what I’ve just said, maybe we should take a step back and try to understand why it happens instead – then maybe band together to make a difference.
Let’s try that, friends.
Featured image by Sarah Hannaford