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  • - [Reporter] As cancel culture

  • is infiltrating everywhere.

  • And it doesn't even. - The way of me making change

  • - And this cancel culture. - Is be as judgemental as

  • possible about other people. - Cancel culture in a nutshell

  • Cancel culture actually. - Cancel culture.

  • - Freedom of speech. - Cancel culture.

  • (dramatic music)

  • - Let's talk about cancel culture.

  • I'm gonna assume you know that cancel culture is a form

  • of a boycott involving an individual.

  • Usually a celebrity, who is deemed to have

  • had problematic behavior

  • or who has said something questionable and controversial.

  • There have been countless videos and numerous takes

  • on why cancel culture itself has become problematic.

  • The way that we judge an entire flawed growing human being

  • by one moment in time taken out of that time

  • social context, thanks to social media and the internet.

  • Ironically enough, cancel cultures origins apparently come

  • from a misogynistic joke.

  • Possibly the first reference to canceling someone comes

  • with the 1991 film, "New Jack City".

  • In which Wesley Snipes plays a gangster named Nino Brown.

  • In one scene after his girlfriend breaks

  • down because of all the violence he's causing.

  • He dumps her by saying,

  • "Cancel that bitch, I'll buy another one."

  • Jump to 2010 when Lil Wayne referenced the film

  • and a line from his song, "I'm single".

  • "Yeah. I'm single, had to cancel that bitch like Nino."

  • This callback to the earlier sexist cancel joke

  • probably helped the phrase percolate for a while.

  • And then several decades later gained massive popularity

  • in 2018 and 2019 as evidenced by this Google trends data.

  • Of course, there are certain cancel people

  • who absolutely deserve to be stripped of their power

  • and made to pay the consequences of their actions.

  • If you're a serial rapist,

  • abuser, convicted pedophile, murderer

  • or someone who likes fucking cantaloupe

  • then you deserve to be canceled.

  • And more importantly, probably serve jail time.

  • 'Cause if you actually enjoy cantaloupe

  • you should not be free to walk the streets

  • and there's something incredibly wrong with you.

  • What I do wanna add

  • to the cancel culture conversation are three things.

  • One, how cancel culture is weaponized against others.

  • Two, how we weaponize cancel culture for ourselves

  • and three, how we can actually fix

  • this monster that we have created.

  • Though cancel culture began with good intentions

  • and undeniably has brought some predators to light.

  • We're now witnessing the intentional weaponization

  • of cancel culture against others.

  • Some people use this

  • to their own advantage, hurling accusations

  • in order to get revenge for personal matters.

  • If you're not familiar

  • with the Tati Westbrook and James Charles drama,

  • Westbrook insists her video calling James Charles

  • out a video that used language to insinuate

  • that he was a sexual predator,

  • was because Westbrook thought this was the only way

  • to get Charles the help he needed

  • and not because she was upset

  • that he promoted vitamins that weren't hers.

  • You can watch the hours

  • of videos if you want they'll dissect this topic to all hell

  • but I can tell you, it was about the vitamins.

  • This weaponization of cancel culture is not exclusive

  • to individual against individual.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Fandoms rally against properties they aren't satisfied with.

  • Most notably the "Sonic the Hedgehog" film.

  • Now, when the trailer came out in April of 2019

  • it was heavily roasted online

  • and had a nearly 50% dislike ratio.

  • And I mean, yeah, he looks horrifying.

  • The reaction of the internet was not wrong here.

  • I mean, he had a human freaking teeth for crying out loud

  • this a creepy boy, but the Twitter outrage mob

  • on Sonic was according to the Hollywood reporter.

  • So immediate and loud that Paramount pushed the release date

  • and had the VFX team redesign Sonic

  • with an appearance that matched the Sega games.

  • It's hard to argue that this weaponization

  • and power of the internet of Fandom was necessarily wrong

  • because when you compare the two designs

  • one is clearly way less creepy.

  • I think we can all agree that the redesign is cuter

  • and more approachable and feels less

  • like a creature who eats and enjoys cantaloupe.

  • But nonetheless, this is still weaponization.

  • And in this case, things came seemingly all

  • out for the better

  • given that it set the record for the biggest opening weekend

  • for a video game film in the United States

  • and Canada hauling an estimated 57 million.

  • I mean, Sonic ultimately ended

  • up grossing over 319 million worldwide.

  • And even with the redesign, the budget was about 95 million.

  • So this entire debacle had a happy ending

  • but I would argue that it sets a pretty dangerous precedent.

  • I mean, how much

  • of a say should audiences have over creative choices?

  • How many times have we seen movies canceled based

  • on their trailers, which by the way

  • most filmmakers have no control

  • over the way that their movie is marketed.

  • Usually, it's at the discretion of the film distributor

  • and we all know how misleading trailers can be

  • in order to get us to watch the movie.

  • And though this Sonic incident turned out well

  • we've seen outrage mobs in other contexts,

  • particularly academics.

  • And these mobs have often succeeded in silencing professors,

  • philosophers and journalists.

