In June 2020, cancel culture claimed its latest victim: the popular children's television show Paw Patrol. It was claimed that its protagonists - animated dogs who operate as police in a fictional universe - were being derided. These pieces said critics saw its positive portrayal of law enforcement strengthened a culture of deference to the police. Headlines around the world stated cancel culture had gone mad. But none of this was true. What began as a joke about cancel culture had grown into a conspiracy tearing across the internet. This crisis underpinned the bigger picture: anyone can be cancelled, and it has gone so far it can reach the international news without questioning. In recent years, the practice of withdrawing support for public figures who hold controversial views has exploded. And not just amongst the cartoons. Michael Jackson, JK Rowling, Louis CK, Woody Allen: the list of its celebrity victims is growing. The boom has divided opinion. Some believe it is a form of online activism that helps the marginalised hold the powerful to account. Their opponents see it as a devastating attack on civil liberties. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?
Cancel culture is a mythShow moreShow less
This approach argues that society is always changing, and culture adapts with it. Cancel culture has not emerged from historical power relationships. It has grown out of internet culture, produced by changing public attitudes.
Cancel culture is just one element of the ongoing millennial campaign for a more anodyne world. Injustice exists. Life can be difficult. And yet, millennials have become so sensitive to ideas they don't agree with, they can no longer understand complex issues through any lens other than their own. Identity politics is the cornerstone of this perspective. It is as Senator Tom Cotton said of the cancelling of a commencement address by Ivanka Trump, "If the snowflakes so offended by the idea of hearing from a White House advisor couldn't contain their emotions, they should have skipped the speech...Instead, they ruined it for everyone." Proponents include conservative author and commentator Douglas Murray and the alt-right press.