For a while here, practically every day we hear “such a person has been canceled” or similar phrases. In a world that increasingly reviews its actions trying to be politically correct, combined with the immediacy of social networks that, in turn, give a voice to those who did not have it before, the reprehensible actions of public figures take on a magnitude up to previously unthinkable, causing the scandal and the “cancellation”.
But What is cancellation and, more specifically, what is cancellation culture? What are your ties to the film and television industry? How can this new vision of the world affect the audiovisual productions we consume? Let’s try together to disarm this mess a bit.
To start this article we must define what it means to cancel someone: When we talk about “cancelling” this or that person, we are referring to expressing, especially online, the repudiation of someone’s offensive actions, generally a celebrity. Whether it is for sexist, racist or abusive behaviour, for transmitting hate messages or an endless number of similar actions, through the wide world of social networks, users, generally anonymous, are called to stop consuming that person and to express their unhappy with anyone who continues to associate with her. Examples abound: from Harvey Weinstein until Armie Hammergoing by Kevin Spacey, Roseanne Barr and so many others.
This type of collective actions that occur, above all, within social networks, with Twitter In the lead, they are the ones that gave birth to what is now known as cancellation culture and which, like almost every social phenomenon, has its pros and cons.
Of course (and although it seems obvious I prefer to emphasize it) it is not bad for people to express their opinions, much less to repudiate those who have reprehensible behaviors. Fortunately, in today’s world there is less and less room for abusers, xenophobes, homophobes and racists. However, the power of anonymity that gives Internetas well as the volatility of its speed sometimes become a double-edged sword and that is why the cancellation culture is often viewed with a critical eye.
To understand the problem of the culture of cancellation and how the word of these anonymous vigilantes behind a keyboard can affect the industry that interests us, the audiovisual industry, it is enough to see the case of Johnny Depp.
Between 2016 and the 2018, Depp was accused by his ex-partner, the actress Amber Heardof domestic violence. Because of these accusations, Deppwhom generations of viewers knew how to love, was left without a job. The actor, who was part of the cast of one of the most successful franchises of recent times, Harry Potterfound himself fired due to the production company’s fear of facing the angry mobs of cancel culture.
It took a few more years and one of the world’s most publicized trials for Deppwho had been virtually ostracized, could claim vindication. By completely laying bare his bond with Amber Heard in front of the cameras, it became clear that the “cancellation” it had suffered had been, to say the least, hasty and exaggerated.
So is cancel culture good or bad? In Argentina we would say “neither very very, nor so so”. As I said at the beginning, it’s good to know that today’s society no longer tolerates the same things as before. It is also interesting to discover the power we have, even as anonymous consumer users. Internet and social networks are a rich tool for organizing ourselves and making our opinions felt in ways that weigh in and force those who produce to do so ethically.
However, the speed of Internet and many times the lack of appropriate ways to check the information before it spreads throughout the world, make that same power that we possess fall with all its weight on the wrong people or that hasty decisions are made not to face it.
Then what do we do? Do we cancel or not cancel? It’s not that easy. Before putting ourselves in the role of judges and brandishing the mallet of our anonymous power, we must inform ourselves. And also, of course, we will have to make our own decisions. Do we feel comfortable in the role of judges? Do we need a judicial verdict to know if someone deserves to be canceled or not? Do we separate artist from work or is it impossible? All these questions will remain for each one, in their internal forum, to answer them.