L Is For Learn: The Work A Famous Figure Should Do While Cancelled
It’s a dance between the public and the people we made famous.
June 16, 2020 at 6:30 pm
Canceling is a privilege (among many others) of the rich. The loss, be it financial, political or other, fails to match the harm done by those impacted by their reach (i.e. millions of followers). When a defamatory, misleading, misogynistic, racist, homophobic or otherwise “yikes-inducing” statement comes from a large platform, there will be several reactions: horror, indifference or delight from the psychos.
The horror reaction leads to the treading, which leads to the canceling — the dramatic exile from social grace whilst waving a white tear-stained handkerchief to your following. This is where it should end because canceling is temporary. I’ll say it again: canceling is temporary. It’s why we have rapists, neo-Nazis, pedophiles and other monsters still actively making movies and music, or actively making backend money from their past work, even from jail cells.
Where a mild cancellation turns major is the fight to the death, as a scrawny-armed celebrity argument tries to match wit with the beefy arm of thousands of citations, knowledge and logic from, well, the internet. Then, as this sad scrawny arm is snapped to bloody halves, a red-eyed apology video soils the internet, or an even more aggressive doubling down that turns a mild yikes-inducing offensive act to a major yikes-inducing pitiful act.
We all know the apology post or video is from the womb that birthed the word “insincere,” but we (I) watch it/read it like a marriage ceremony you’re obligated to attend between two people you know should not be together. It’s a formality. It’s a dance between the public and the people we made famous. We have a social contract with these people and a business arrangement to be entertained, and frankly, the apology is entertainment gold. Sad gold — but gold nonetheless — that we, the pirates of the internet sea, can’t wait to plunder and spend on GIFs and repartee. It’s a hilarious joyous time out of a painful one.
Sidetrack with me, if you please. Many celebrities spend hours missing meals, sleep, family and friends in their desperate attempts to not only stay relevant, but to entertain a greedy public. This rat race to the personal trainer, Botox needle and audition after audition does not leave a ton of time to read and be informed. And yet — dun, dun, dunnn! — celebrities feel compelled to comment on social media about social justice issues that are nuanced, historic in nature and require a lot of reading. It’s an interesting catch-22.
But the most interesting part is these celebrities are often in a position (based on funds, connections or other resources) to be in the room with the experts on the topic he/she/they royally fumble. It baffles me that as a “celebrity” you would not cheat the line and talk to the author if you can’t read the book. Will every author/expert make room for a celebrity? No. Hell no. But damn it, some will. Celebrities have the ability to be informed; they should take it.
At a minimum, notable figures can offer condolences in the event of a loss of life and circle back after they’ve done the work. They can even say they are confused and hurt, and post a picture of them reading on the topic at hand. There are so many alternatives to loading their social media and shooting off their mouths into cyberspace, surprised when people start bleeding. They shot them!
I’m fascinated by the mentorship relationship between Malcolm X and many famous people, like Nina Simone, Muhamed Ali, Maya Angelou and several others. I don’t think this relationship is the only way, but I think seeking scholars who are willing to talk to today’s famous faces is a start. They will likely recommend books. Alternatives to reading are TedTalks, audiobooks, Blinkist (non-fiction book summaries that can be as short as 10 minutes) and even, dare I say, YouTube.
I hate to judge (not really), but I feel like some famous (Black) folk spend more time researching their lace fronts, diets, surgeons, “fits,” new cars, new houses and scamming (oops) than learning their own history.
This is why I’m pro-canceling. Canceling gives them time. Time is a luxury they lost when you became famous. Time is a luxury they lost when we, the people, gave them too much attention and money.
Centeredness can be a benefit of being canceled. As soon as they see it happening to them, they should get off social media and get to being centered. It could be a great time to go to therapy, spend time with family, spend time alone and process why they feel and think the way they do. Self-care and self-kindness — especially if what the celebrity said came from a place of self-hate — and being alone is a healthy break from the pulling and prodding of fandom.
“Easy for you to say! You aren’t losing money!”
Well, with behavior like this, you don’t deserve our money, famous person. And if you lost all your money that fast, you should also consider money management classes and auditing your spending to see where you’re bleeding. This can all be done during your cancellation period. This is all a good learning experience.
Canceling is not permanent. It’s a sabbatical. Celebrities should take the “L.” The L stands for learn. So, go learn something.