There is a TV ad running by a certain individual who uses this platform to refer to cancel culture. His product is no longer in at least four major store chains due to his political support of a former President’s claim that the 2020 U.S. election was stolen.
I’m guessing most readers in North America know of this ad. I literally want to scream when it comes on, so I’ve taken to switching the channel or hitting the mute button. Here’s why.
What this businessman is experiencing may be cancel culture, but I call it repercussion or consequence for ideology that perpetuates a lie or conspiracy theory. Repercussion is an unintended or unwelcome consequence of an action. For instance, if you speed and get caught, a fine is the consequence. If you cheat on your spouse, getting kicked out of the house and served with divorce papers may be a consequence. If you choose to spout racial slurs and jokes in the office, the repercussion will most likely find you out of a job. In any of these examples, you may also be ostracized by family, friends, church or former work peers.
Is that cancel culture or the consequences of inappropriate or illegal actions? Is Mr. Businessman using cancel culture as an excuse for his behavior and the loss of sellers for his products? Is he trying to justify what many believe to be inappropriate and untruthful behavior by diverting to a negative term?
Cancel culture is defined as “the mass withdrawal of support from public figures or celebrities who have done things that aren’t socially accepted today.” Okay, so it could apply to Mr. Businessman, but I don’t have much sympathy for his predicament. We all make our beds and lie in them. Much like a football quarterback who lost the backing of a health entity (he did commercials for them) because of not truthfully sharing his vaccination status. Dude is a future Hall of Fame quarterback, but his actions off the field cost him a small part of his income.
When I consider “cancel culture,” I think of those who are wrongfully ostracized because they speak their own truths (not lies or subversive speech) or try to rally others for a social cause.
Remember the Dixie Chicks when, on March 10, 2003, Natalie Mains of that group stated, “We don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas.” Those words prompted most of the country music fanbase and industry to boycott their albums and blacklist them from the airwaves. At the time, I kept wondering why this was happening when we live in a democracy with free speech. I saw nothing wrong with what she said (okay, so I’m a liberal) and felt they were being crucified for simply stating an opinion that didn’t physically or financially hurt anyone. These ladies were true victims of cancel culture and it’s striking to me how mild that comment is in today’s world.
I also refer to Colin Kaepernick, who, on August 26, 2016, sat during the national anthem, before the start of a football game between the San Francisco Forty-Niners and the Green Bay Packers. He had done this the two previous pre-season games, but no one had paid attention until this date. Colin was attempting to shine a light on racism and police brutality. Instead, a media firestorm ensued, accusing him of dishonoring the flag and country. A week later, Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the anthem and eventually, more players on his team and others would kneel or lock arms in support. Public opinion was split, but at the end of the regular season, Colin was out of a job and no other team would sign him. This, too, was cancel culture and not in a good way. Considering the issues of systemic racism and police brutality that have caused protests and deaths in subsequent years, perhaps we all should have listened to the San Francisco quarterback when he kneeled on the sidelines in 2016. Cancel culture is toxic when used to silence voices that are only trying to make the country a better place and I don’t mean the voices that perpetuate lies, half-truths, conspiracy theories, racism, hatred, etc.
Consequences come when you don’t share the truth, when you spread the lies of another or engage in inappropriate or illegal behavior. Mr. Businessman is suffering consequences and I’m not interested in his justification of cancel culture or his products. That being said, I don’t wish ill upon him as he has a right to make a living and support a political party. I only wish he would stop blaming others for the backlash of his words and actions, change his ad, and stop being on my TV every 10 minutes.
For what it’s worth, I would like the term “cancel culture” to go away. People need to take responsibility and face consequences for their words and actions and we all need listen to those with harmless personal opinions and valid social statements without judgment and persecution, and with respectful conversation. Instead of attaching a label, how about we simply act as decent, moral, accepting and responsible human beings?
What do you believe, dear readers? What is your take on cancel culture vs. consequence? Your thoughts?