Home Gaming How did we arrive at the point of Cancel Culture?

How did we arrive at the point of Cancel Culture?

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I’ve written in the past of how polarised we have become & how that polarisation is fuelled by many for their own agendas. Increased views. Pushing products. Fame. Whatever the reason, getting people outraged or being outraged is a highly successful way to accomplish a goal.

A story that is currently unfolding as I write this is around an “influencer” who goes around trying to frame white women for doing wrong, jumping on the now popular meme “Karen”, a term used for white women who do awful things which usually stem from a bigoted mindset, and in doing so ended up doxxing a woman IRL.

That tweet putting this woman on blast has recorded over 82K retweets and over 176K likes. This just shows the power of outrage and how it fuels social media in many ways, particularly on Twitter.

Watching how outrage culture morphed to the point that it is today has been both terrifying and fascinating to watch. I’d be remiss if I didn’t state that I too have been caught up in it at one time or another and that is what makes it so terrifying. It takes so much work to see if something is a ruse versus when it’s a real issue worth fighting about.

The rise of cancel culture

What could be said to have risen from the birth of Outrage Culture is Cancel Culture. This is another wave that swept up social media and has also grown into a behemoth that is hard to describe or put labels on.

Cancel culture, I used to believe, was driven by righting wrongs and putting a stop to anyone who is deemed to have done something socially unacceptable. Issues arise everywhere from inappropriate jokes, sexual assault, racism and more and are dug up and presented for the public to judge.

If the consensus is that they are in the wrong, they are in a sense “cancelled”, which is to be shunned by society. Any brands affiliated with them remove themselves to avoid blowback or do so due to public pressure and thereafter society moves on to the next person.

It is prolific on social media, which is evident by the fact that almost daily someone is “falling” when you look at the latest hashtags trending locally. Cancel culture was something that was driven by “leftist” politics with a modicum of success, but for the most part the accused is dragged through the mud for a time & then as is the fickle nature of online, the world moves on.

Right wing followers saw the power of cancel culture and they too began to use it as a weapon to bludgeon those that called out their beliefs. Popular figures had their past thrown out into the open for the world to judge with the intention of silencing their voices.

Staying quiet around sexual harassment, wearing blackface in younger days, saying racial slurs. What it turned everything into was a mudslinging contest which resulted in a race to the bottom. People learnt to post things out of context and blatantly omit nuances to paint someone in a clearly bad light. With how fast social media moves, by the time innocent people could correct things, it was too late and the online world had moved on.

Is cancel culture a necessary evil?

I’ve been deliberating for some time how we got to the point we have with Cancel Culture and if it was a good thing, and that is where my train of thought was going. That line of thinking and my general view to Cancel Culture came from a place of privilege and then I was asked not focus on why it has become so toxic but why the need to cancel people online still prevails.

I started to think more about this and then I realised when you have no other avenue to deal with a problem, the anger, frustration and hurt has to be let out somewhere. We see this happen in gaming time and time again, on Reddit when gamers have no other option but to put a company on blast before the problem is corrected.

Gaming itself has had a reckoning in recent days, with countless women coming forward to detail the sexual, emotional and verbal abuse they’ve experienced in gaming culture. Reading the litany of stories is sobering and a reminder of how anti-women gaming culture can be. Those stories often detail how the issues were brought up through proper channels and were dismissed or outright ignored.

Its been two years since Cecilia D’Anastasio broke the story around the sexist culture that permeated Riot Games. How many of those raised issues were swept under the rug, aggressively dismissed and in some cases retaliated upon by management at Riot Games?

Racism is also an issue that has always plagued gaming culture and something I have written about at length. It took #BlackLivesMatter going global more than once before gaming studios came out in support against racism and started taking active steps to combat it. In those instances, I too felt there was no avenue to challenge these issues but the frustrations boil over and what else can you do but turn to social media in a cry for help?

Gender-based violence is a pandemic that has ravaged the women in our country and when you look at the statistics on how reported crimes are handled, the despair is overwhelming. Of the over 2 300 calls registered by the police department around GBV, only 148 suspects were charged. That is 6.43%. (Source) Those are just suspsects charged, not even successfully jailed.

I do not presume to know what those affected by GBV feel whatsoever, but when you see the statistics and the stories that come out about how nothing is done, you begin to understand why Cancel Culture is where it is today.

