Does "Cancel Culture" Cancel Culture?

Cancel culture, if you don't know, refers to a sort of communal social media call to boycott individuals whose words, actions, or beliefs are offensive.


Cancel culture is controversial. Some people think public figures and sometimes even average Joes are too often unfairly "canceled" for minor faux pas or momentary lapses in judgment with the sentiment that they will never be forgiven. It can even have career ending implications, in some cases. Others see "canceling" as a way of ensuring individuals take appropriate accountability for promoting harmful messages.


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Personally, I'm both peace signs and pitchforks. One minute I'm canceling Kathy Griffin for her creepy, distasteful, headless Trump stunt and Roseanne Barr for her disgustingly racist rant (does it count as canceling for two celebrities nobody cared to remember anyway?), and the next I'm railing against a Facebook post that lectures me on how I can't dress my daughter as Moana for Halloween because it's, "cultural appropriation". Clearly, I'm a very busy person. I just wish I had more me time, you know?


Honestly, it's exhausting patrolling the Internet. I'm such a good patroller, some people have started calling me "troll" for short. I am not asking for applause or acclaim and no, I don't get a paycheck (Cash App: $WyoAnna).


Sometimes the most important work is also the most thankless. I shudder to think what this country would devolve into if I came across an unsavory social media post and just kept scrolling. I did that once in March of 2020 and, well, you saw what happened.

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The hard truth is, cancel culture is dangerous mostly because the majority of our greatest heroes and highest achievers historically and currently are morally bankrupt human beings. Where would we be now if back in the day Twitter existed to call out Hemingway's misogyny or Elvis' infatuation with a 14 year old? Sinatra? Canceled. Jefferson? Canceled. Gandhi? Oh, you better believe he's canceled.

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Seriously, just take a few minutes to peruse your heroes' bios on Wikipedia and you'll probably get that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach only deep moral conflict can create.


Case in point, Michael Jackson. Remember all those disturbing allegations and how he held a baby upside down over a railing and then how they made that tribute movie right after he died? What are we supposed to do with all of THAT?! Do we just say, "Yeah, he was a weird dude, but sweet moonwalk." In my heart I know if we wanna make the world a better place, we take a look at ourselves and make the change, but, honestly, I feel like there's a bit more to unpack here. At least he straight up told us, "I'm bad".

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There must be some reason why the greatest contributors to human achievement as we know it have more dirty laundry than the rest of us. We're all human, sure, but most of us aren't electrocuting a circus elephant in a public square as a publicity stunt like Edison. So, do we, like, cancel the great contributors, too, or keep telling our elementary kids only the good stuff about them?


All in all, I find this topic tough and uncomfortable, and I don't think anyone really has the answer. Do we separate the contributions from the contributor? I mean, I guess so, but if Ted Bundy were also a brilliant composer I think I'd take issue listening to his music. Do we cancel history? Well, probably shouldn't do that, exactly, but I hope we can all agree it was a good call for that Atlanta school named after a KKK leader to rename itself after Hank Aaron this year (Seriously, though, what took them so long?).

In conclusion (I love writing conclusions when I haven't come to any), many of our heroes, present and past, are largely morally bankrupt but contributed valuable stuff to humanity. We all want to be heard and we all want to break off associations with people we find detestable. But detestable people can also contribute fantastic things to society, apparently? What do we do with all this? Just feel conflicted all the time about mankind's capacity for greatness mixed with depravity? Ugh. Reminds me of that uncomfortable feeling you get reading almost any story in the Old Testament.

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I guess, just be kind and conscientious. I'm kidding. I won't tell you what to do (unlike those white women on Facebook who can't stop talking about how non-Polynesian girls shouldn't dress like Moana).

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