The 'Cancel Culture'

Jot the Dot Dot

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I'm sure aspects of this have been covered in other threads, but I thought I'd start one specifically about the 'Cancel Culture' that has caught so many people in it's net. Two recent examples are interesting because one affected a 'Woman of Color' for a homophobic facebook post she made https://bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-47666769 , the other, a liberal Jewish woman over a 'Blackface' sketch she did years ago https://cnn.com/2019/08/12/entertainment/sarah-silverman-blackface-scli-intl/index.html
 

essence_of_soy

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Finding Dory has been catching a lot of heat for her friendship with George Bush as well. Here's hoping she isn't swimming with sharks.
 

allezfred

#EpidemiologistsNotEconomists
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Socialising with the man largely responsible for destabilising the Middle East and causing millions of people to suffer in the process isn’t a good look for Ellen.

That’s even before we get to the anti-LGBT agenda the Bush administration pursued.

Words and actions have consequences. Dismissing that as “cancel culture” usually suggests that those using the term have a fear that their past actions might catch up with them.
 

MacMadame

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Words and actions have consequences. Dismissing that as “cancel culture” usually suggests that those using the term have a fear that their past actions might catch up with them.
I agree.

I don't think "cancel culture" is a real thing anyway. If you look at various people who someone has declared "canceled," most of them are doing just fine. They aren't canceled at all. Before social media, these same people would have gotten mired in controversy, disappeared for a while (possibly after apologizing) and then quietly returned to the spotlight after things died down. And that's exactly what happens today.

As an example, some lame YouTuber got into a drama-filled controversy and lost 2 million of his viewers. OMG, he'd been canceled! Except he still had about 7 or 8 million viewers and over time he got 1 million new viewers. I'm sorry, but a guy with 9 million people subscribed to his YouTube cancel is hardly "canceled."

It's just people who think social media is real life being melodramatic IMO. And also a way for people to try to minimalize other people's bad or questionable behavior.
 

MsZem

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I'm not sure how much overlap there is between cancel culture and callout culture (is it the same thing?) as well as online shaming more generally. We tend to think of famous people who are able to bounce back from being "cancelled", but this kind of thing can affect regular people, too, for offending not just people on the left but also on the right.

Are there bigger problems in the world? Yes. But online shaming can have real consequences and affect people's jobs, friendships, and mental health, often for infractions that don't merit more than a bit of criticism. I don't feel comfortable dismissing this as an issue entirely.
 

MacMadame

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But online shaming can have real consequences and affect people's jobs, friendships, and mental health, often for infractions that don't merit more than a bit of criticism.
The answer to online shaming you can't handle is to get off social media. It's not required to live a full life. Especially if you aren't famous and aren't trying to sell something (even if just yourself).

The times it really impacts people is when they do something beyond the pale. Like march with Nazis screaming Jews will not replace us.
 

MsZem

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The times it really impacts people is when they do something beyond the pale. Like march with Nazis screaming Jews will not replace us.
Like taking a picture in poor taste at Arlington National Cemetery, which was a very bad idea but doesn't justify what happened to the woman who did it. Like tweeting something stupid about the murder of a police officer and getting the Breitbart crowd after you in real life. In both cases, what was posted was out of line, but the reaction was wildly disproportionate to the offense.

If it were just fascist types who were being shamed, I wouldn't have written my previous post.
 

jeffisjeff

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Socialising with the man largely responsible for destabilising the Middle East and causing millions of people to suffer in the process isn’t a good look for Ellen.

That’s even before we get to the anti-LGBT agenda the Bush administration pursued.
I think part of the issue with this Ellen-W controversy is that W's legacy has been rehabilitated in recent years. In a way it is understandable - compared to Trump, he is seen as a "good" Republican. But we need to reject Trump as the baseline for comparison and remember with W actually did (and tried to do) to this country.
 

MsZem

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Does burning books count as cancel culture?


 

nimi

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Oh no, being a public bigot (like Forstater) might make the non-profit you work for decide that they don't want to renew your contract because you are being an embarrassment to them! Oh no, publicly supporting a bigot (like Rowling did) might get you criticized on the internet! We are truly living in the darkest times! :rolleyes:

Btw, Vox published an article that gives more context than the CNN one, and you can read the Forstater v CGD Judgement (that Rowling grossly misrepresented in her tweet) here...
...or for a TL;DR version, check this twitter thread
"People cannot expect to be protected (by law) if their core belief involves violating others dignity and/or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them."
 

VGThuy

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I have to say that I am very happy with the direction this thread has gone. So many excellent posts and points made.

And yes, Ellen deserved all the criticism. Even in her explanation video, she just spent most of the time Name-dropping her celeb friends and making light of the very real criticisms thus showing her true colors. She has become one of the elites and embraces that status. To hell with the little people except if she can use them to do safe fluff pieces for her show.

