If there is one thing that has become a rage in the world of international social media behaviour it is something called the ‘Cancel Culture.’ Yes, ‘Cancel Culture’ has become a widespread phenomenon throughout the world and it goes on to mark how social media users are now wanting to take complete control over their lives and decisions in the virtual world and are not ready to stand with celebrities who speak against/hurt/abuse or remain silent on issues that they should be vocal about.
If one were to explain Cancel Culture in simple words, it would be the practice of people coming together and removing an offender.
This has intensified in the last couple of weeks as the coronavirus pandemic assumed an unprecedented intensity and people were largely confined to their homes.
With so many people staying at home and the usage of social media amplifying manifold, people seem to be giving more time to ‘cancellations.’ One of the big celebrities who was cancelled in this new culture was the creator of the Harry Potter series and author JK Rowling for making remarks that apparently hurt the sentiments of the transgender community.
Singer Lana Del Rey was criticised for the usage of anti-feminist lyrics for her songs and was cancelled after there was an uproar on her reactions on Instagram. Among those who have been cancelled in recent times is popular YouTuber Jenna Marbles who was highly criticised for her videos wherein she used gender stereotypes, offensive words and blackface.
The trends from this newly started ‘Cancel Culture’ show that people wish to express their freedom online and they are willing to “cancel” celebrities who violate the norms of equity, justice and moral responsibility.
Fans can make a celebrity popular but at the same time they are the ones who can immediately push them to the margins if they appear to snatch away or infringe on the values that they cherish.
Following the controversy of JK Rowling’s recent tweet, several fans across the world are working to distance themselves from “Harry Potter and the author who failed us.”
Rowling’s remarks were criticised by popular actors from the film series based on the books such as Daniel Radcliffe, Eddie Redmayne, Noma Dumezweni and Emma Watson. Moreover, staff and publisher Hachette is also rethinking whether or not to take up work on Rowling’s latest book.
While the Cancel Culture is allowing social media users more collective strength to speak against and show their power to celebrities who abuse their positions, it is all important that we rethink such a culture and arrive at something that may be called a ‘Context Culture’.
This Context Culture would mean that we would be prepared to allow people more time, space and opportunity to denounce socio-historic mistakes and would help others to unleash their potential for inner growth and mental transformation.
It is important to allow people the knowledge, exposure, space and wisdom required to outgrow traditionalist/ fundamentalist/orthodox ways of looking at the world and develop a more progressive and-open-minded approach.
This does not imply giving celebrities or personalities a free pass to get away by saying anything and its not about freeing them from accountability but it asserts that even their scope for improvement and growth must not be denied.
Such a culture would reduce the likelihood of mob mentality and give way to constructive criticism.