The only problem with ‘cancel culture’ is the name

In a week where some politicians have continued their open push against “woke”* culture and people are bemoaning how they have been cancelled (even though they’re doing so from a breakfast TV show with literally millions of people watching), I think it’s only fair that I wade gracefully into the debate like a rhino at a picnic and give you my two cents (that’s about 1.78p for the brexiteers).

*Imagine fighting against being inclusive and kind to people. Most would just call that empathy.

I’m not a fan of blogs that hide their key message at the end of 1500 words so I’ll be up front with what I think:


Was your book deal cancelled with a specific publisher because you were openly racist? That’s your fault. That’s not the result of people kicking up a stink because they don’t like you, that’s literally your doing and entirely down to your own actions. You signed a contract, you broke that contract, you lose your deal.

Are you angry at people because comments you made mocking disabled people led to your sacking? That’s the consequences of your actions. That’s a ‘you’ problem.

The major problem that I have with the notion of cancel culture is the name. It makes it sound frivolous and, worse, that the problem is with those reporting and highlighting the problem than those actually doing the bad things. And by calling it a culture it makes it seem like it’s a small group of people responsible for it, who are going around doing this as part of a trend or fad, with no substance behind it other than trying to be cool to fit in with their friends. Which is a little bit absolutely titting wrong.

Blaming cancel culture for your career going down the toilet is a bizarre and yet surprisingly effective way of shifting the blame from yourself onto an amorphous, faceless group of people who are definitely over-sensitive and one-hundred percent looking to getting offended. It makes the oppressor suddenly appear like the victim and they can demand the sympathy they think they deserve, as well as a seat on the TV show of choice to talk about how they’ve been deplatformed.

If you rephrase it from “I’m a victim of cancel culture” to “I’m a victim of the consequences of my actions” it’s suddenly a lot harder to feel sorry for the person in question (and it’s infinitely more accurate too).

As with all things in the public eye, it’s purely a matter of image control and PR, and that kind of (read: absolutely) annoys me. But worse than that, it saddens me. When people are acting like dicks we should be allowed to be speak out and criticise those actions. When people do wrong they should experience the repercussions of those wrongs. Without that, no one would learn. I’ve done some and said things that I regret and when I recall them I shudder, we all have – but without those learning moments I wouldn’t have been able to evaluate what I’d done, who I’d hurt and how I’d hurt them and grow from it.

Words are powerful. Using them to spin the story to make the oppressor the oppressed and those calling for justice the bullies is dangerous.

Let’s stop saying ‘so-and-so was cancelled’ and start saying ‘so-and-so suffered the consequences of their actions’. It’s more accurate.

Now, the obvious elephant in the room is when toxic fandoms do try very hard to cancel someone who is merely rumoured to have done something wrong or is simply accused without evidence or the full context of the facts (see the brief time the Geoff Ramsey was embroiled in the Ryan Haywood scandal over at RoosterTeeth) or even just because they don’t like the direction that the character has gone in(????). That’s problematic and I’m not qualified to think of a solution or comment, I’m not really qualified to talk about the name and the public relations nightmare that it caused, but I’m far more okay chatting about that.


Published by Adam Unwin

Yeah, I write stuff occasionally, make things up on stage, and like saying words other people have written in a dramatic way.

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