Process Post #12: Today’s Cancel Culture
As we talked about in lecture and tutorials this week, we came to a consensus that the cancel culture of today is far different than it ever has been. Although the press, prior to social media, has long been full of gossip and rumours (see: The Crown on Netflix), social media has fuelled a whole new league of directed harassment, rumour feeding, disinformation spread, and more.
The example brought up in class about the recent “cancelling” of Chris Pratt is telling of the situation. Chris was dutifully being held accountable for his partaking in a openly homophobic church and the fact he likely voted for Trump in 2016 and likely did so again in 2020. While at the same time, this discourse was met with the “you can only have 3 Hollywood Chrises tweet” where Pine, Hemsworth and Evans beat out Pratt (by a lot) in a series of threads and quote tweets.
While this “battle of the Chrises” has long been a joke online and in the media and press junkets, many celebrities took this “cyberbullying” of Pratt to heart.
Sure, I can get on board with the fact that pitting anyone against each other just because they have the same first name is a bit ridiculous and no one should get bullied for it; HOWEVER, when you’re also being held accountable for homophobic actions of your church and not actively not supporting a racist xenophobe, then the criticism you face might be a little more valid.
I found it very disheartening and frustrating to see some of my favourite actors come out in droves to support Pratt. Robert Downey Junior and Mark Ruffalo being just two to name. I like to think that RDJ and Ruffalo simply didn’t know what Chris was actually being “cancelled” for, but we’ll never know. Either way, it doesn’t matter. When you have anything over a couple thousand followers, you have a platform. They very well know that their fanbase ranges from young children to full adults. Going online and making big shiny statements about a friend of yours when they’re in hot steaming water should be pre-empted with some good ol’ research.
If Chris was being bullied for his name, sure you can call him a class act. But, should Chris be fairly called out for his church and political associations when it involves human rights? Yes. Should you defend him for that publicly when you have millions of followers criticizing Pratt for homophobia? Probably not.
Had people like RDJ and Ruffalo done their research prior to tweeting and instagramming, this situation would have likely just blown over and their public profiles not been harmed. There really was no need for them to publicly defend Pratt for a little Twitter joke and then get mistaken for being homophobe defenders. It’s times like these where I seriously question if those guys have anyone helping them with social media, because when you have nearly 50 million followers you really should have a second opinion on everything you post…
Now let’s talk about why this was a short, 24 hour news cycle cancel event that will never provoke real change.
Will Chris lose his millions of dollars being raked in every time he steps foot onto a Marvel set? No. Maybe one day but certainly not because of this cancel event. In fact, most influencers who actually should have their platforms taken away never do. I could list 10+ people who have more than 10 million followers or subscribers on various platforms who have done illegal and/or highly immoral things. Have they had their name thrown into a #__isoverparty trend on Twitter? Yes. Did that change anything? Maybe a few people stopped supporting them but a few out of 10+ million only results in a few less pennies in their paycheque next month.
Nearly everyday some celebrity or influencer is in hot water. In most situations, accountability is necessary and not something I think we should shy away from. However, at the same time, I believe the only thing social media cancel culture really does right now is severely cyberbully the individual being cancelled but never really takes away their platform, the thing that gives them the power and influence they have in the world. Which in some cases, is the thing they can do the most harm with.