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July 22, 2018

The Problem with Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture. Even if you don’t know the term, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – a celebrity is terrible online and we declare them cancelled.

Most of the time, it’s a worthy target. A continuously gross celebrity (like Roseanne Barr) who spews intolerance and hate. Someone’s who has proven that over the years they haven’t changed and remain just as gross, if not worse.

Sometimes though, you run into a situation where someone said or did a lot of stupid things when they were younger – but have grown up and apologized for what they’d done/said previously as they’ve gained perspective. Yes, I’m talking about James Gunn.

I’m not defending what he said in those tweets – they were pretty heinous, and not funny. But it’s hard not to see that the James Gunn who wrote those tweets isn’t the James Gunn of today. He’s far from perfect, even today. But he has definitely grown as a human being. So getting him fired for things that were already on record and apologized for is pretty ridiculous. (It’s also incredibly suspicious when you look at the people who headed up the internet mob.)

I see cancel culture a lot with sports. Young players who have money and no oversight, tweeting whatever stupid thing pops into their head – things that are often homophobic or misogynistic (due to the homophobic and misogynistic cultures in pro sports). And they get “canceled”. Many of them do grow up, learn from their mistakes and get involved with charity and more important things. But they drag along the mistakes of their youth with them.

Shutting out horrible people is great. Stopping the excuse of boys will be boys is fantastic. There’s no shortage of talented singers, actors, writers, musicians or athletes out there. But you do have to allow people to grow up and make amends.

10 years ago, I was… okay, I was an adult. I was pretty smart online, but I messed up now and then – and had the benefit of friends who would call me on my mistakes. It would be nice if we could afford people the same mistakes.

(On the flip side, it would also be nice if people would actually acknowledge that long beloved actors/creators are terrible and stop hiring them. At least be consistent with their reactions.)

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