Exploring #Cancelling & #CancelCulture

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A good friend whom I trade insightful YouTube channels and videos with texted me, "Natalie's new video was so good, I became a patron."  That's an impressive endorsement.  So, as soon as I had some opportunity for screentime, I held back my desire to continue watching the latest season of The Magicians (Harry Potter for adults...sorta) on Netflix and fought my urge to watch the new season on Amazon of The Expanse (but seriously, you should all check out that show), to watch this 100-minute extravaganza.

If you haven't encountered Contrapoints yet, you definitely need to go over to YouTube and watch some videos.  Contrapoints is a YouTube Channel run by Natalie Wynn that focuses on breaking down complex elements of our culture into digestible, entertaining, and intriguing pieces. She does this often through character dialogue (herself dressed up as different people of different viewpoints, debating one another).  She layers these videos with elements of absurdity and ridiculousness to delightful and hilarious effects.  She makes philosophical inquiry into modern cultural problems palpable and engaging.

But besides the fact that so many of her videos offer up compelling ideas that lead me into understanding things better than before (not just for issues I support but the other side of those issues), her latest video is one that I can't help but share and talk about.  



Her latest video is on #Cancelling; also known as Cancel Culture and the video helped me with a lot of my own concerns and challenges around the discourse of cancel culture. I have been of the belief that cancel culture is largely right-wing hand-wringing that is just the next logical step fo their ceaseless whining that "political correctness" is ruining everything (though rarely are able to demonstrate this in truth).  This is a standard practice of the right-wing as it often marginalizes what are changes to a culture based upon reasonable practices  (respecting people and being accountable when making mistakes---ideas that are often touted in right-wing circles).  That is, they harang about a thing as oppressive to them that doesn't really exist and use it as a means to disregard anyone who might have legitimate concerns about something within the culture that doesn't reinforce some intersection of white, heterosexual, masculine, patriarchal, and Christian norms. 

Now, I still see that happening a lot but what Wynn's video does is break down how cancel culture does actually happen, why it happens within the Left. Beyond that she helps to clarify the steps and the process and how this is largely amplified on social media spaces such as Twitter (oh Twitter...).  

I am convinced that it is problematic and her experience has been legitimate.  But I also have to wonder to what degree it is actually people of the left or Russian/Chinese/Iranian (take your pick of foreign entities) trolls and bots, right wing extremists (common practice to invade and be bad-faith actors in spaces they want to disrupt), or any other number of toxic folks participating in cancel culture just because they can.  Wynn at one point even hints at this in her video.

After all, it's worth acknowledging that this isn't an entirely left-wing thing.  Cancel-culture is something that the right has been doing for over a century.  From the Anthony Comstock to creation of the Hays Movie Code to the Comics Code Authority to McCarthyism and other such attempts to cancel, censor,  or alienate creators, the right actively attacks media in an attempt to cancel it--even when it they had not even actually watched the thing they were attempt to cancel.  

Canceling is not entirely something new--but it is something that seems to be able to happen faster and by exponentially larger groups in a process that Wynn highlights does no one any good.  And that's where Wynn's video is at its most powerful.  She traces a series of cancellations to show how things went from mistake to disaster, never giving people the time to pause, reflect and respond.  Instead, it's like a lightning-speed ping-pong game of reactions and THAT is what everyone is guilty of in the online environment.  

The video is strong, insightful, and an attempt to have a genuine conversation about the way we all can get lost in the shuffle of trying to navigate complex ideas, simplistic communication channels, and an increasing alienation and frustration that people are feeling and facing in the world.

Enjoy and let me know what you learned!




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Comments

  1. Working through and enjoying this video this week. I was really worried about Natalie and if I was on social media would try to share with her that she IS a professor (just a new kind) and needs to take some month long breaks.

    She acknowledges this critique below, but I also enjoyed this related video a few months ago from Cody Johnston:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szybEhqUmVI

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  2. Yes! Definitely a new type of professor...though one that now needs to be media saavy and ask for direct handouts from students/learners, but I mean, that is where higher ed increasingly lurches towards, no? :)

    Will check out Cody--thank you as always!

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