When you look at how hard black people have had to shout to be heard and respected and even then, the most people do is pay lip service, you begin to understand the anger that is felt and expressed on social media. Cancel culture is here because society has failed the oppressed at every step and every turn.

You look at LGBTIQA+ communities and how every day so many are fighting for their lives, protesting to be viewed as equals and yet despite all the literal blood & tears, there are still a multitude of countries who do not recognise them, many of those on our own continent.

From my place of privilege I wanted to debate a symptom instead of acknowledging the disease that led us to this point. I am no saint and every day I’m trying to learn more and do better but that’s not enough. Men are not doing enough and the world is broken because of us.

When gaming clips are posted of women being harassed on voice comms, why is it that all the other men in the video stay silent or laugh nervously? Those same men are the ones clamouring “Not All Men” and victim-blaming.

White people have not done enough to help society. White people that stay silent but post a black square on social media thinking that they have played their role. They believe because the worst thing they’ve done is say nigga on a Kendrick track in their bedroom, they’re absolved of all the crimes. Those same people are out here screaming “All Lives Matter” and discussing race using imaginary colours.

The inaction of so many of us, myself included, is why Cancel Culture exists and why it remains. We need to dismantle a system that does not care for people of colour and especially does not care for women.

If you don’t want politics in your games, stand up and actually speak out. Call out friends with bad behaviours. Don’t just silently disagree with sexist or racist actions you see around you.

Gaming culture is so prolific in the world, we cannot live in our digital bubbles and pretend we have no influence on the real world. What we allow in gaming has real world consequences whether you want to believe it or not. Stop being outraged at Cancel Culture until you help address the inequalities and injustices that it stems from.

Last Updated: June 26, 2020

104 Comments

  1. BradeLunner

    June 24, 2020 at 14:18

    I follow F1, which is quite a big platform, and it took Lewis Hamilton calling out the F1 Drivers and teams before any of them felt their voices mattered and that they should do the right thing and show support for the people suffering. What’s happening in Nascar is also really fascinating as the fan base has a large MAGA type of mindset, yet they’re moving quickly to show that racism isn’t ok in that sport. I don’t think it should be about calling out all white people, but should be about reminding all people that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Reply

    • RinceThis

      June 24, 2020 at 14:18

      Pretty sure that’s what he was saying. That and our own white minds saying ‘I am not racist, therefore I have done enough’ is not actually enough.

      Reply

  2. SagatatiaRZA

    June 24, 2020 at 14:37

    I owe somebody R50. When I saw the headline I was so sure Brad wrote this XD

    Reply

    • Original Heretic

      June 24, 2020 at 14:38

      Nah man, this type of article is Glenn’s speciality.

      Reply

  3. Original Heretic

    June 24, 2020 at 14:38

    I personally think that one of the biggest issues around is that of double standards.
    People feel like they can preach rules to others, rules that they often feel don’t apply to them.

    How many times have we read or heard stories, especially during this stupid bloody pandemic, of ministers (from various countries, not just SA) speaking about social distancing and lockdown, but are then caught out having visited friends and/or family.

    The same trend persists in nearly all avenues of society and life.

    There’s an age old adage that I do my utmost to live by: “treat others the way you want to be treated.”

    Reply

  4. The Fandangler

    June 24, 2020 at 14:57

    Rambling, wishy washy article that pretends to be written without an agenda before blaming white people and men for all of society’s evils.

    Can you imagine the response if you told all Muslims they were complicit when a terror attack occurs? Or all black people they are complicit in crime when black people commit crimes?

    Reply

  5. Conan the Barbarian

    June 24, 2020 at 15:38

    I don’t take on the responsibility to white knight for every stranger feeling attacked by another stranger, or to fight every minor indiscretion a stranger makes.

    If I were to take someone to task about something, it will be the guy throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window before it is someone saying something insensitive to someone else.

    As for cancel culture, people make mistakes, and anyone thinking doing someone’s life serious harm for something stupid or ignorant in their youth deserves to be “cancelled” themselves.
    We’re talking saying nasty words (in most cases) here when you’re a stupid teenager, not murder, theft or rape. Words (in most cases).

