The Catch and Kill author weighs in on the best and worst feature of the internet over the past decade: cancel culture.
One of the defining traits of the past decade is the rise of cancel culture—a concept that arguably originated with Justine Sacco’s now-infamous, “Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” tweet en route to South Africa, the Twitter mob’s first taste of blood. Initially, the idea of “canceling” someone instilled a sense of righteous power. But gradually, like a fishing trawler, everything began to get caught up in the morass—political views, comedy sets, corporate partnerships. As the decade ticked by, no matter the offense, the same zero-tolerance barometer seemed to apply.
Even some of the people who helped cancel the biggest monsters of all—here’s looking at you, Weinstein—believe there should be limits to the movement, as Ronan Farrow explained on this week’s Inside the Hive podcast. “I think cancel culture with respect to words and not actions, is by and large quite silly,” Farrow said. “I think people should totally have space to ask dumb questions. I think there’s plenty of terrible and criminal behavior that is absolutely worthy of cancellation, to use that framework, without us running around canceling all of the people who said the wrong thing and then said, Oh shit, sorry, I didn’t mean to say that.”
“For a certain kind of privileged guy who is used to possessing power, there is a belief that you can always weather the storm,” Farrow says of NBC brass’s response to his book. “And I’ve been really inspired to see people refusing to stop the storm.”
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