Soapbox: Cancel culture limits conversation

Over the last few years, cancel culture has risen strong, ending celebrities, brands and even films left and right. 

While it has its place taking religion and racism out of national anthems, holding public figures accountable for their actions and other similar roles, cancel culture has gone too far. Today, it is pushing into the realm of journalistic media and even trying to forget history.

Journalists strive to enlighten the public and be a watchdog for corruption of power. 

This is similar to what cancel culture tries to do, but journalistic media values two things that cancel culture lacks: objectivity and the marketplace of ideas.

Take the movie “Grease,” for example. 

According to Express UK, after the classic film aired on BBC, critics lashed out against sexist, racist and degrading themes.

“Grease” is a film from 1978 about teenagers from the 1950s. Of course, it was objectively sexist, racist and degrading. And it was also objectively accurate to the film’s setting. 

You cannot expect ideas to be decades ahead of their time. Pretending that students in the ‘50s were is naive. Ignoring historical facts is asking for history to repeat itself. In this instance, critics are being unrealistic about things that are present in the movie. 

An article in The New York Times highlights Amazon’s new app art and the controversy around it. The company recently changed from a shopping cart to a cardboard box taped shut with blue tape with the classic Amazon arrow slapped across the center.

Many people on social media were comparing the brown box and blue tape to Adolf Hitler and his mustache, saying the arrow resembled a smile.

Times like these are where cancel culture crosses a line.

The watchdog’s job is to hold powerful people and companies accountable for things that are harmful to society. Mistakenly seeing an entire human and his whole war influence in three simple shapes that don’t even match his coloring is not going to make positive change.

Objectively, that art is simply a cardboard box. Yet, Amazon had to change the art due to the uproar.

This absurdity with cancel culture isn’t just something we watch from a distance online.

We’ve seen it on our own campus and even in this publication’s comment section.

In early October, the Mirror published an op-ed about what it’s like for a politically conservative student on a seemingly liberal campus. 

Reading the article’s comments on the Mirror website embodies one way cancel culture has made its way, full force, onto Augustana’s campus. People tore the author apart for things that are opinions and political beliefs. This statement is in no way saying that I agree with the author’s claims, nor is it implying what I do and do not believe. 

However, I am saying that the author is entitled to her opinion in the forum section of the paper. Anyone is allowed to enter the marketplace of ideas in journalistic media.

Journalists are taught to be objective as editors, and a newspaper is supposed to gather opinions from all sides of issues to create organic and necessary conversation among a community.

That conversation does not translate to threats and shaming. Unfortunately, these things risk bleeding from cancel culture and into the media, and if that happens, objectivity could be lost.

Cancel culture, it’s time to face the facts.

People have opinions, and forcing contrary opinions on them will not change that. Only a mature conversation with objective facts and sources can do that.

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