Learning Points: The reality is we all play a role in cancel culture

The recent death of Caroline Flack has once again brought the issue of internet trolls and cancel culture back into public discourse.

Learning Points: The reality is we all play a role in cancel culture

The recent death of Caroline Flack has once again brought the issue of internet trolls and cancel culture back into public discourse.

This is something I have often talked about in this column; and God knows we have myriad examples of people on this island who have had their careers utterly destroyed because of one bad moment or poor judgment.

Why is it that we relish in the demise of someone’s hard earned career?

Ms Flack was obviously a troubled woman, her identity was built around image and social media platforms, so she was out there to be scrutinised.

But the depths of this scrutiny after one mistake and the impact it had on her psyche is now, ironically, itself being scrutinised.

Of course, like Princess Diana before her the media will retreat for a moment and wait for this particular unpleasant event to pass.

Then it will be business as usual. Because there is a monster market out there and it needs to be fed.

The public show trials of celebrities must march on to satiate the mad dog of public opinion.

Boy, don’t we love to watch a good old celebrity with all their privilege be taken down a peg or two.

Canadian actor and comedian Jim Carrey fell foul of this pathological zeitgeist recently when he made a joke about Margot Robbie’s talent on the Graham Norton Show, he said; “you’re really something Margot Robbie, it’s incredible you got as far as you did with your obvious physical disadvantages”.

The joke is glaringly obvious. A little insulting?

Well, it is, I guess, if Robbie is sensitive to the fact that she is indeed aesthetically pleasing, maybe even a little rude.

Yet, he must be aware she has received two Oscar nominations, generally not based on appearance or physical disadvantage for that matter.

Maybe Jim didn’t know that, or maybe that was the joke. We don’t know what was in his mind and we don’t know the nature of their relationship — they may, in fact, be two good friends joking.

Of course they may be strangers too. But to call for him to be cancelled or to label him as a misogynist illuminates the dystopian world we are currently living in.

Perhaps Mr Carrey took a risk and said an impulsive comment that was ill informed and poorly thought-out or perhaps he made a wild statement that was so blatantly untrue and outrageous that therein lies the humour, and may I dare to put forward, is found in most jokes.

Must we all now communicate perfectly? If you were to analyse the minutia of what you were about to say and whom it was likely to cause offence you would be babbling and drooling on yourself like a herpes riddled rhesus macaque.

No offence to Macaques or anyone who does that, I’ve been known to babble and drool on occasion.

Generally when I’m faced with applied maths problems. When did we take it all so seriously?

When did we lose our sense of humour and when did someone’s mistake become the delirium of the public?

Surely we can change this current fervent mood.

Surely we all want to live in a society that is tolerant, not just tolerant of diverse and minority groups but of people. All people. Celebrities too.

So when one of us get’s it wrong and makes a mistake they are not hung on a line for all to batter like a human piñata. That is not a tolerant and sophisticated society.

That is a society that delights in the misfortune of others; the Germans call it; Schadenfreude - the delight, pleasure, and self-satisfaction in watching someone’s misfortune.

And the lucky next contestant on this glittering show trail is anyone’s guess. The bigger the better.

That is the current state of play in our progressive modern society — we sit back and wait for the next human to misspeak, fight with their partner, or make an inappropriate remark and then eviscerate them for all to see.

No room for apologies or redemption. Just public flagellation until it is no longer bearable.

And then we have terrible moments where it all goes too far, like Caroline Flack’s tragedy and we ask; how could this happen?

We pause, we reflect, and then we march relentlessly onto the next trial. Yes, that’s the animal we are currently feeding and it’s about time we said, enough. No more of that.

The tragic death of such a vibrant woman in the prime of her life is a stark reminder that there is a person at the end of every nasty and hurtful tweet or message we launch about a celebrity.

They may be wealthy and they may be privileged but that does not mean they do not feel.

We should celebrate each other, and when someone makes a mistake, let’s help them to overcome their adversity not tear them down.

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