    Reply

  6. Sibongile N

    June 24, 2020 at 16:45

    White people stole land from all the black people of the world. They enslaved black people. They dehumanized black people therefore they must all pay reparations. This includes newborn and unborn whites because through the actions of their ancestors they will always be born into privilege. This includes white allies too who might actually be worse because some of them lies to our faces.

    Black Lives Matter

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      June 24, 2020 at 17:06

      And Chinese stole from other Asians, Indians stole from Pakistanis, Germans stole from Italians and and and…

      You ain’t getting no repatriations from me. I fully support the BLM movement and standing up against institutionalised racism but once you start thinking people will “pay back the money” you’ve lost the discussion.

      Reply

      • Sibongile N

        June 24, 2020 at 17:15

        Reparations not Repatriation. Repatriation means sending black people back. And reparations doesn’t just mean money. If you really were supportive of BLM, you would know that. This is why I don’t trust white allies like you. You lie about being in support of black lives but you won’t do anything but virtue signal online.

        Reply

        • Gavin Mannion

          June 24, 2020 at 17:20

          You don’t know me so anything you say about me doesn’t mean much.

          Same rule for you as the others on here, no personal attacks but feel free to voice your opinion.

          Reply

          • Sibongile N

            June 24, 2020 at 17:20

            Then educate me. Show me what you’ve done for black lives.

          • Gavin Mannion

            June 24, 2020 at 17:20

            Yeah that’s not my job. I don’t need to make you believe me.

            Keep up the good fight but try be less abusive about it

          • Sibongile N

            June 24, 2020 at 17:32

            Then I don’t think you are an ally. Allies are open and will support those in Black Lives Matter. All I can ask is that you stop calling yourself an ally and a supporter of BLM. We need real allies.

          • MechMachine

            June 24, 2020 at 19:34

            Dude. Nobody has to prove anything to you. Come on.

          • Sibongile N

            June 24, 2020 at 22:38

            Black lives matter is about instilling confidence and dignity back to black people. How can I have confidence in my white allies if they don’t want to show me their cards?

          • MechMachine

            June 24, 2020 at 22:42

            I like to think one lives their life in n manner where there are no need for cards….as you say.

          • Sibongile N

            June 24, 2020 at 22:42

            All lives matter is a racist statement because it tries to take away from the message of black lives matter

          • Gavin Mannion

            June 24, 2020 at 22:42

            he literally didn’t say that. Breathe my friend

          • MechMachine

            June 24, 2020 at 22:42

            Ok. Where does anyone say that ?

          • MechMachine

            June 24, 2020 at 22:42

            Peace man.

    • MechMachine

      June 24, 2020 at 17:08

      This is the sort of sentiment that leads to a dark road. You can’t legislate one group into wealth by taking from another. It just doesn’t work that way. Education and hard work.

      Reply

      • Gavin Mannion

        June 24, 2020 at 17:08

        Agreed, but there is also a big problem where it’s almost impossible to hard work your way into wealth now. No matter the race or gender. It’s easier for white males but it’s still virtually impossible.

        Capitalism has reached it’s peak

        Reply

        • MechMachine

          June 24, 2020 at 17:13

          I can’t disagree.

          Reply

        • MechMachine

          June 24, 2020 at 17:15

          What concerns me greatly is what is the alternative ? I guess this is where I am off the reservation so to speak. Out of my depth. I end up relying on token ideology, communism bad. Still, the idea terrifies me.

          Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      June 24, 2020 at 17:15

      @monstercheddar:disqus I deleted your comment, keep it civil

      Reply

  7. MaSeKind

    June 24, 2020 at 14:12

    Because people forgot that not everyone thinks as they do, or believe in the same things.

    When I was a kid you still saw the phrase “Never talk about religion and politics” a lot. This is something people seems to have forgotten. And the reason we don’t talk about these things is they are some of the topics people get most passionate about and is a big part of their identities. So no matter what you think or say, someone on the opposite side won’t ever change their views to yours. Thus the need to just allow everyone to believe what they want and don’t try and force your believes on anybody else.

    The funny thing is the left seems to be more hypocrits when it comes to this as allowing people to believe what they want is a core leftist idea usually. But people who don’t believe that are wrong somehow. Surely you need to accept people with different believes if you believe everyone should be allowed to believe what they want? (sjoe a lot a believing going on here).

