In 2014, when TV critic and assistant professor at Old Dominion University, Miles McNutt, became one of the first people to use the phrase “cancel culture” on Twitter, he was actually referring to TV shows and “the metrics by which a TV series’ success is measured and the speculation over which shows will survive”.
What is “cancel culture?
In this politically divided and social-media-driven age, “cancel culture” has touched nearly every part of American public life. Politicians, celebrities, CEOs, athletes, media executives — even knitting influencers have experienced getting “canceled.”
What It Means to Get ‘Canceled’
Show’s over, folks. Time to go home.
How did cancel culture start?
How did cancel culture start? One of the earliest pop culture references to someone being “canceled” was in late 2014, during an episode of VH1’s reality show “Love and Hip-Hop: New York.” Cisco Rosado, a cast member and music executive, told his then-girlfriend Diamond Strawberry, “You’re canceled,” after she revealed she had a daughter.
By/ Christopher Brito/ CBS News/ August 19, 2020, 2:14 PM
“Cancel culture” seems to have started as an internet joke. Now it’s anything but.
Watch the CBSN Originals documentary, “Speaking Frankly: Cancel Culture,” in the video player above.
Getting “canceled” frequently plays out the same way: A person — whether famous or not — says or does something controversial and the backlash on social media follows swiftly.
Whether the public punishment corresponds to the act that sparked it may be up for debate, but the growing number of such incidents has fueled controversy over what’s become known as “cancel culture.” Critics of cancel culture say the process stifles free expression, inhibits the exchange of ideas and keeps people from straying from their comfort zones. Others, however, argue that it has empowered people to challenge the status quo and demand accountability from those in positions of power or wealth.
The phenomenon we now know as cancel culture actually had innocuous beginnings before it morphed into a mechanism that can turn a person or a brand into a pariah in a matter of tweets.
What does “cancel culture” actually mean?
The term itself is vague and has become a catch-all for various situations with different degrees of severity and impact. Professor Anne H. Charity Hudley, an expert on African American culture and linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, broke down the idea into two distinct definitions.
The first is essentially a boycott. “It is the withdrawal of financial support, political support, social, economic support, often in pop culture in the form of attention of a particular media star, a political figure, a business figure,” Hudley told CBS News. “And withdrawing publicly your support in a way that informs other people that should withdraw their support as well.”
“The second definition, that is silencing something or somebody,” she added. “And they overlap, but it’s a little bit different because one is more about withdrawing your attention and the other is actively seeking to stop someone else from speaking.”
Depending on your view, she added, it can be perceived as the same thing.
What to Know
Cancel is getting a new use. Canceling and cancel culture have to do with the removing of support for public figures in response to their objectionable behavior or opinions. This can include boycotts or refusal to promote their work.
Update: These words were added in January 2021.
Things get canceled (or cancelled, especially in British English) all the time, for different reasons. That meeting you weren’t looking forward to attending anyway got canceled because people couldn’t coordinate their schedules. A postage stamp gets canceled with a marking from the post office to show that it has been used and shouldn’t be used again. You cancel an order after you change your mind and don’t want the item anymore. A TV show gets canceled when it doesn’t bring in good ratings. When something is canceled, it goes away.
What Does ‘Canceling’ Mean Today?
But in the latest use of the word, you can cancel people—in particular, celebrities, politicians, or anyone who takes up space in the public consciousness.
If you don’t know, there’s discourse about how Cardi B and Nicki Minaj should be cancelled for previous homophobic and transphobic comments. (Whether or not they are actually “cancelled” is a different matter entirely.)
— Victoria Hou, The Columbia Daily Spectator, 6 Feb. 2019
Even now, he doesn’t seem to have the decency to resign. He’s going to make the very people he offended do “the hard work” of canceling him. He’s going to make people of color running for president stop what they’re doing to own him.
— Elie Mystal, The Nation, 2 Feb. 2019
West may not possess much self-control, but he is more self-aware than his detractors give him credit for. He’s certainly aware that public opinion has soured on him this year, and that more people advocate for “canceling” him every day.
— Bryan Rolli, Forbes.com, 14 Dec. 2018
That’s all it takes, folks. Listen to disenfranchised voices when they have a concern, learn, acknowledge, move on. We don’t have to cancel anyone. They don’t need to step down. There is no long and winding process of penance.
— Zach Johnston, Uproxx, 18 Jan. 2019
To cancel someone (usually a celebrity or other well-known figure) means to stop giving support to that person. The act of canceling could entail boycotting an actor’s movies or no longer reading or promoting a writer’s works. The reason for cancellation can vary, but it usually is due to the person in question having expressed an objectionable opinion, or having conducted themselves in a way that is unacceptable, so that continuing to patronize that person’s work leaves a bitter taste.
The Origin of ‘Cancel Culture’
The idea of canceling—and as some have labeled it, cancel culture—has taken hold in recent years due to conversations prompted by #MeToo and other movements that demand greater accountability from public figures. The term has been credited to black users of Twitter, where it has been used as a hashtag. As troubling information comes to light regarding celebrities who were once popular, such as Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Roseanne Barr, and Louis C.K.—so come calls to cancel such figures. The cancellation is akin to a cancelled contract, a severing of the relationship that once linked a performer to their fans. As Jonah Engel Bromwich writes in the New York Times, the word echoes the trend of on-demand subscriptions of content, from which a user can opt out just as easily as they opt in.
There is a performative aspect to canceling, one that (it could be argued) paradoxically amplifies that which it seeks to squelch, if only for the moment. To cancel someone publicly often requires broadcasting that act, which then makes the target of one’s canceling a subject of attention. The objective behind canceling is often to deny that attention, so that the person loses cultural cachet. Bromwich quotes Lisa Nakamura, a professor in the Department of American Cultures at the University of Michigan, who says, “People talk about the attention economy — when you deprive someone of your attention, you’re depriving them of a livelihood.”
It is time to stop taking life and the left so seriously (New York Times for sure). What does it matter if a lefty tells you that “you are cancelled.” As a member of society I have cancelled the Democrats as a group of people who don’t follow the ten commandments and that is okay – let them live in their lefty world. ‘Neanderthals’ weren’t that bad. Biden should apologize to them.
What behavior did Neanderthals have?
Researchers have speculated that Neanderthal behaviour would probably seem neophobic, dogmatic and xenophobic to modern humans. Research on palaeogenetics suggest that Neanderthals possessed high-level cognitive abilities, so there is the possibility of strong social ties  and of a degree of rationality – something the Democrats lack.