Cancel Culture or Consequences

I have a secret to share.  For decades I had an overwhelming crush on Kevin Spacey.  I loved all his films; ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ was my favorite and I even went on a pilgrimage to Savannah to see where it was filmed.  In my fantasies, we were going to meet on one of my transatlantic flights and fall madly in love with each other, even though I suspected he was gay.  Then Spacey was charged with a felony charge of an indecency assault and battery against an 18-year-old man.  The prosecutors dropped the charges after the alleged victim stopped testifying.  Our legal system has found Spacey innocent but  subsequently other young men spoke out about his alleged predatorial behavior.  I felt nauseated especially since the storyline in ‘Midnight in the Garden’ was about an older man with a younger vulnerable male.  The consequence of this is that my head and heart have cancelled him.  I will not watch any film with him in it – our ‘affair’ is over.

Growing up in Europe, I have a laissez faire attitude to extramarital sex, polygamous unions, homosexuality and anything else that is part of our human nature to explore.  I don’t care if the Prime Minister of England, for example, has sex with a consenting adult – I would rather have it as common knowledge than a blackmailable secret.  It is the more egregious acts that concern me, such as Bill Cosby’s many offences against women.  In that case, the law prevailed and he is in jail as he should be.  He seemed like a genial actor playing a loveable role; so many of us were fooled.

Paradoxically, when Ellen Degeneres came out as a gay woman, all those years ago, I thought she was treated appallingly.  She was a funny actress/comedienne and didn’t deserve to have her show cancelled because of her personal life.  More recently, however, there were allegations about a toxic environment in her workplace and now she is leaving her long running talk show, although it was not cancelled.  Not being a fan of talk shows, I rarely saw it but on one memorable occasion I watched her interrogate a young famous guest about their love life in a most unpleasant way.  After I saw her do that again, I stopped watching.  It seemed as though she was hiding an unlikeable trait behind the ‘Be Kind’ message.  Maybe she has a giant chip on her shoulder about her previous experience?

In every day life, there aren’t enough consequences for bad behavior.  If a contractor messes up, I won’t give a bad review online but I won’t use them again.  Far too often, creepy workmen have behaved inappropriately to me and my friends, when we have been home alone with them.  When I last had a carpet cleaning crew in my house, on of the technicians sat on MY BED WITH ME where I was sitting to get out their way.  I now have  my own carpet cleaning machine.  On a hilarious but very frightening occasion another acquaintance called the police when the window cleaner stripped naked in her house – he was deported back to Europe.  He thought his saggy dad-bod would entice her to have sex with him…

I also believe that it is unfair that someone is painted black when they may be innocent.  Surely most of us have the common sense to work out which ones have far too much smoke, along with the fire?  If I feel that there is a genuine apology about an action that was unpalatable, I can accept that.  People who are in the public eye, whatever their role, must know that there is an expectation for them to behave within the confines of social norms.  In Egypt belly dancers get arrested if they are too provocative – just as well they don’t have Hooters there.  Programs get cancelled for the weakest of reasons so it should come as no surprise when an offensive action is the reason for a cancellation.  My final cancellation is Woody Allen.  Everyone has their own reason for liking him or not.  His work does not appeal to me although he has employed some excellent actors.  I don’t know if the sexual allegations from his children or child are true but I can’t tolerate someone marrying their step-daughter even if it was technically legal.

This is Merriam-Webster’s Definition of cancel culture

the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling (see CANCEL entry 1 sense 1e) as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure

Before we had social media we still had cancel culture – we sent people to Coventry in the UK. Wikipedia states ‘To send someone to Coventry is an English idiom meaning to deliberately ostracize someone. Typically, this is done by not talking to them, avoiding their company, and acting as if they no longer exist.’

“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”
― Robert G. Ingersoll


25 thoughts on “Cancel Culture or Consequences

  1. I think that it’s weird that Allen married Soon Yi, but she was Previn’s adopted daughter, not Allen’s. If I recall, Allen and Farrow never lived together and both had their own homes. So, I think that the narrative that he married his step-daughter isn’t true. Still, I wouldn’t date, nor marry, the daughter of the woman I had a relationship with.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yet another brilliant topic to touch upon, Kerry 🙂 Over the years, cancel culture has evolved rapidly to mean very different things to different people and sometimes it seems that people are becoming too keen to ruin lives over mistakes made many years ago and somewhere along the way, cancelling has gone too far and simply became a way of rejecting anyone people disagreed with or someone who did something someone didn’t like.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Aiva. It is a complex and divisive topic that has been puzzling me for some time. I think we have all stopped using common sense in making our own judgment. Sometimes we just behave like sheep…🐑 K x

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A very complicated subject. Answers aren’t always easy. On a related note is that vast numbers of Americans support what to me is horrible, inexcusable behavior. I’m referring to those Republicans who support Trump and don’t seem to be the least concerned that he is the most blatant of liars and that he incited a riot against the federal legislature.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s true to every culture I guess that such relationships are not in any way acceptable but time and again entertainers, actors have crossed this line. I like kavin spacey- the actor but yes once you get to know them as person it does effect your seeing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I think the big problem is that people retroactively trash the body of a person’s work if they are found to be doing something despicable. Spacey is a great actor and Allen is a great director. One can avoid their movies for ethical reasons; but, don’t change history and say they weren’t good at what they did…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A thoughtful post. I have stopped watching any Woody Allen movies, although there are some I have loved and thought were classic, and there have been some others, like Bill Cosby. Although I wonder if we should “cancel” all artists and leaders because of their private lives. Often the people who are strong enough to be cultural icons or corporate or political leaders are not people you might actually like to be your friends or admire personally. It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Ruth. Your comment resonated with me – most of the widely successful billionaires seem quite unpleasant but is that what makes them successful? Perhaps it is their seeming disregard for the little people. Now I am generalizing and that’s exactly what cancel culture is…😏 It is a thin line!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. A very thoughtful post Kerry. Cancel Culture is a tricky one indeed. Should we separate art from the artist? It strikes me that many artistic geniuses have dark inner demons/pasts. Even John Lennon beat his wife. Would the world be better off if we cancel the Beatles? What about all the people who were involved in Kevin spacey’s film’s? They might have something to say about cancelling them. No doubt a person who commits a crime should face consequences for it but cancelling the art itself? I get it if the art itself is controversial – racial motivated for example – but otherwise, why not enjoy the art? I suspect if we cancelled all things based on association with someone’s dark past we would very quickly find ourselves without much at all – let alone art.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I struggle very much with this point. I am aware, for example, that the films that Kevin Spacey worked on had many other excellent actors. That said, I have watched them all at least once and it is my choice to no longer watch them but I have no issue with anyone else doing so.

      I guess it all comes down to where you draw the line in the sand. Thank goodness most of us have a choice about being free to watch/read/view whatever we want.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes I think that last point is important – personal choice. If we start demanding people stop watching certain films or listening to certain bands, then we really will find our freedoms in trouble. Thanks Kerry 🙏

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Very interesting article. I live in Coventry and in fact being sent to Coventry relates to Royalist prisoners in the Civil War being ignored in the city. Im not sure how true that is given that most prisoners in the Civil War, on both sides, were sold into slavery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment and glad you enjoyed reading it. I had to do a little research about being sent to Coventry. One of those phrases that we say all the time but don’t know the origins. History reveals that we haven’t become any more civilized…


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