Cancel Culture

Call me crazy, but I don’t want to experience art from pedophiles no matter how talented they might be. That goes for R. Kelly, Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen and, yes, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Touch a kid, get canceled.

But what exactly does that mean? Cancel culture, according to University of Michigan professor Lisa Nakamura via Wikipedia, is “a cultural boycott” and "an agreement not to amplify, signal boost, give money to. People talk about the attention economy — when you deprive someone of your attention, you’re depriving them of a livelihood.” Sure, the use of the word “livelihood” makes the stakes seem awfully high, but when we’re talking about multimillionaires, I feel a little less concerned about their well-being once their careers plummet (looking at you, Louis C.K.). 

What are the qualifications to cancel someone, though? Nearly everyone growing up in the age of social media has something posted that could get them in trouble, and some of them are undeniably worse than others. But there’s a big difference between a bad joke you made when you were 13 or royally — and, let’s face it, drunkenly — fucking up one date (cough, Aziz Ansari isn’t that bad, cough) and, say, starting a cult and imprisoning a harem of young women. Sure, I’m going to miss “Trapped in the Closet” and the “Ignition” remix, but I can ironically listen to a hip hopera that wasn’t made by a predator. Seriously, there are more than you’d think. “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” from 2001, starring Queen Bey herself and Mos Def, is a thing that exists. While I (regrettably) haven’t seen it, it sounds at least 27 percent as absurd as “Trapped in the Closet.” 

If for nothing more than our own peace of mind, we can vote with our dollar. Personally, I’m boycotting the (best) radio station in Missoula, 104.1, because they keep playing R. Kelly. That being said, the beloved cinematic masterpiece that is “Space Jam” fades in with “I Believe I Can Fly,” and I’m not about to boycott Looney Tunes. My point is, we all have the right to pick who we support based on whatever line we draw for ourselves. Of course, if we’re going to spend our money on only moral causes, we’ll have to forego all corporations and grow our own crops, so that’s something to keep in mind as well. But with our entertainment, which is an option and not a necessity, we can all choose for ourselves what messages we want to support morally, financially and socially. 

And an important PSA, y’all: There is a difference between “canceling” someone and “doxing” them, or “revealing and publicizing records of an individual, which were previously private or difficult to obtain.” (Thanks again, Wikipedia). Don’t like someone’s tweets? Unfollow them. Do not tell them to kill themselves, do not call for vindication on Twitter and for the love of all that is holy, do not share their address on the internet. I love a good “Barbecue Becky” video as much as the next guy, but the minute people are no longer safe in their own homes or choose to take their own lives is the minute we’ve gone too far.