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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Chen

Moral Relativism Against Cancel Culture

(Content Warning: possible sensitive content)

The such diverse set of beliefs and perspectives we possess called ideology or ethics is what forms our morals, the reason behind why we have certain ideas, actions or intentions. Moral relativism is the absence of an established definition to what is good and what is bad, or when something is deemed so - with varied factors to justifications and exceptions. We’ve grown so accustomed to our own ideas with disregard towards looking beyond what we have, however we must fully accept the diverse society we’re a part of, with the factors that make up our beliefs. Religion, culture and emotion are our sources and over the course of time and history, we’ve seen that it’s rather difficult for people to understand this relativity. When we face inequality through an action that we view as morally wrong or offensive, we sense the importance of preventing it from happening continuously and ending any sort of praise/recognition that that person gets; this practice is the famous Cancel Culture we see in today’s polarizing attitude towards morals.

The main issue with Cancel Culture originates from our deep obsession and unrealistic expectations of other humans. We put a glamorized image of someone in our heads when we have such little knowledge about them, leading us to expect these figures, celebrities to be delusively perfect. Humans are inherently imperfect and forcing high standards onto them only leads to our own disappointment. Although recently, we have become more aware about respecting differences with the intention of bettering society, this practice has become rather hypocritical when taken too far, bringing more negativity and eliminating room to grow and change. Not only for those being “canceled”, but for the audience that is collectively canceling people with the firm belief that they are not in the wrong, which ends up forming this moral paradox in pop culture. Cancel Culture originates from westernized standards of idolized figures and “political correctness”. An outcome of this is people being misjudged for their actions that may be deemed problematic in one place, but normalized or superficial in another. This exposes the major role that ethnocentrism plays in the practice, that occurs so often despite its absence in public discussion.

In spite of the fact that cancel culture has the motive to eliminate bad representation from media with a “positive” intent, it completely converts into moral absolutism when it comes to more indistinct topics that are considered problematic. There are actions that we have collectively agreed are wrong regardless one’s intention and does not require a difference in morals to confirm if it is worth defaming them; crimes such as rape, theft, disloyalty and more have been banned legally and societally. This makes it fully justifiable for someone to be ostracized from the pedestal we put celebrities on and no longer gain recognition for the things they’ve done throughout their career, up to a point. We can agree that in every culture the action of doing something that greatly harms another person, is wrong and is very complex to be forgiven. While the people affected may forgive someone after hearing their motive or intention, as a public figure that many people “look up to”, there already is disappointment in knowing that their idol has done something that makes their audience uncomfortable. It is valid to prioritize our own morals or be convinced that it is the only right one since we grew up living up to those standards, but up to when we start imposing them on others. We are in a diversified world with people of all backgrounds through religions and cultures, where although people disagree with the expectations that a culture/religion forms, they must at the least acknowledge that they exist. Even though collective agreement on something that is wrong regardless of people’s differences can be classified as moral absolutism, cancel culture continuously throws a person into complexity using the standards created by a distinct set of morals that may appeal to a specific audience but not another. It’s caused polarizing ideals and with the widespread of social media culture to younger ages, the influence of socially excluding people because of a wrongdoing teaches people to follow a specific set of morals and that mistakes are irreversible.

Moral relativism is not discussed enough when talking about cancel culture and contributes to ethnocentric standards of people within a society of billions of morals. Originating from western standards and political correctness, cancel culture continuously contradicts its own intention. To eliminate bad examples from our media and influence on the younger generation, it is required to take culture and identity into account at the time before defaming or ramification.

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1 Comment

Guilherme Galvao
Guilherme Galvao
Jun 06, 2022

Awesome, Tati!

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