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 critical for democracy!"
This approach argues that cancel culture empowers marginalised groups. It understands that society is built in institutionalised hierarchies that cut across social identities. The de-platforming of offensive views is therefore an important type of activism. Cancel culture has become an important tool to redress these inequalities.
Cancel culture is being weaponised by a privileged elite
Critics of cancel culture are largely made up of society's traditional beneficiaries: those in power.Explore
Cancel culture redresses systemic oppression
Cancel culture empowers marginalised individuals to fight back against structural inequalities that have traditionally held them back.Explore
Cancel culture is a valuable form of protest that asks society to prioritize justice for victims over perpetrators’ discomfort
In a democracy, citizens have the right to peaceably protest ideas or institutions that they find harmful. Cancel culture gives marginalized voices a platform, and allows society to progress by educating themselves about historical violence. Rather than threatening free speech, it asks for society to prioritize ethics.Explore
"Cancel culture is a myth"
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 typifies the snowflake mentality
Cancel culture is just one element of the ongoing millennial campaign for a more anodyne world. Injustice exists.Explore
Cancel culture is a byproduct of smart technology
This perspective looks at cancel culture as artificially engineered by AI and smart technology.Explore
Cancel culture represents a shift in public accountability
Cancel culture has given rise to forms of positive social progress.Explore
Cancel culture may not be widespread.
How widespread is cancel culture? What is its impact? How often are people cancelled? It is possible the cancel culture debate is more hysteria than reality. Without data, it is hard to know. The validity of arguments for and against cancel culture are hard to assess with understanding how real cancel culture is.Explore
"Cancel culture must be cancelled!"
This approach argues that cancel culture exposes a crisis of individual liberty. It considers freedom of expression to be an inalienable right. Disagreement is being weaponised to silence those who hold unpopular views.
Cancel culture creates a climate of fear
Cancel culture threatens to destroy the lives and livelihoods of its victims for holding unpopular views. In this, it creates a social environment in which few have the courage to express themselves for fear of being attacked.Explore
Cancel culture is an insidious form of virtue signalling
Cancel culture isn't really about justice. Instead, it's a vicious competition of who can make themselves look better by putting someone else down.Explore
Cancel culture promotes a vitriolic mob mentality
Cancel culture promotes a ruthless mob mentality that celebrates intimidation. It exists solely to victimise not only public figures, but anyone who happens to draw the ire of the mob.Explore
Cancel culture is rooted in the ethics of white supremacy
Despite its supposed social justice agenda, cancel culture actually has its roots in white supremacy. Its practice of shutting down dissent perfectly matches oppressive tendencies of the past.Explore
Cancel culture endangers democracy
Democracy mediates different groups of people with differing viewpoints. Cancel culture upsets that balance, rejecting diversity of opinion and keeping one viewpoint in power.Explore
Cancel culture represents a crisis of free speech
Cancel culture targets people who express contrary opinions. This directly opposes the ideal that everyone is entitled to freedom of expression.Explore
Cancel culture wrongly assumes morality is binary
Cancel culture assumes that morals and people are either good or bad, right or wrong. In reality, ideals and people are more nuanced than that, but cancel culture doesn't allow anyone to understand that.Explore
Cancel culture strengthens the surveillance state
Cancel culture is a form of ideological policing. Social media has reduced privacy. Simultaneously, trust in the state is being fast eroded. Truth is increasingly elusive in our news, our media and our politics. This crisis of authenticity, and what to believe, means there is no longer a set of agreed upon facts about how to engage with each other, or draw conclusions from what we see. The combination of these two factors has turned us all into informants. In this case, cancel culture is a survival strategy. One built on individual performance of the surveillance state. Proponents include author Kat Rosenfield and key figures in the left wing press including New Republic reporter Osita Nwanevu.Explore
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020 at 13:36 UTC