    Anyway, personally I think everyone should be allowed to do, say, think, believe, marry or be whoever they want as long as you don’t hurt or cause any pain or distress to anyone else trying to do the same.

    Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      June 24, 2020 at 15:48

      As Karl Popper said, “In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance.” It’s not hypocrisy, but a paradox that does make sense if you consider it. The devil is in the details. There’s a big difference between harbouring intolerant attitudes towards someone based on their identity – be it race, gender, whatever – and being able to act on those attitudes and actively discriminating against said people.

      You can believe furries are superior to bronies in every way if you want to, but you don’t get to deny bronies the same rights furries have or complain that you’re being discriminated against because you weren’t allowed to discriminate against them when society as a whole has said people are supposed to be equal.

      Reply

      • Yozzie

        June 24, 2020 at 15:48

        /)

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          June 24, 2020 at 15:56

  8. Kromas

    June 24, 2020 at 18:21

    Whoops. I come back from months of absence and this is what I get. Did Gillette pay for this add?

    Why don’t you just come right out and say it. You blame white men for everything. This site is reaching Kotaku levels of SJW.

    Time to find a different site. One that focuses on gaming.

    And don’t get me wrong I disapprove of certain practices in gaming but all you seem to do is complain and do nothing about it. It is easier to break someone down than to build someone up so I guess this is me cancelling my viewership of your site.

    There you go I was not silent.

    Reply

    • Gavin Mannion

      June 24, 2020 at 18:30

      Is Kotaku still a thing?

      We don’t focus only on gaming anymore, haven’t for a while.

      I wish Gillette would advertise here, I’d love to get some of that mainstream cash

      Reply

      • Kromas

        June 24, 2020 at 19:11

        That is sad to know. At least there are other sites.

        Reply

    • Sibongile N

      June 24, 2020 at 18:30

      You need to let go of the racism

      https://i.redd.it/4q16xthsdp651.png

      Reply

      • Kromas

        June 24, 2020 at 19:11

        Wish I could but as part of the minority in a country where it is okay to kill and rape white farmers and there families I find it difficult to stay silent when we get blamed for the situations we are in. George Floyd was killed in America. South Africa does not have that kind of system. Call me when you find a way to end racism other than genocide.

        Reply

  9. SagatatiaRZA

    June 24, 2020 at 14:49

    Cancel culture has a lot of merit and use. But so does an AR-15, communism, capitalism, bleach and rat poison. I do help inequality so apparently I’m qualified to say this: Fuck cancel culture. It’s out of control, being misused and usually misdirected. Do you know how many kids are being raped, taped and shared online in the US right now? Like this very minute? But the masses should go spend their energy canceling a tv show host for a joke made literal decades ago when we all were enjoying the benefits of it? Nah fam. I’m with the riots, I’m with education, I’m with resistance. This is none of that. This (cancel culture) is a hate-fueled shockwave from a Twitter-focused echo chamber where frustration was bounced around so fast that it reached critical mass and is ripping through society. Seriously, fuck cancel culture. Inequality needs to be rooted and stomped at the source, when you start doxxing 8 year olds, you’ve gone WAY in the wrong direction.

    Reply

  10. MechMachine

    June 24, 2020 at 15:03

    Yikes. How does one respond to this. I guess the general consensus is…shut-up and listen. I say, Hell no. Nuance is what is missing here. Cancel culture is not that cool in some instances and pretty effective on others.

    My issue is this, I personally don’t like the state the world is in and I don’t like being told that I`m wrong for saying that. I don’t like the hypocrisy, Riots over a man being killed, yet more people are killed as a result of the riots. I don’t like seeing mislead youth burning what others have built. I don’t like trial by social media. I see fascism the actions of those who are committing these acts, and they don’t even realise it, yet I must shut-up because of my privilege. But, I see the same fascism in the police, so how do I reconcile that ?

    I see an America that got the President they deserved because their politics are so corrupt. Yet through that very President I see the media bias on both sides at full force, I was blind to the lefts bias before. Talk about growth. I believe that social justice studies is a pseudo science that is corrupting the moral fortitude of modern universities by creating weird standards that are bound to implode.

    But most off all, I see articles like this and I think to myself, I am supporting my mother fully. She has no pension. I have two sisters who I worry about as we live in SA, a country that is two steps away from being lawless and as stated by the author himself, Has a serious problem with Violence against woman. And I wonder, I am so busy trying to keep my head above water, I must now undo the evils of the past.

