Cancel Culture; redacted.
When society or the media or political actors decide who and what can be "canceled", they instigate a double standard which then consider it as knowledge - turning opinions into facts, irreversibly. Who, however, holds this linguistic-ideological scanner and the power to produce knowledge in this manner?
Canceled artist of the year: Kanye West? Roger Waters?
What does it mean to actually be ‘canceled’? The term has transcended the realm of pop culture and has “delved” into the world of politics and social agendas. Cambridge dictionary defines ‘cancel’ as ‘to completely reject and stop supporting someone, especially because they have said something that offends you’. Here, however, is where discourse plays a quite significant yet subliminal role.
Discourse, defined by cultural theorist Stuart Hall, is a way of representation through a statement to produce knowledge, giving meaning to the element subjected to it – directing the way through which the subject can be talked about, depending on a number of factors related to linguistics and sociology – bringing forth the intersection of power.
When a society or the media or political actors decide who and what can be canceled, they instigate a double standard which then consider it as knowledge - turning opinions into facts, irreversibly. Who, however, holds this linguistic-ideological scanner and the power to produce knowledge in this manner?
This also entails the term ‘woke’, an informal word used to describe the state of being aware and acknowledging social issues pertaining to injustices and oppression. Here’s the confusing part of this dilemma: when individuals seem to hit a nerve on anti-Semitism, the whole world wakes up. When an individual hits a deep nerve on the occupation of Palestine, the world decides to fall back asleep.
Thus, being ‘canceled’ should no longer remain a label marginalized to the boundaries and walls within the realms of a certain pre-defined agenda.
The question is, however, why is cancel culture a problem and how does it influence international affairs beyond social constraints?
IOF Soldier by day, model by night
DC "Superhero" Gal Gadot could very much be the face of “Israel”. She went from being an IOF soldier who possibly could have partaken in the July 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, to becoming Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. In between, of course, she was too busy modeling for fragrances like Gucci and for magazines like Maxim – life as a former Miss “Israel” is a struggle, having to deal with all the fame. But hey, she’s being cast as the evil queen in Disney’s Snow White film in 2024 – they’re not wrong with their selection.
In 2014, during the bombing of Gaza, the former IOF soldier posted on Instagram a photo with her child with the hashtag "love IDF".
Lebanon, Qatar, Tunisia, and Jordan banned 2017’s Wonder Woman from screening after calls from pro-Palestinian activists and the BDS campaign rolled in to boycott it.
Read next: “Israel’s” weapon of choice: Anti-Semitism
Human rights on whose clock?
Amal Alameddine Clooney is the savior of human rights sufferers everywhere – except those in Palestine. The Lebanese-born international human rights lawyer, a “beacon” of the United Nations, was a member of the prosecuting team in the UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon concerning the assassination of PM Rafic Hariri and later represented Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor of sexual violence by ISIS in Iraq and WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
Human Rights Council announced in 2014 that she would be one of three members of a commission to investigate the humanitarian and international law violations committed by the IOF against the citizens of Gaza. Hours following the announcement, her agent Stan Rosenfield, spoke on her behalf to relay that she would not be serving on the panel due to her ‘busy’ schedule with ‘prior engagements’.
Even after her declining of being part of the panel, Alameddine has not been vocal as a human rights and criminal lawyer about the atrocities committed as a daily practice in Palestine, Yemen and Libya by Western-led coalitions but can take a minute to ask the UN in April about looking into crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
50% off on normalizing genocide!
Spanish clothing brand, Zara, has recently come under fire after the local franchise manager conducted a meeting with extreme-right leader Itamar Ben-Gvir for a campaign, ahead of local elections in November.
Zara hasn’t made any comments in response to the matter and to boycott calls by Palestinians, and yet no one has spoken on the matter or attempted to drag it along the cancel-culture ride. German sports clothing company, Puma, is not only the main sponsor of the Israeli Football Association (IFA), but has a factory on occupied land in Palestine.
Yet, it goes without saying and adding, that Kanye West has been attacking and verbally abusing a variety of different sectarian and ethnic groups lately, just observe his Twitter account to realize the extent of his all-out frenzy - from his own people to his ex-wife. It all came down to one tweet that not only opened the gates of hell but cost the rapper-turned-designer his career.
People stopped buying Kanye West’s brand Yeezy or Yzy in retaliation for his recent comments on Twitter, but people continue to invest money in Puma and Zara and other brands whose hands are dirty with the blood of Palestinians and drowning in money from Israeli occupation.
It comes to ask then, why it would be normal to cancel Kanye West for his anti-Semitic comments. Still, it’s not acceptable to cancel Donald Trump for endorsing Israeli aggression, or Gal Gadot for deliberately disregarding the war against the children of Gaza or pledging a character-assassination campaign against President Vladimir Putin for the war in Ukraine.
This poses an even deeper question: how is it that the international community takes up a storm to cancel Russia but doesn’t reciprocate to call out and cancel Ukraine for excluding North African and Arab students from the trains leaving the country when the war first broke out? How come Poland cancels Pink Floyd's Roger Waters for his stance on Palestine but Saudi Arabia is able to host hundreds of celebrities to perform and vacation there even though it is committing war crimes against the Yemenis on daily basis?
Words as weapons
Discourse has become exploited by the Israeli colonization as more than a weapon to target those who oppose it, representing them as "anti-Semitic". Yet, those who are vocal in advocating for a colonial regime, murdering Palestinian children by the hundreds, side with the “beacon of democracy” as former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett called the occupation. Anti-Semitism has been twisted and wrung to falsely represent the term equivalent to anti-Zionism, thus closing the curtains on the humanitarian crimes of “Israel” and halting any criticism of the zionist entity.
It’s pretty funny, tragic in fact, the ways in which the West is entrenched in double standards for nearly most of its political and social affairs. The US “cancels” Iran for alleged human rights violations when the US is committing its own set on its own land and overseas.
The double standards keep shining through, in the international community as a whole. It’s certainly ethically unacceptable and immoral to be anti-Semitic. But why is it ‘okay’ to go on with our lives and actually pay money to companies doused in colonial practices, and to shed light on controversial figures in any domain who blatantly and publicly support the killings of Palestinian children?
Kanye West should be canceled for his rants, but so should Gal Gadot for her blatant anti-Palestinian stance and extremist rhetoric. Amal Alameddine Clooney should be next for not speaking out on crimes that she very much built her career fighting against.
Selective solidarity, or more like selective humanitarianism, is what this embodies. Brushing off people from society is as easy as it is said, and so is labeling them but not in the framework of one standard. It is a firm social responsibility to hold individuals accountable for offenses, and not to pick and choose who does and who doesn't get held.
Read more: "Israel's" dangerous weapon: Normalization through arts and culture