JK Rowling is an author so her personal beliefs are a huge part of the messages and themes she conveys in her work and if those transphobic and unscientific message is what she believes in, then of course people will start not only reconsidering her but her work as well in the new context she has given us. Also, she’s the one who put herself out there as a champion of the people, so when she starts being part of the oppression and using damaging rhetoric and language, well, she should not be surprised if she starts losing the pedestal so many people put her on thanks to her work and her own effort to make fans think of her that way.

Luckily for me, I was already turned off by the series thanks to that horrifically written play, realizing her true lack of research and analytical skills when she attempted to write about an American wizarding school and thought she implemented actual American history correctly only to show how badly she understood anything especially race relations (not to mention co-opting Native American culture and beliefs), and me already thinking (thanks to Prancer’s critiques many many years ago) that she’s promoting a classist, elitist philosophy with the whole idea of segregated special schools and keeping magic and that whole world hush hush from “muggles” and that being the default acceptable setting for her characters, even the “progressive” ones.
 
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MacMadame

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she’s promoting a classist, elitist philosophy with the whole idea of segregated special schools and keeping magic and that whole world hush hush from “muggles” and that being the default acceptable setting for her characters, even the “progressive” ones.
I thought the point of keeping magic secret was to avoid persecution? That doesn't seem classist to me.

There are a lot of good concepts in the Harry Potter books but they aren't perfect and JK Rowling is just a person and has flaws like everyone. Her disappointing response to this particular controversy doesn't negate the good things in her books though.
 

genevieve

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This isn't exactly related to this topic, but kinda fits, because he has been more effectively cancelled than most:

Kevin Spacey has lost his fcuking mind.
 

VGThuy

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I thought the point of keeping magic secret was to avoid persecution? That doesn't seem classist to me.

There are a lot of good concepts in the Harry Potter books but they aren't perfect and JK Rowling is just a person and has flaws like everyone. Her disappointing response to this particular controversy doesn't negate the good things in her books though.
Honestly, I find issue with the idea that the message is that the best way to avoid persecution is to constantly hide and not even inform the majority of people you exist or to fight against that persecution. Many people cannot hide and don’t have useful and powerful magic on their side to help them combat things. Also, adopt a somewhat snotty attitude about it and keep your powerful and useful magic to oneself for those muggles’ own good? Also, didn’t JK write in the books that during the witch trials, the witches would only be inconvenienced by the fires during the witch burnings when it actually tickled them so they were more annoyed about it than anything else and decided to separate because the masses of non-magical people were just all too ignorant and dumb?
 

MacMadame

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Honestly, I find issue with the idea that the message is that the best way to avoid persecution is to constantly hide and not even inform the majority of people you exist or to fight against that persecution.
I didn't say it was a good idea. I said it wasn't classist.
 

VGThuy

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I didn't say it was a good idea. I said it wasn't classist.
The way it was explained to me, it was that Rowling adopted a sort of paternal condescending view of muggles in her stories and Hogwarts and the whole separatist ideology mirrors a lot of these elite British boarding schools where the aristocracy and the like attend. Replace muggles with all classes beneath the aristocracy from the socially mobile to middle classes to working classes and To lower classes. And replace magic ability with titles. Of course Rowling is not part of the aristocracy herself and she herself was very poor. However, I kind of see that happening with the ultimate separatist theme of the whole series.
 

NinjaTurtles

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I think that interpretation doesn’t align at all with the overarching themes of the series, particularly Deathly Hallows, wherein the ideas of “Magic is Might” and purity testing based upon bloodlines is heavily villainized.

ETA: the Statue of Secrecy is also routinely criticized in the books as well, because of the undertones of classism and wizarding hubris.
 

MacMadame

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I think interpreting them staying secret as classist is quite the stretch. You can't equate being magical with titles since being magical is an ability and while it's something you are born with, it's not something that automatically gets passed down. In fact, the whole metaphor falls apart quite easily. I think being magical is more like being left-handed than having a title.
 

VGThuy

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You can still be classist and elitist based on abilities. I mean often times people use “biological” arguments among others to explain why they are better than others and why it’s ok to separate oneself from the rest and treat them differently and be treated differently. Often times people in power just thought they were smarter and better mannered aka equipped to lead and never questioned it or if they were questioned they would use their education and whatever evolutionary sort of principles they had to defend the system.

I mean yes, the books criticized forms of bigotry and hubris but only to an extent. Ultimately they are still keeping the wizarding world separate for the muggles own good. Even Hermione’s treatment of her parents during the Deathly Hallows shows that. Alter their memories rather than explain to them what’s going on.
 

NinjaTurtles

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Deathly Hallows suggests that it’s not the separation that is at the heart of elitism or classism in the world. I’m not fully convinced it’s even a symptom of it. Grindelwald wanted to end the Statute of Secrecy after all.

The Statute of Secrecy was established and subsequently maintained due to a culture of fear in reaction to strong anti-witchcraft sentiment from muggles. It’s rarely framed in Harry Potter as being for the muggles’ own good, but instead wizards’ convenience...to avoid persecution and abuse as a resource to solve muggle problems.

