It's normal to find ourselves irritated by celebrities. But the slow-burn punishment of "cancelling" rarely seems to fit any particular crimeby Rachel Connolly / March 9, 2020 / Leave a comment
Jameela Jamil is always trending on Twitter these days. Most recently, it was over a dispute about discrepancies in the way the actress’s medical history has been reported over time, with claims that illnesses had been exaggerated in hindsight or occurred in unusually quick succession. Some suggested she has Munchausen syndrome, and an intense wave of abuse was directed at her for days. It was a few weeks ago now, but many of the replies to her tweets are still from people demanding to know why she “lied about having cancer.”
If she did lie to the extent some of her critics are suggesting it would suggest she has, at the very least, quite a serious personal problem, possibly a mental health one. But the whole story could also just be the natural result of sensationalized headlines and reporting, with her medical experiences being dramatized on the retelling to serve as juicer clickbait.
I honestly don’t know which it is; I have to admit I didn’t really keep up with it. There will be fresh Jameela Jamil news soon and it’s impossible to stay on top of it all: at some point you have to tune out. She is the latest target of a trend for a kind of prolonged cancelling. A celebrity is deemed to be, for want of a better word, “bad,” and different components of their life (or, at least, the life that exists as a matter of public record) are dissected and criticised by anyone with spare time and a social media account. A kind of mob acting as a committee of vultures, resting to recuperate between sessions spent picking chunks out of an enormous body of meat they never quite finish off.
Arguments against cancelling tend to be led by the right and, increasingly, centrists who treat any kind of public outcry about any behaviour or speech, no matter how extreme, as evidence of a kind of creeping left-wing authoritarianism: the ‘thought police’ who ‘won’t let you say anything anymore’. This lacks nuance and seems to be rooted in the fear that social media has democratised the public sphere and given more power to those traditionally denied a platform to complain, more than anything else.
I’m not defending anyone’s right to say or do…