  • Take the case of Rebecca Tuvel

  • who in 2017, published an article, addressing the question

  • of transracialism, which was relevant at the time

  • because of the news coverage of Rachel Dolezal,

  • a white woman who claimed black identity.

  • In the paper, in defense of transracialism.

  • Tuvel examined the arguments

  • you use to defend a transgender identity

  • and applied these to the question of transracialism.

  • This is a very common technique among philosophers,

  • testing if reasoning used on one issue would apply equally

  • to a different issue that appeared to close parallel.

  • The negative social media response to Tuvel's article, huge.

  • An open letter with 500 signatures

  • which apparently was mostly signed by non-academics was sent

  • to the publication, demanding that the article be retracted

  • and it was, an unprecedented move.

  • Now the academic community itself largely supported Tuvel.

  • Pointing out how several statements

  • in the open letter were false and misleading

  • and did not reflect the actual content of Tuvel's paper.

  • The Intelligencer has a great breakdown

  • of Tuvel's paper that debunks most

  • of the assertions in the open letter

  • and I'll link it if you wanna read it.

  • Tuvel herself went on the record to say

  • that she had written the article from a place

  • of support for those with non-normative identities

  • because she saw transphobic logic lay

  • at the heart of the attacks against Dolezal.

  • Now I'm not here to comment on who was right

  • or who was wrong 'cause I'm not an academic

  • or a transgender person or a transracial person.

  • My only thought on the entire controversy

  • of this, is that if people found fault with it

  • they should have addressed it critically

  • with critical thought.

  • The level of outrage

  • and personal attacks that Tuvel faced was not warranted

  • for an academic article rooted in philosophical thought

  • and examination, because this is what philosophy is

  • for - to examine why we think the things we think

  • and bring different viewpoints to the discussion for debate.

  • But the culture we live in is moving at such a rapid speed.

  • What is socially acceptable

  • or not changes incredibly quickly.

  • The norms around gender

  • and identity are in flux and philosophy.

  • You know, they got a lot to examine right now.

  • And if we find fault with one of those assertions

  • we should make sure to note the context is

  • within academic speculation and address it accordingly

  • without threatening someone's life or family or employment

  • when they're doing the very thing

  • that they're employed to do.

  • Now, if Tuvel's article was like a hate piece

  • that attempted to invalidate trans identity

  • and was laid in with obscenities

  • like that's a different story, but it wasn't.

  • And I'm very curious how many people who signed

  • that open letter one, actually read Tuvel's article

  • and not just the provocative headline

  • and two, have the academic background

  • to even understand why the explorative article was written

  • as a parallel to trans racial identity

  • and the conclusions it made.

  • Now the weaponization of cancel culture

  • against a myriad of others seems like a no-brainer.

  • But the second, and I think more harmful effect is

  • that we weaponize it for ourselves.

  • We weaponize cancel cultures that we feel better

  • about ourselves, because feeling angry

  • and feeling superior and feeling outraged

  • feels fucking great.

  • - But I do get a sense sometimes now

  • among certain young people, and this is accelerated

  • by social media, there is this sense sometimes

  • of the way of me making change is to be as judgmental

  • as possible about other people.

  • And that's enough.

  • Like if I tweet or hashtag

  • about how you didn't do something right

  • or use the word wrong verb

  • or then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself.

  • 'Cause man, you see how woke I was?

  • I called you out

  • - Yeah. Calling someone out makes us feel real good.

  • It automatically places us above the person who did wrong.

  • The problem is, we forget

  • that we do wrong shit all the time.

  • - This idea of purity and you're never compromised

  • and you're always politically woke

  • and all that stuff you should get over that quickly.

  • (audience laughing) The world is messy.

  • There are ambiguities,

  • people who do really good stuff have flaws.

  • - There's a wonderful book it's called

  • "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" by Jon Ronson

  • and it examines the Twitter outrage mob

  • and the real life effects that this digital judge

  • jury and executioner have had.

  • Some of my favorite standout quotes are,

  • "The snowflake never needs to feel responsible

  • for the avalanche."

  • And, "We were creating a world where the smartest way

  • to survive is to be bland".

  • Cancel culture in its most extreme form

  • often forgets that we judge an entire person based

  • on one moment in time, out of context

  • of actually knowing that individual's background,

  • exposure, upbringing, and growth.

  • And if cancel culture's goal is to make people more aware

  • of their harmful behaviors.

  • Yeah. It's succeeding.

  • But if its ultimate goal is

  • for those harmful behaviors to be adjusted

  • so that people can move forward

  • in their lives and integrate that awareness and get rid

  • of that problematic behavior, then it's fucking failing.

  • I think Sarah Silverman put it the most eloquently

  • on an episode of her podcast.

  • - Christian Picciolini my friend,

  • who was a Neo-Nazi for years

  • since he was from 14 to, you know, into his twenties

  • late twenties maybe was the head

  • of a Neo Nazi, whatever KKK chapter, where he lived.

  • He has spent the last 30 years getting people

  • out of hate groups.

  • That's what he does.

  • But he went towards love.

  • He was 14, he was smoking a joint