The power imbalance argument isn’t presented much in the canon. I do think there is supposed to be a hint of growing progressive wizard thought of integrating wizard and muggle ingenuity for mutual benefit. Dumbledore and the Weasleys have several lines pointing out muggle superiority and advancements compared to wizards. If all we had was Philosopher’s Stone, I think the ~dangerous message of elitism motived segregation~ argument could be made, but I don’t find that very persuasive based on the totality of the series.

The reality is that it’s a narrative device used to encourage imaginative young minds to believe magic does exist in our real world. Working around the counter arguments for winks and chuckles like it’s a Tim Allen The Santa Clause movie.

JKR‘s Twitter antics and related media presence leave a lot to be desired regardless.
 

Andora

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This isn't exactly related to this topic, but kinda fits, because he has been more effectively cancelled than most:

Kevin Spacey has lost his fcuking mind.
Couldn't happen to a better guy.
 

skatemomaz

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You can still be classist and elitist based on abilities. I mean often times people use “biological” arguments among others to explain why they are better than others and why it’s ok to separate oneself from the rest and treat them differently and be treated differently. Often times people in power just thought they were smarter and better mannered aka equipped to lead and never questioned it or if they were questioned they would use their education and whatever evolutionary sort of principles they had to defend the system.

I mean yes, the books criticized forms of bigotry and hubris but only to an extent. Ultimately they are still keeping the wizarding world separate for the muggles own good. Even Hermione’s treatment of her parents during the Deathly Hallows shows that. Alter their memories rather than explain to them what’s going on.
Hermione altered her parents memories to protect them from the Death Eaters. It wasn’t done to avoid explanations
 

VGThuy

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Hermione altered her parents memories to protect them from the Death Eaters. It wasn’t done to avoid explanations
I don't want to hijack this thread, so if you want we can take this HP discussion to PM or all of us who have been discussing this can discuss it in the HP thread. I think @MacMadame and @NinjaTurtles have given me a lot to think about, but I still think the overarching attitude with her parents and non-magical folk in general and the way JK writes them is troubling to me and I can see why others have criticized it. And I think erasing her parents' memory is part of the dismissive attitude towards non-magical people the series tends to have throughout. There have been so many works covering similar themes that don't treat people with that same paternalistic attitude despite their limited abilities. To be fair, a lot of it is recent and probably came from critiques of prior works that have done that. Like don't hate on them but don't make them a part of our culture unless they have magic themselves or one of us marries one and produces an offspring who is one of us.

Anyway, to go back on topic with JK and her attitudes towards transgender people, here's an article that talks about her other books and how she has more explicitly written trans characters with contempt:

JK Rowling's Transphobia Wasn't Hard to Find, She Wrote a Book About It

There's a viciousness in Rowling's descriptions and characterizations in the Galbraith books from time to time. But her descriptions of Pippa, the features and mannerisms she chooses to focus on and emphasize when writing from Strike's POV (generally one of our two reliable narrators in this world) are consistently objectifying and othering in ways that are very familiar from the ways transphobes describe and debate the validity of trans men and women's identities.

Critic and VICE contributor Katelyn Burns wrote about this last year, using this particular sequence to contextualize some of Rowling's other statements and behavior on Twitter and to persuasively make the case that Rowling is transphobic in very familiar and common ways. She writes:

In the scene, a trans woman, Pippa, follows and tries to stab the protagonist, Cormoran Strike, before getting trapped in Strike’s office. After demanding Pippa’s ID, her trans status is revealed and her visible Adam’s apple is noted, while it's noted that her hands were jammed in her pockets. Pippa tries several times to escape the office before Strike finally says, “‘If you go for that door one more time I’m calling the police and I’ll testify and be glad to watch you go down for attempted murder. And it won’t be fun for you Pippa,’ he added. ‘Not pre-op.’”
The piece goes further into JK Rowling's penchant for "punching down", fetishizing black skin color, and treating a working class character (while trying to recreate a "lower class" accent) with some disdain and "ugly" and "alien".

I still can't help but think if those are the values she holds, then I can see it seeping into her work. My main point when I brought up my JK Rowling criticism is that her personal feelings are a part of her and as an author her works will reflect them. And I better understand how the general inclusive nature of her work is actually very limited and narrow. It's very basic "don't be a bigot" and be more "welcoming" message, which is good, but when it comes to details and execution, I feel the message is limited.

However, the good thing about books in general is that authorial intent, though a major and dominating factor, is not the only factor and readers can take the good and inspiring parts of a work and run with it. And JK Rowling has given a great base to work off from, especially when she has her great moments of insight and clarity. Lord knows it's been happening with Little Women forever.
 
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MacMadame

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However, the good thing about books in general is that authorial intent, though a major and dominating factor, is not the only factor and readers can take the good and inspiring parts of a work and run with it.
Yep. And that's one reason that when JK Rowling makes some pronouncement about the Harry Potter series that tries to re-write things after the fact, I just roll my eyes and tell her (in my mind) to f off. Other people act as if everything she says has to be taken as gospel because she's the author but I think once you write something, it belongs to the readers as much as to you.
 

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