Cancel Culture & The Power of Muting

by Paula Michelle Gillison

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“Bro! I’mma get cancelled for this but bruh… Cardi”

That’s what rapper & social media personality Doja Cat said in a Snap Chat video last week as she was mocking rapper Cardi B’s verse on the hit song Press. Doja was making fun Cardi’s voice, joking along to the deep tones and rough accent Cardi used as the song blasted from the radio. Doja laughed and stated “Bro! Imma get cancelled for this but bruh…” But it made no splash and lasted shortly in headlines as women rappers had Jermaine Dupree to deal with instead. Cardi and Doja are of the same sport but on two different fields.

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What interested me about the video is how casually Doja Cat laughed off being cancelled. CANCELLED! Especially since Doja has been cancelled before and has seen how it can effect a career. Cancel Culture is legit; it can be hella annoying, but in the hands of millennials, it is so very powerful!

Honestly, it’s one of the things I really like about the current generation of young adults. They are quick to cut people off, mute them, and give no ducks about it! The older generations could learn from this. Our grandparents (Gen GI & Silent) swept things under the rug and pretended it didn’t happen. Our parents (Gen Baby Boomers & Gen X) acknowledged things but had awful coping mechanisms and refused to get professional help. My generation (Millennials & Gen Y) is getting help and being vocal but are so deeply debted to the previous generations ails, they can’t seem to get a break. Where as the kids coming up today (Gen Z or the New Silent)… they won’t even put themselves in a position to get hurt in the first place. I like to think my generation is catching on well but we’re, as all, a melting pot of poor choices and bad ideology. Each generation has it’s pitfalls and lessons to be learned.

Okay, I’ll give you an example using an actual pop culture reference (and old one but still relevant.) Chris Brown. He’s been in the news again this week for having a big mouth by being disrespectful to women in his lyrics and demanding only a certain skin color be allowed around him. You remember that Rhianna situation (Google it!). Gen GI would have told Rhianna to stay with that man; that men sometimes act in ways that women can’t understand but she should be more forgiving. Gen X probably what have asked her what did she do to provoke him? They might have even made her question if she should just stay for the money or for security. Gen Y would encourage her to leave. But wouldn’t offer her the resources and support she needs to do it. Gen Z would tell her to leave and never look back. Then encourage her to get professional help while screaming YAAAS as she accomplishes something new without him every day! (I know the lines of all the Gen’s blur, this is just an example.)

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And speaking of offense, that’s also something the generations handle quite differently. Gen Z is offended by… EVERYTHING! Where as Gen GI, sucked it all up like the offender and offended aren’t even having the same conversation.

Thus, Cancel Culture is born. It’s the space right between “I’m offended,” and “I’m done with you!” Cancel culture makes a definitive statement, usually via a protest or boycott, that what was done will not be tolerated and until further notice, the person, place, or organization is cut off. Your healing is yours to partake in, your punishment is also yours to have, and you and your catalog are no longer welcome to the cookout. Cancel Culture demands penance and repentance.

The problem with Cancel Culture is that it also coupled with generation-social-media and generation-short-attention-span. Which means with the right gimmick, the cancelled can be forgotten about and/or forgiven. So Cat’s like Doja, get cancelled for tweeting homophobia but feel unbothered to change their ways. She just needs folks to like Moo-ing more than disliking threats against gay people and she’s uncancelled. Also, Cancel Culture can fail to do their due diligence before muting someone. Though Kevin Hart had apologized for his ways and admitted to his failures, cancel culture dug up his dirt and demanded more penance.

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While we here, can I just add that Gen GI really needs to chill out on cancelling every person who made a mistakes 10 years ago. Especially those who were raised within toxic cultural habits. Each generation, each culture, had some ducked up ways of doing things. If the person is still operating the way the once did, then MUTE em’ with a moldy sock for all I care. But for the other’s, let’s try dialogue and meaningful exchanges. That’s how we grow and learn.

Cancel Culture is powerful! And when used correctly, the perpetrator is forced to feel the consequences of their actions right where it hurts most… their pride and their pockets. They are essentially muted with little chance for revival without a genuine change or heart and maybe the right PR person.

Example: Reggae artist and rapper, Buju Banton. In a bold action, he banned the controversial yet widely loved song “Boom Bye Bye” from catalog and stopped performing it.

“I recognize that the song has caused much pain to listeners, as well as to my fans, my family and myself. After all the adversity we’ve been through I am determined to put this song in the past and continue moving forward as an artist and as a man.”

Urban Islandz

 Personally, I’ve adopted cancel culture in my own handling as well. I’ve cancelled restaurants with bad service, banks with corrupt dealings, and events with shady doings. And if you’ve read my previous post, you know I’m a proponent of forgiveness. However, mama aint’ raise no fool! I’ll cancel, shut down, block, and mute anything that doesn’t spark joy. Big up Marie Kondo!

I encourage you to do the same. Cancel those things that interrupt your peace but always be willing to have the sort of dialogue that allows space for understanding and shared growth.

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