Cancel Culture is a buzzword we still hear, mostly in right-winged media, but who cancels whom? What does “canceling” someone even mean?
The verb “canceling” was first used in the 1981 Chic album Take It Off in the song “Your Love Is Cancelled.” This song compared breaking up with someone to canceling a TV show. In 1991 the film New Jack City used the same phrase to “cancel” a woman. This movie introduced the term “canceled” into AAVE. As we know, many AAVE phrases have become mainstream due to the internet. By 2019 mainstream Americans began using “cancel” when talking about people or celebrities they no longer wish to support due to bad behavior.
Who decides who is canceled when it comes to cancel culture?
There isn’t a master list of what is canceled and what is. What cancel culture has done is amplify, mostly company and celebrity, behavior and allow the public to know about it. If an individual chooses not to support that individual or company due to their bad behavior, those who agree will cancel that individual or company.
Canceling isn’t new
Just because social media has given something a name doesn’t mean that idea hasn’t existed for years. Many Christians do not support movies or TV shows that have a message that is unwholesome or provocative. The Catholic Church forced the Motion Picture Association to create the Hayes Code and control the type of movies made by filmmakers for over fifty years.
In the 2020s, people show who companies support in elections, racist tweets, or sexist actions and hold those people or companies accountable. As we have seen, canceling doesn’t last forever, but as we have also seen, many celebrities will spend millions of dollars in court to clear their name.
Most on the left no longer use the phrase “cancel” or “cancel culture” since the right has taken that phrase and convinced their disciples it means censorship. It doesn’t mean that celebrities or companies are no longer being called out for their bad behavior. We know that Disney gave millions of dollars to Trump and then said they were against Desantis’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill when they realized it would hurt their bottom line.
At the end of the day, those who are against “cancel culture” will tell you to “do your own research,” they don’t want you to tell your friends what you find out unless it fits their worldview.