'Cancel culture needs to be... cancelled'

Clare Rigden
Columnist

Why does everyone have to hate absolutely everything these days? It’s exhausting.

Have you seen Instyle magazine’s latest cover? It’s the best. It features Aussie comedian Celeste Barber – who’s kind of a big deal now internationally – recreating that famous John and Yoko photo where they’re spooning in bed, with UK actor Jameela Jamil – who’s also kind of a big deal now internationally. In the photo Jameela is wearing a full black ballgown (ala Yoko), and Celeste is gussied up in a pair of Spanx (doing her best ‘John’).

I bloody loved it instantly – these women are so funny. And they’ve both been so great about starting a global conversation about women’s body image – Celeste via her ‘Celeste Challenge Accepted’ Instagram posts, which see her recreating famous actor and models’ poses while looking decidedly like the rest of us, and Jameela for just, well, showcasing her increasing ‘wokeness’ through interesting Twitter posts and her Instagram page.

The two are friends, apparently, and agreed to the shoot, which also saw them dressed up on a girl’s night out, doing stuff we all do, like getting drunk, and eating pizzas on a curb; falling out of taxis, and just generally carousing like two relatable lady legends.

I immediately re-tweeted the photo – it made me laugh! These girls are cool! Hooray for silly magazine covers!

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm.

Not long after the cover was released, someone on Twitter was having a Problem with it. Actually – lots of people on Twitter were having a Capital-P-Problem with it. People were piling on, saying the two women didn’t get it, that they were making fun of “Normal People,” showing their white privilege, being “classist” etc etc, blah blah.

What? Like, I like to think I’m fairly progressive, but when I saw that shoot and that cover, my first reaction wasn’t to go, ‘Oh, look at those two classist, anti-feminists – let’s pile on.” It was to snort-laugh, go, ‘Ha! Celeste in Spanx!’ and then immediately retweet it for shits and giggles.

It happened again this morning. Log onto Twitter – ooh, a post about Bluey. Who doesn’t love Bluey? Let’s read...wait...what? Now even Bluey’s been cancelled? The tweet in question came from someone who had spotted this clanger on some official Bluey site.

It was a description of Bluey’s mum Chilli:

Yikes. But also - sweet baby Jesus – even my kid’s favourite cartoon is a no-go now? Now I have to look at it through the frame of, ‘Ah isn’t Bandit amazing for being a hands-on-Dad, even though he’s tired, but boo to Chilli for going off to work at the airport and dropping the ball with her Mumming.’

Thankfully, this tweet served to point out to the show’s creators that perhaps they hadn’t phrased their promotional material well enough. It prompted this retort, and a back pedalling from them. Which was great, because frankly, I always assumed Chilli was that family’s mental-load-carrying backbone anyway (you've seen that pool bag episode, right? Point proven):

So hooray! I can like it again!

But seriously – anyone else thoroughly exhausted by all the righteous indignation that seems to constantly swirl online? Especially on Twitter? Can’t we all just try to enjoy our thing without being told we’re problematic? Yeah, sure, white nationalism is problematic. And racism is bad. And sexism. And anything anti-LGBTQI – that’s poo too.

But Bluey and Celeste Barber? Nup.

This increasing move towards tribalism and an inability to see any other view but your own was written about far more eloquently (and some may say problematically) than I’m attempting to now, in the Australian Financial Review by Craig Emerson. He says:

“Tribalism is killing civil discourse in our country and around the world. It is killing progress. When a society reverts to tribes, doctrine supplants logic and reason with such force that rational thinkers deploying scientific tools to inform their views are treated as tribal enemies.”

Yes Craig Emerson – yes! Everyone just CALM DOWN. Because if I can’t even live in a world where Celeste Barber and a Blue heeler mum from Brisbane named Chilli are deemed “OK”, then what’s the point in any of this?

Can we all just go back to shits and giggles now, please?

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