The History of Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is gay. I’m not sure if people know that, but it started in gay culture as a way to self-police and out rapists. This is purely anecdotal, and I don’t have any evidence apart from my rather hazy memories seeing this shit go around on Facebook. It’s a phenomenon of the Internet era, and the feminists picked it up from the gays before it went mainstream. Cancel culture was a way for marginalized communities to advocate for themselves and manage conflict without involving the police. Cancel culture used to be a good thing. I don’t know why people constantly feel the need to say “I do not believe in cancel culture,” like it’s some terrible thing. Sure, the ensuing online harassment campaigns can get out of hand. But online harassment campaigns are not a direct result of cancel culture – that’s troll farms and #gamergate. Digital armies are a tool, and everyone uses them. Sure, cancel culture is an inherently negative thing, but then again it only exists as a reaction to other inherently negative things such as a rape. Everybody loves to blame cancel culture for everything that’s wrong with the Internet: the mass hysteria, the false accusations, the group think. But, come on. That’s so overly simplistic. Sure, cancel culture is the modern version of a hanging in the town square. Everybody loves a spectacle. That’s just who we are as human beings. But this tip toe-ing around cancel culture – it doesn’t make any sense. Cancel culture existed in various iterations before the Internet – doesn’t anyone remember boycotts? Or black lists? Or planting bad PR? Or fucking law suits? People who don’t like cancel culture are the same ones who say boycotts don’t work. Boycotts don’t always work, but when they do work – well, then it’s powerful. Yes, there’s a lot of vitriol inherent in cancel culture, so I get that it isn’t for everybody. But for those of us who don’t mind doing the heavy lifting of cancellation – leave us the fuck alone! I just want to know who the rapists are so I can avoid them and my friends can avoid them. I like cancel culture because it’s a lot easier than duking it out at the bar. Now that shit was stressful. Sure, maybe cancel culture needs a bit of a rebrand – the conservatives are losing this shit with this ‘uncancel-able’ bullshit, and it’s becoming tacky. But regardless of what it’s called, cancel culture, boycotts, law suits – it’s a tool in the tool box. It’s the gun. Some people don’t know how to use it. Some people are just fucking scared of it. Some people will wind up shooting their best friend in the face just fucking around. Others will get caught trying to kill someone. But for those of us who know how to use it – well, it shoots bullets, and that’s a very useful tool if you know how to get away with murder.

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