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Cancel culture has become conservatives’ punching bag

Cancel culture has become conservatives’ punching bag

Cancel culture has become conservatives’ punching bag
July 21
14:00 2022

“Am I going to get canceled for that?” Whether it’s the punchline of a comedian lamenting his free speech or a genuinely concerned celebrity, the use of that question has skyrocketed in the past few years. Even though the idea of “canceling” is rooted in holding celebrities accountable, the cancel culture movement has become an easy strawman for those opposed to its ideals.

The MeToo movement and similar social calls to action popularized the idea of ostracizing figureheads who behave inappropriately. The concept was fair and just: speak up about misconduct and end the careers of those who abuse their power.

With the power of social media, those who lacked the platform celebrities have could garner enough attention to have their voices heard. Quickly though, cancel culture spiraled and found colloquial use for anyone who said or did anything deemed out-of-touch. 

Since then, the idea of canceling has become more of a gray area and that blurring of lines became the target of conservative media. Social media enables the public to speak freely and directly to corporations, which makes it easy to identify public outcry, especially when said backlash leads to controversy. 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson lambasted publishing company Simon & Schuster for withdrawing the publication of a Missouri senator’s book after the senator expressed support for the rioters on Jan. 6. Carlson suggested the company buckled under the weight of a liberal mob before promoting his own book published by the same company. The blatant logical fallacy represents a larger trend among those who feel their free speech is in danger due to the cancel culture boogeyman.

A simple book cancellation seems like small fish compared to having your career ruined. What makes accountability so hard to achieve is that book cancellations and jail time both fall under the umbrella of cancel culture in the eyes of its detractors. When you confuse inconveniences and legal action, you get in the way of accountability. 

The very reasons that celebrity accountability is needed are the reasons that cancel culture is so heavily ridiculed. Once people are convinced consequences for an ill-timed comment are the same as sexual assault, it’s easy to turn them against any kind of accountability under the assumption that one will lead to another. Media conglomerates as big as Fox News portray cancel culture as a dangerous ideology, defining it as “the fear of being ‘canceled’ due to unpopular political and cultural opinions or unsubstantiated allegations…” 

The overlap between public figures speaking out against cancel culture and those accused of wrongdoing is huge. People who commit vile acts appreciate the security of not having consequences. By keeping the status quo as is, the imbalance of power remains. 

Even when a celebrity admits to an atrocious act that warrants their removal from the public sphere, they can always bounce back. Comedian Louis C.K won a Grammy just three years after several women accused him of sexual assault. If someone who openly admitted their wrongdoing is free from major career injury, then why is cancel culture allegedly so dangerous?

Accountability is absolutely needed. Men like Harvey Weinstein can only be brought to justice if there is a platform available for people to voice their concerns, and the best of cancel culture provides that. 

There is a case to be made for some of the more unnecessary elements of cancel culture. The localization of the celebrity-centric phenomena has turned small-time Twitter threads into bloodbaths over less concerning issues such as infidelity. As bad as it is, it’s not quite the same level as bigotry or racism. These here-and-there instances are a natural response to any social movement. 

The term “cancel culture” has been weaponized against those who are trying to empower and give a voice to victims. Sensationalizing basic accountability as anything more than social responsibility is a blatant attempt at shifting the blame to victims. No matter what you call it, accountability isn’t going away.

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Ayden Runnels

Ayden Runnels

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