In the last few years the term ” Cancel culture” is more and more common and a lot of people are very conflicted with the related phenomenon.
According to the Urban Dictionary the accurate definition is “A modern internet phenomenon where a person is ejected from influence or fame by questionable actions. It is caused by a critical mass of people who are quick to judge and slow to question. It is commonly caused by an accusation, whether that accusation has merit or not. It is a direct result of the ignorance of people caused communication technologies outpacing the growth in available knowledge of a person.“
After the horrible event of George Floyd’s death and the police brutality, a phenomenon has started in the US, the iconoclasm.
According to the Urban Dictionary the accurate definition of an iconoclast is “One who attacks traditional or popular instutitions: an anti-establishment person. Also someone who destroys or defaces religious images or objects.”
Several statues were destroyed and razed to the ground, because they symbolize the white colonialism and enslavement. This phenomenon has reached the Italian statues too, in fact the Statue of Idro Montanelli has been “under attack”. This is in response of a tv interview that has emerged recently, where Idro Montanelli talks about his great work as a journalist ( he was, in fact, considered one of the greatest Italian journalist of the 20th century) during the fascist missions aimed to colonize the Eritrea. During this interview, Idro montanelli candidly and with no shame declares that he bought a 12 years old girl from the father and made her his wife. His literal words to “justify” himself were “She was twelve, this is how it works in Africa. I “rightly” married this twelve years old girl, in the sense that i bought her from the father. She would bring me my fresh laundry.” After the founding of this old interview, it went viral and an anti-montanelli huge campaign has started. A lot of people wanted that the Statue on his honor, located in the Park named after him in Milan, to be torn down. And personally i do agree with it. Montanelli’s actions CANNOT be justified by the fact that “in africa it works like that” because if he had done the same thing in Europe, he would have been labeled as a pedophile and a rapist, and rightfully so, i may add.
Here’s the interview of Montanelli debating with the feminist activist Elvira Banotti on his childbride.
With every phenomenon comes the dark side of it, the extremism. In the US the movement #DisruptTexts ( a movement made by people whose purpose is to cancel some classics from the school’s program and add more inclusive, anti-racist, feminist and so on books) has brought the cancel culture to the most extreme. The books under attack were in particular: The Odissey by Omero, The Scarlet letter and The author F.S. Fitztgerald.
My personal opinion
I can see how some of this book may be considered sexists ( for example the scarlet letter) but at the same time i think it can open a debate on how the vision of women was and the ongoing slutshaming and victimblaming, and analyze the text from a new perspective which is ” how things have changed? what did we do? has the situation improved? How can we fight against sexism, slut-shaming and the victim-blaming?”. As far as the Odissey attack, honestly, i don’t really see the problem with it, but maybe it’s just my white privileged opinion. In the case of Fitzgerald, i wouldn’t cancel him but i’d rather give credits to the real author behind the most famous books of Fitzgerald. I’m talking about Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. Francis scott’s wife and muse whose ideas and notes were stolen by Fitzgerald and published under his name. I don’t think we necessarly have to cancel Fitzgerald but rather spread the knowledge about Zelda as an author.
Here’s an interesting article on the Zelda and Francis Fitzgerald story.