What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled?

What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled

The terms “cancelled” and “cancel culture” have entered the mainstream consciousness and have been a large part of the public discourse in recent years.

The term cancelled refers to the public disapproval and withdrawal of support of a celebrity, politician, or other public figure whose actions, words, or statements are judged to be inappropriate or offensive by a large portion if not an entire community.

Someone who is “cancelled” is often considered beyond forgiveness in the eyes of the public. A cancelled politician may be forced to step down from public office and never run again. A cancelled comedian may lose opportunities to perform live and have their comedy specials removed from streaming services. A cancelled actor will no longer be offered television or movie roles. 

Many Americans are concerned about the rise of “cancel-culture,” believing it to be a form of censorship. A recent poll shows that 69% of individuals believe that cancelling someone over their past actions or behaviors is unfair. 

However, others believe that cancelled individuals deserve to be ostracized and should face consequences if they’ve committed a wrong.

So which cohort is correct? As with any other controversial topic, the answer isn’t black or white. Let’s start by looking closer at where the term cancelled came from, and what it means to be cancelled.

The Origins of the Term Cancelled

What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled

Would you believe that the origins of this contentious word are found in a disco song? It’s true!

In 1981, the band Chic released a song called “Your Love is Cancelled.” In the lyrics, songwriter Nile Rodgers compares a recent breakup to the cancellation of a television show.

Ten years later, the term “cancelled” appeared in the popular movie New Jack City. Wesley Snipes’ character, Nino Brown, announces to his gang that he’s cancelled his girlfriend, which means she’s no longer part of his inner circle. Cancelled as a slang term for breakup then leaped off the silver screen into the street vernacular of the 90s and early 2000s. 

Then, in 2003 one of the most famous “cancellations” in recent memory occurred when Natalie Maines, the lead singer of The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks), announced at a London concert that the band was against the Iraq War. Furthermore, she criticized then-President George W. Bush and said she was ashamed to be from the same state as him.

This was during a time when feelings of patriotism were at an all-time high and president Bush enjoyed an approval rating above 70%.

Almost immediately after making that comment, The Chicks’ record sales plummeted, radio stations banned their music, and they even received death threats. The band took a break from music before returning almost 20 years later, but they never fully recovered.

While this wasn’t referred to as a cancellation at the time, it was a harbinger of what was to come.

Cancel Culture Today

What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled

Today, cancellations of this magnitude are more widespread thanks to the rise of social media. This is for two reasons.

First, it’s much easier to find a record of someone’s past statements or beliefs. A quick search can bring up offensive statements that a public figure blasted out to millions of fans via Twitter or Instagram.

Secondly, anyone can organize a cancellation or boycott online in minutes. Users can quickly repost the offensive content, add hashtags, and call for boycotts of the offender and advertisers that may support the offending individual.

Why is Cancellation Controversial? 

The recent phenomenon of cancel culture is controversial because sometimes we see it used to root out wrongdoers who haven’t been held accountable by the justice system. Other times, it leads to personal attacks and the destruction of an innocent person’s livelihood.

Take the case of Harvey Weinstein, for example. This movie mogul was able to do as he pleased for more than 25 years. It wasn’t until an expose´ by journalist Ronan Farrow, the momentum of the #MeToo movement, and subsequent public outcry on social media did the justice system get involved. In 2018, Harvey Weinstein was charged and convicted on several other counts of sexual abuse. In this instance, cancel culture led to justice being served.  

In some cases, however, mob mentality can take over and strip away any nuance or critical thinking, which may lead to disastrous consequences for the person or persons being targeted.

For example, let’s look at the cancellation of Bud Light in the wake of their partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. The beer manufacturer sent Mulvaney a six-pack of beer with her face emblazoned on the can. She shared a video of herself drinking the beer with her millions of followers.  

The backlash was fast and significant. Sales of Bud Light plummeted after musician Kid Rock posted a video of himself shooting a case of Bud Light in anger over the brand’s partnership with Mulvaney.

In the weeks and months that followed, Mulvaney claims she feared for her life because of death threats. In addition, hundreds of people lost their jobs at Anheuser Busch, Bud Light’s parent company, due to the drop in sales.

Kid Rock has gone on to apologize, but that apology hasn’t gained as much traction in news media as his original actions.

What if You are Being Cancelled in Your Workplace?

What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled

Now that we’ve looked at how cancellations work on a large scale, let’s discuss what to do when someone at your workplace is canceling or ostracizing you.

Try to clear up misunderstandings 

Rumors, whether true or not tend to spread like wildfire in the workplace. Colleagues who are refusing to work with you have likely only heard one side on the story. You want to share your perspective in a calm and rational way.

Reach out to people when you have an opportunity. Invite co-workers for a coffee or out to lunch. Set up a meeting with them if needed. During the conversation, explain why you acted the way you did or said what you said. Ask your co-worker to explain their understanding of the situation.

Be sure to validate your co-worker’s feelings. Never respond to their complaints with “I was only joking” or “lighten up.” If you were in the wrong, then apologize. Make sure that when you leave the conversation, nothing is left unsaid or there are no unresolved issues.

Talk to management or human resources 

Management knows that workplace conflict isn’t healthy, so they’ll have a vested interest in helping you resolve any issues or threats of being canceled.

If you think you’re being ostracized by co-workers, then see your manager or HR representative immediately. Together, you can devise a plan to get the issue resolved and move forward in a more positive light.

Consider looking for another job

What Does it Mean to Get Cancelled

This is certainly a last resort, but if your efforts at clearing the air have failed and management isn’t supporting you, then it may be time to cut times with your employer. The longer you try to stick it out, the worse it will be for your mental and emotional health.

If possible, try to leave your current employer on good terms with at least one individual who can give you a reference as needed. As you interview with prospective employers, ask if they’ve experienced issues with cancel culture. And do not hesitate to ask what the conflict resolution process looks like in their organization.

When you decide it’s time to move on, be sure to contact Empire Resume. We can create a winning resume that will get noticed by employers and help you land a new job as quickly as possible.

To get started on your resume, call 801-690-4085 or send an email to info@empireresume.com.

Maria Gold is a Content Manager/Writer for Empire Resume. She is dedicated to helping educate and motivate people with the latest career articles and job search advice. Her interests range from writing to programming and design. She is also passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology.

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