The cancel culture is defined as a form of modern day ostracism.That is, the exclusion of one from a group or a society. Although social media has made the notion a more colloquial one, it can be dated to the early days in Greece where members of a society could be banished for committing certain acts. Clearly, it was used in a graver context. Cancel culture is now adays normally imposed on people who would have acted against public policy or when a person has expressed an opinion that is considered wrong by a specific group or society. The Miriam Webster dictionary states that the purpose of the cancel culture is to demand accountability from public figures.The question is whether or not it is worth keeping .
Before the social media era, there were very few attempts to ‘cancel ‘public figures who went against public policy in Zimbabwe. A clear example of this was when Paul Matavire , the musician was sentenced to prison on a rape charge. The artist served only a year in prison before he was granted a presidential pardon. He is still regarded as one of the greatest talents in Sungura music. The society seemed to be more forgiving at the time. Whether or not this was a good thing is a story for another day.
Is the cancel culture effective?
The development of technology has led to adoption of foreign cultures leading to both a positive and negative impact. The cancel culture has now become a norm around the world even in our own country. The question is whether or not the culture has been effective in achieving the above mentioned purpose. Research has shown that the cancel culture most times does not affect the prominent and the rich to the extent that it must. It however continues to bring down those who are at the bottom of the pyramid.
Samantha Musa, commonly known as Misred faced criticism on twitter when she gave an opinion that was different from most people concerning the human rights issue in the country. However, after threats to cancel her, she was found on the list of the most influential women in Zimbabwe .
Another star that has been under the lime light due to the cancel culture is the songstress Ammara Brown. Ammara was caught in the crossfire when a fan complained on twitter that she had been rude to her when they had an encounter. She however went on to respond by saying that she was not sorry for the incident. Twitter streets made a fuss about the matter for several days until it died down. It did not last long enough to cancel her and her music as she is still recognized as one of the greatest female musicians in Zimbabwe.a change in this aspect could actually make the culture worth keeping .
Is the cancel culture moral?
Some may ask. A writer in the University of Central Florida newspaper Nicole Dudenhoeffer, described the cancel culture as punishment without a chance of redemption. Other writers have supported this notion by stating that the cancel culture allows the public to do away with the presumption of innocence before a party is proven to be guilty before a court of law. This was done in cases like the well-known musician Robert Kelly case and that of Bill Cosby. Both men were shamed and people disassociated themselves from them before either of them was proven to have actually committed the crimes.
Our very own Jah Prayzah a few months back suffered a lot of backlash on social media for not standing with the masses in the #ZimLivesMatter online protest. The masses did not wait to hear his side of the story as they relentlessly put him down and criticized the omission of an act they expected from him. Others even went to the extent of threatening to cancel his music.
The cancel culture has to a lesser extent helped to keep people in the public eye accountable for their actions. However, it has taken away people’s fundamental right to freedom of speech and or association. People can no longer freely express their own opinions without being harshly judged. Even silence can lead to extreme criticism. It has also taken away the right to a fair trial as most people are painted as criminals before the court can judge .Seeing that the notion has less advantages than disadvantages it can be said that perhaps a few aspects of it must be altered to make it more profitable to the society .If not ,then the cancel culture must be canceled because as it stands it cannot be completely said to be worth keeping.