The BIG problem with cancel culture by Billie Walker.
Contribution by Billie Walker
The feud between Chidera Eggerue and Florence Given has been waging for a while now, beginning when Eggerue accused Given of copying her book both in values and in the self-help style. Eggerue is well within her rights to highlight the problems with the marketing tactics as Chelsea Mtada also goes into, of the Diving Bell Group, which published both authors. However, to claim theft of feminist ideals is a stretch.
This fight highlights a larger issue with society and our obsession with individuals over ideals, which is inevitable when you tie a person’s worth to their finances. Munroe Bergdorf highlighted that nothing has been stolen from Eggerue because she does not own feminism. This isn’t a fight between feminists, it’s a grab for capital.
The problem is not Eggerue, Given, or anyone else who has chosen to involve themselves in the feud raging on social media. It is the way we have been taught to value individuals, subscribing to them with our money and social media following. We have habitually followed, bought, and subscribed, ready to flippantly cancel, unfollow and move onto the next progressive person. We think cancel culture gives us the power to uplift individuals and penalise the actions of those that fail to live up to woke standards. But it is creating a fragile ego-minded society that calculates and arbitrate every public move in fear of their followers dropping if they say the wrong thing.
Cancel culture is what allows Chidera Eggerue’s followers to rage on Florence Given, rather than criticising the publishing industry that capitalises on feminism, pitting two supposedly intersectional women against each other. Jeffree Star’s weeping apology on YouTube was brought to you by cancel culture, so afraid was he of losing his following that he turned to misery porn. We need to break the pitchforks at dawn mentality as it only shatters people and forces them to spew vitriol that we gasp at receiving. But why are we so appalled, if you back anyone into a corner and they will retaliate. It feels like an episode of Black Mirror: leftie social media accounts forcing people to crack and reveal their worst selves, and then complaining when they do.
The main problem with cancel culture is that it is in no way transformative.
Hattie Banfield argues that the threat of being ostracised from the public image is ‘what is needed to force responsibility and retribution’, but this threat affectively stunts growth. Gen-Z are the first generation to grow up with the consistent and global reaching platforms in the palm of their hands, which makes having a public facing image a matter of fact rather than a choice. How can we expect young people to enter into these realms with flawless voice? Aren’t the mistakes that we make the things that force us to readdress our character. If we learn to walk on egg shells to avoid cancellation, we aren’t becoming better people, we are simply learning how to mask our problematic thoughts.
Anti-racist educator Marie Beecham explained why she’s come to the decision that she is now anti cancel culture in a recent Instagram reel: ‘…what I’m critiquing is the general overwhelming sense that if someone makes a mistake that if someone isn’t woke enough they should be exiled and outcast.’ Beecham states that call out and cancel culture is unattainable as the wokeness finish line is forever being moved and she’s right. No one is born screaming for the police to be defunded and knowing how to articulate their consent. If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we always have more to unlearn.
To cancel is to treat a person as if they are a thing you can subscribe to much like a streaming service, as if the individual is the be all and end all of the ideal they promote. Denying everyone the basic human trait of erring. We are all capable of mistakes its inherently human, but capitalism makes no space for it, it asks that we use our personalities perspectives and social ideals to sell and produce. If you choose to continue to cancel people for their online slip ups you are denying people their ability to change. It may not be your responsibility to educate them. But ostracising a person will reinforce the cycle that treats people as personalities and values as discardable trends, to be bought, consumed and never addressed again.
Contribution by Billie Walker