The harmfulness of cancel culture has taken a new turn for the worse after another trending incident on Twitter involving the comedian Dave Chappelle
Over the last few years, Twitter has birthed a new phenomenon known as “cancel” culture. ‘Canceling’ someone usually involves a trending issue on a public figure and making them accountable for their past actions.
The idea was brought up again when the new Dave Chappelle special, “Sticks & Stones,” was released recently. People immediately took to Twitter to point out Chappelle’s offenses and many reviewers thrashed the comedian for his insensitivity. The accumulation of these events resulted in people calling for Chappelle to be ‘canceled.’
In Chapelle’s previous special on Netflix, just a couple years back, he said “we’re living in a time where there’s got to be more cultural sensitivity.”
However, in this special, Chapelle brings up an interesting question: has cancel culture has gone too far? Furthermore, if it has, is it appropriate for people to go digging up the past to look for remarks or events that are damaging to a public figure’s career? Some of these events or remarks are taken out of context and end up causing a trend on Twitter with skewed ideas.
According to an article from CNBC, Stand-up comedian Keith Bergman “said that he believes ‘Sticks and Stones’ won’t harm Chappelle’s career. If anything, he believes that the mean spirited and callous nature of the material was designed to keep viewers engaged, even after they’ve finished watching.”
Comedy at its core is meant to be laughed off and not taken seriously. The subject matter of comedic shows are designed to rile up the audience, and that’s exactly what Chapelle exhibits.
According to an article in Salon by Melanie McFarland, “The entirety of “Sticks & Stones” is structured around such logic: by signaling to those who are true believers in his genius that it’s all just a joke, only words, this earns his ability to ‘punch down,’ as the parlance goes.”
This was not the first time a public figure has been ‘canceled.’ Similar events have happened to comedian Sarah Silverman and director James Gunn.
Multiple hashtags have trended involving other celebrities, including #ShawnMendesisoverparty or #HarryStylesisoverparty in an attempt to get these figures out of the limelight. In Gunn’s case, the cast of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films rallied together and fought successfully for his reinstatement. This was an example of cancel culture going too far. The statements Gunn made in the past did not represent his present viewpoints.
Cancel culture’s failure in this situation shed light on its shortcomings: it fails to account for the growth and maturity that comes with time.
Like James Gunn, Sarah Silverman was ‘canceled’ when her stand up special of her face painted black resurfaced. Silverman fired back by stating her own concerns with the repercussions of cancel culture. “I think it’s really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it. If you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once, everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion. It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.”
The circumstance caused the comedian to be fired from a prospective role. This shows the out of context information that Twitter users wield against these public figures can have a detrimental impact on their careers.
According to an article by Dani Di Placido in Forbes, “cancel culture comes across as disproportionately harsh, the “cancellers” often ignoring context for the sake of action, but critique of cancel culture tends to caricature the phenomenon”
These cases involved someone’s past mistakes returning to haunt them and cause major controversy. Cancel culture has caused many instances of firing and attacking individuals. The boundaries of sensitivity are getting thinner and thinner, making small remarks seem massively offensive.
Is it time to cancel “cancel” culture?