    So, I am again being shamed by some dude I’ve never met, trying to force me to do what exactly ? What a great world we live in.

    Reply

    • MaSeKind

      June 24, 2020 at 15:14

      Agree with you 100%

      Reply

  11. Alien Emperor Trevor

    June 24, 2020 at 15:32

    I hate the actual term, but if I have to use it cancel culture is, in essence, a protest action against those who abuse their position of power and are not held accountable. People in positions of power have been getting away with murder (both literally and figuratively) since time immemorial, but very few people would know about it because it happened behind closed doors and the victims would feel alone and powerless. The rise of social media and access to information has thrown those doors wide open and people are seeing just how much bullshit powerful people get away with and that they’re not alone – it’s happening to so many people.

    It’s utterly destroyed the illusion that people are treated equally/fairly. It should make everyone very, very angry when powerful people get away with behaving terribly towards others, and get away with it almost always because of money – either their own or because they make someone else a lot of it which means the golden goose is protected. My auditing lecturer always used to say, “Trust, but verify.” Of course that depends on those in positions of authority holding people accountable for abuse, and it’s become clear many don’t want to, so fuck them too. Change is painful but necessary.

    But that only works so long as you get it right. Where I get concerned about cancel culture is what happens when it gets it wrong, because it’s very quick and easy to type an angry tweet and for others to pile on. But then it isn’t a protest action, it’s a mob – and mobs don’t make anything better unless you’re farming for XP. That’s when the ugly side surfaces and those involved try to justify their shitty behavior towards someone who didn’t deserve it. That’s bullshit, and cancel culture then suffers from a lack of accountability itself – and it provides easy ammunition to those wanting to dismiss the legitimate complaints, which are the overwhelming majority.

    Reply

    • Krabby Paddy

      June 24, 2020 at 15:48

      Yip, completely agree with this. Don’t need to have something like the Salem witch trials to start happening.

      Reply

  12. Conan the Barbarian

    June 24, 2020 at 15:38

    I don’t take on the responsibility to white knight for every stranger feeling attacked by another stranger, or to fight every minor indiscretion a stranger makes.

    If I were to take someone to task about something, it will be the guy throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window before it is someone saying something insensitive to someone else.

    As for cancel culture, people make mistakes, and anyone thinking doing someone’s life serious harm for something stupid or ignorant in their youth deserves to be “cancelled” themselves.
    We’re talking saying nasty words (in most cases) here when you’re a stupid teenager, not murder, theft or rape. Words (in most cases).

    Reply

  13. Sibongile N

    June 24, 2020 at 17:20

    Glenn
    You need to write a new article about educating these white allies who think they’re supporting us but don’t even want to lift a finger. They support us behind keyboards but won’t even think of reparations.

    Reply

  14. D4m@E

    June 26, 2020 at 11:19

    Here is the unfortunate reality of articles like this. You can’t properly debate in a comments section unless you’re planning on posting an entire essay.

    So, like in Spaceballs, here’s the short, short version.

    On cancel culture – Who gives an individual the right to decide how much time must pass before a person could’ve changed? Some people dig up posts from 30 years back. So more than your own lifetime?
    Who hasn’t said and done stupid things in their lives?
    Like most things these days, it started out as a well-intentioned tool that devolved into an easy way to push an agenda or settle a grudge.

    The same goes for things like the METOO movements. Why are there no repercussions for people who just flatout lie and destroy innocent people’s lives in the process?

    And lastly, lumping all people of a certain race in one box, demanding respect and subservience, when none is given, because of the mistakes of a previous generation is a slippery slope that ends in a very long slide off the edge of a cliff. That kind of thinking is the very thing we are supposed to be fighting against. Yet here we are. And let’s not be ignorant in thinking that “white” people are the only ones who fought wars for land. History did not start a couple of decades ago.

    So..
    Do you know me as a person?
    Do you know what I’ve been through in my life?
    Do you know anything about any choices I’ve made or struggles I’ve had to overcome?

    Life is not about dealing in absolutes.
    It’s not a fence where you are either on the left or right, no matter what America would like to believe.
    There are 2 fences with a very, very big grey area inbetween.

    Reply

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