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Opinion

The Cancel culture is toxic. It is time for us to resist it | HT analysis – analysis

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When Joaquin Phoenix took the stage at the 92nd Academy Awards, fans expected an eccentric speech. Phoenix received the Best Actor for his performance in jester. In a speech that encompasses everything, he spoke about the urgency of fixing the world, for the peaceful coexistence of all living beings, and concluded with the importance of giving second chances.

He said: “I have been a scoundrel in my life. I have been selfish … and ungrateful, but many of you in this room have given me a second chance. And I think that is when we are at our best, when we support each other Not when we cancel ourselves for past mistakes, but when we help each other grow … when we are guided to redemption: that is the best of humanity. “

His words echoed in people all over the world. He did not mention a trend that has become fashionable; he was not worried about a new controversy; He was referring to the culture of social networks well-intentioned, although wrong, to exclude people: the Culture of Cancel.

The information age has helped make our conversations quick, easy and effortless. But as we learn more from each other (everyone and everything is online), we are even quicker to say goodbye. We must know, in unequivocal terms, the type of people we want to support and the ideologies they support, but where should we draw the line for certain behavior?

There are various degrees of this culture. For example, in the collective conviction of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and other perpetrators of violence (which would not have been possible without social networks as a tool to amplify voices), he criticized the system that has allowed this behavior with impunity for too long . This was a long time ago. However, it is with smaller and less consistent actions that we see the toxicity in the cancellation of a person or thing.

An Oscar without a host is an example in itself. Last year, when comedian Kevin Hart was the host, people turned to social media to “cancel” him for anti-Semitic jokes he published years ago. This forced him to move away from the event. When actress Emma Watson made problematic statements about her understanding of feminism, seen as non-inclusive, she was also “canceled.” In a deeply divided society, “cancel” Hart and Watson solve centennial problems around race and gender? Not quite. It is the equivalent of putting a band aid (impropriety) on a gunshot wound (gender and racial violence).

When Tarana Burke founded the MeToo movement in 2007, and then saw it reduced to a social media search to “cancel men,” he expressed disappointment. And his reason was clear. Justice is best served when it is restorative, not retributive. The movement must help combat bad practices that affect society. This requires a deeper look at what perpetuates injustice. “Canceling men” in social networks does not solve the problem of sexual violence in our patriarchal societies. It does not help the victims. It puts names in a toxic culture that we cannot (and should not) forget. But for real change, you must go beyond the online world to our homes, workplaces and communities.

This is a harder ship to handle, because canceling culture is the product of an unequal society. It is an expression of anguish and exhaustion in the face of the injustices of society. That is why we must ask ourselves: how should an imperfect and imperfect society respond and not react to oppression and inequality? In our quest for freedom, are we building closer fences to keep people away?

In its current form, canceling culture has no place for reform. It is exclusive, often disproportionate and divisive, and in effect, defeats its own purpose. If we allow it to continue, we, as imperfect human beings who navigate through rapidly changing norms and social conventions, will only find ourselves more separated and alone. As Barack Obama said about the culture of cancellation, “if all he is doing is throwing stones, he probably won’t get that far.”

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The opinions expressed are personal.

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