Is Cancel Culture a Threat to Creators?

Let's find out

This is going to be a difficult conversation. 🤷‍♀️

And I've been putting it aside for a really long time, but here we are!

Cancel culture — also known as call-out culture is when anyone's actions or speech is called out by internet users. If you've ever looked up this term on Urban Dictionary, you might have come across bizarre and questionable definitions, but there's more to cancel culture.

📺 Watch this video.

Twitch streamer and political commentator Hasanabi streams games and discusses politics from a socialist pov. He is fundraising for Turkey and Syria earthquake relief, which was trending on Twitter — but not for the right reasons. When popular creator iShowspeed decided to donate, his followers called it a scam, saying Hasan will use the donations on himself. But this is only a day in Hasan's life — he is often bullied on the internet for his political views.

According to AFK Gaming, the fundraiser has crossed $1,000,000.

Can We Separate Art from the Artist?

Many argue that an art isn’t a reflection of the artist’s character — for instance, we appreciate a certain creation for its value, cultural significance, or emotional impact, regardless of the artist's behavior or beliefs. Having said that, can we appreciate it even if the artist’s actions are problematic or reprehensible?

Akshay Bhalotia, a developer, says, "What are you trying to cancel? Are you trying to cancel this person or whatever they've done? Let's take Harry Potter for example; I've already consumed it. It's there in my mind, and I can't start disliking it right now."

While we're at Harry Potter, let's talk about Hogwarts Legacy, an action role-playing video game set in the Harry Potter world. The game has been receiving flak from JK Rowling's critics, with many internet users calling out streamers and gamers buying this game. A website was set up with the details of these streamers, so you know who to cancel. That’s actually bullying!

To avoid this very backlash, Warner Bros. — the publisher of Hogwarts Legacy, has declared Rowling wasn't involved in the game creation on their website's FAQ section. 👇

✍️ Read this piece by Erik Kain for The Forbes.

Akshay further adds to the conversation, "I keep wondering where you draw the line between freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and offense. If there's something I find offensive, someone else can disagree — they have that right. There should be a certain code or government to hold someone accountable or draw a line. I don't know the correct answer, but I keep thinking about this. Plus, even if a law or rules are set, there are ways for you to make a normal, harmless thing appear evil.”

Do Creators Fear Cancel Culture?

When asked Aadil Verma, a content creator & video producer, he said, "My instant reaction is fear. Imagine thousands of people questioning your morals, values, and character. I’ve only ever gotten a few dozen hate comments and that's gut-wrenching, I can’t even imagine what a few thousand comments feel like. I think the urge to follow the crowd is so strong, the sheer volume of people hating on you/canceling you can deeply affect you mentally.”

In one of our conversations with Pallavi Pareek, founder of Ungender, said, "I know many people who don’t tweet, write or share opinions because of the cancel culture. Forget saying something which isn’t being received, some individuals don’t even express themselves because they see others' content (tweets or videos) trolled or made into memes within half an hour. You can easily become a joke online, with no due respect to whatever you’ve accomplished in your professional life. No matter how intelligent, powerful, and amazing you are, the social media world is cruel, and trolls can get away from it. It’s not easy to catch people unlike in one-on-one conversations.”

Aadil adds, "I'm not oblivious to hate or the idea of being canceled, just that (yet) I’m able to bounce back from that initial fluster quicker and make the most of it. As a creator my biggest strength is my authenticity, which by deviation means I might rub some people off the wrong way. But that’s the price I’m willing to pay to build a deep connection with those willing to listen to me. I don’t think you ever get over that fear, just better at managing it.”

This brings me to the main conversation: is cancel culture a threat to creators? Is it a threat to freedom of speech? 🤔

I’ve realised there’s no straightforward answer to this. But cancel culture is detrimental to one’s mental health. Whether an established creator or not, at the other end of the screen is a human being. While some of their actions are out of ignorance, some aren’t. Accountability is one thing, but cancelling everyone and everything you don’t agree with, brings down the reality and significance of truly problematic things, isn’t it?

Should we put them on a social media trial? Let us know — you can reply to this email. We’d love to know your thoughts.

Do you think cancel culture is a threat to creators?

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That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with another story next week.

Until then,

Keep creating! 🔥

— Sunaina Patnaik


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