Cancel Culture's Missed Moments

J. Jurout

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Photo by Michael Dziedzic on UnsplashPhoto by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

It could be the shoes left on the floor in the hallway again. Or the fighting. Or the yelling. As a parent of two young girls, I understand that it’s hard to live with uncivilized people. In this sense, I can identify with the callout movement. Like these defenders, I’ve tried to make my world a more considerate place. Like them, my efforts have sometimes backfired.

When I first became a parent, my belief in correctness occasionally translated into a kind of bad attitude. My conversations with my daughters were a little negative. Like Cancel Culture, I approached problems critically. I was quick to make demands. From those missed moments, I learned. Eventually, I used a more mature approach and have more success.

I now speak to the behavior and not to my childrens’ persons. I prioritize our relationships. With the aspiration to further improve, I don’t toss out threats. Instead, I present options. Where before I made demands, I now refer to “consequences”. We negotiate. During discussions, I work hard to express the courtesy that I expect to receive.

Cancel culture also missed moments. In a similar transformation, it also matured.

From “Cancel” to “Callout”

The change in the movement’s name - from “cancel culture” to “callout culture” - is testimony to its missed moments. The messengers showed high emotion and angry scolding, which likely turned some away from the message.

In the Goldberg and Rowling incidents, the offenses seemed small. The complaints appeared large. Goldberg’s remarks were deemed - not “offensive” but merely “insensitive”. The defenders of the callout culture cited Rowling - not for macro - but for microaggressions. In this missed moment, the general public viewed the demands for canceling as extreme.

Overreactions

The "offenses" were only words and not actions. The extent of the social media defenders' outrage seemed excessive. The complaints were based on the public figures' word choices. The callouts of Goldberg and Rowling referred to comments. The comments did not sound like hate speech. Many in the movement seemed to be overreacting. Then, the defenders lost more credibility when they disregarded the celebrity's olive branches.

Unreasonable Demands

Goldberg, Rowling, and Rogan all responded to the objections with respectful gestures. Goldberg replied to the outrage by expressing remorse and by clarifying her point. Rogan answered the callouts with apologies and detailed explanations. Rowling engaged in a number of conversations with the transgender community online.

In another missed moment, the movement ignored their replies. As if with a taste for blood, the defenders continued to protest. In response to the initial outrage, ABC News caved and suspended Goldberg for two weeks. Rowling got death threats and cultural backlash. During the protest against Rogin, several musicians joined Neil Young and pulled their music from Spotify.

From Missed Moments to Maturity

As a result, many criticized the movement for having a “mob mentality”. Others referred to "Cancel culture" as "toxic". Criticisms often pit the movement against free speech. Ross’s NYTimes article recognizes the missed moments in the movement and suggests that people “call-in” instead of “call-out”.

Cancel culture misses moments but matures. Many that still support the cause renamed the movement. Instead of "Cancel Culture", they use "Call-Out Culture". In a "Call-out", complaints focus on the comments, but back away from the person. The criticisms don't demand that the public figures get fired. With the use of "calling-out", the movement may be seeking to foster more healthy dialogue.

It Wasn't Not All Bad

There have been gains. The online protests of the "callout culture" created an opportunity for organizations to raise awareness of their missions. Through the discussions on television and online, the general public learned about minority concerns and needs. Also, the Right to Free Speech was strengthened.

The Goldberg incident reminded many about the Holocaust. The public was informed that Jewish people were targeted as a race during the Holocaust. The back-and-forths between Rowling and the transgender community introduced people to the effects of microaggressions. Joe Rogan's fans might now be less inclined to joke around with the “n-word”.

Individuals and groups expressed themselves. Celebrities and public figures shared their points of view. The general public had the opportunity to learn from the exchanges. Through the process, the movement challenged The Right to Free Speech. Still, free speech was reasserted and strengthened in the end. Ultimately, the general public benefitted from the voicing of various points of view.

Cheers to democracy. Thank you for reading. Double thanks for following me here.

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J. Jurout gives voice to reason as The Happy Centrist in an honest presentation of national news.

Metuchen, NJ
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