In the past months, the concept of "cancel culture" has gained shocking power on the internet. Celebrities are finding themselves "canceled" professionally for social media posts they made years ago, or because their past work gives a distorted view of their morals to audiences. In an interview, actor and comedian Kevin Hart warned of the negative consequences of such a reactionary notion of justice.
"When you talk about our state of today, we're becoming comfortable with giving this 'cancel' idea in culture the level of attention that we are. We're letting people control and dictate the start and finish of peoples' lives, and if we are in a time of finding any type of solution to the fight of equality and change, which seems to be a global fight now-a global fight of people being treated fairly, change, understanding and accepting the past, but preparing for a better future-that means that we can't be in a position where we're contradicting ourselves."
While early 'cancel culture' roots were formed during the public ousting of serial offenders like Harvey Weinstein, the movement has since come to be associated with social media watchdogs eager to dismiss celebrities who are seen as saying or doing the wrong thing on social media. According to Hart, such practices get in the way of individuals learning and growing from their mistakes.
"What happened to the days of making a mistake, learning from the mistake, not doing that, and educating others on what not to do because of your mistakes? Isn't that parenting? Isn't that the world of raising a kid? How do you know what to tell your kid to do or not to do? You have to be in a position of experience to say, "Don't touch that stove because it's hot," because you touched it when it was hot. I can't give you that lesson if I don't have the experience. "Hey, in the corporate world, this is how you move and maneuver, and you make sure you do it accordingly. You make sure that you treat every woman with respect. You make sure that you do not act a certain way in this and that," and it's based off of what? Knowledge, experience. It's based off of growth. It's based off understanding."
The actor goes on to explain that his own view is that there are different levels of wrongdoing, and not every person who has done something wrong should be placed on an equal footing regardless of the extent of their crimes, and punished in equal measure, which is what "cancel culture" does. For Hart, it is important to add nuance to the discussion of wrong-doing in the public's eye, the kind of nuance which does not exist right now.
"At some point, there has to be a middle ground, and right now, there isn't one. It doesn't exist, and it worries me that we're getting comfortable with that. And by all means, what I'm saying doesn't mean that if something is wrong, and someone has done wrong at the highest level, they shouldn't be dealt with accordingly. By all means, I stand behind that. But I also can stand behind saying everything is not at that level. Everything isn't that."
These quotes come from Deadline.