WIf columnists want to express that something is on everyone's lips, that it is doing the rounds that employs people, then they like to use the winged word of the ghost, which bypasses Europe or anywhere else. The current ghost is called “Cancel Culture” and means the cultural practice of “canceling” people or institutions based on – real or rumored – political-moral misdemeanors, that is, “canceling” them, not letting them take place anymore.
“Cancel Culture” comes from America, formerly called “Call out culture” (which emphasized the aspect of public denigration) and has a lot to do with the logic of shitstorms and social media. There are also examples of “Cancel Culture” in Germany, think of the artist close to AfD, Axel Krause, who was recently unloaded from a Leipzig exhibition. Interestingly enough, as we learn from actor Kevin Spacey's example, one can, so to speak, uncancel oneself again – in other words, bring oneself back to the symbolic sphere from which one has actually been banished. Spacey, who is accused of sexually harassing various men, is now, as the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” headlined, “turned up” in Rome, more precisely in the Roman National Museum.
Next to a statue (the “Pugilist of the Quirinal”), he recited a poem by the Italian poet Gabriele Tinti, which deals with pain, defeat, the public and what you give her, what she does with you. The appearance It must have been poignant, but also bizarre, and it gives rise to a consideration: what if the result of “Cancel Culture” is not the disappearance of the subjects who have become problematic, but their surprising insistence?
What Kevin Spacey was trained to do is “Cancel Culture” in its purest form: “House of Cards” was turned on without him, a film he produced was not released, his spokeswoman separated from him, as did his agency. Out of Ridley Scott's movie “Alles Geld der Welt”, Spacey was cut out six weeks before the movie's beginning and replaced by Christoph Plummer, a phenomenon that has been unique in cinema history. An excommunication, an annihilation: Not intended to be his. In addition, Spacey canceled himself, as it were, by withdrawing completely from the public, no longer tweeting, not speaking publicly.
Ironically, at the start of a lawsuit against him in January, he suddenly published a brilliantly ambiguous video titled “Let me be Frank” – which means “let me speak frankly and freely” as well as “Let me Frank “, an allusion to Spacey's years-long parade role as the politician Frank Underwood in” House of Cards “, which he was no longer allowed to play. Spacey addressed us, the audience, in a malicious and playful way: “I know what you want. It's not over yet with us. “And was wearing a Santa Claus apron.
So now his second appearance in a brown suit next to the boxer sculpture. In June, the charge of a waiter, whom he allegedly touched while drunk, was dropped. Maybe Spacey is just working on his comeback. But maybe it is like this: “Cancel Culture”, you have to know, is originally an instrument of those who feel victimized. Of minorities exposed to structural discrimination whose voices are often not heard by official discourses and institutions that feel mocked.
You've found an effective tool here to turn the tables: if I manage to mobilize enough people on social media who are outraged by the – real or imputed – sexism of a person or a whole institution, then suddenly the impossible possible: those who have the power must justify themselves. This type of dialectics is inherent in many social media movements. She is neither good nor bad. It is there, it bears witness to the aporias of our time. It can, it is undisputed, have cruel side effects. However, this, as well as undisputed, also has conventional power constellations.
It is interesting, however, that of course it does not remain with the “Canceln” as a unique cultural ban. Culture is not a sterile arrangement of juxtaposed individual parts, from which one can remove something at will. If people who have just been perceived as “powerful” (perhaps because they are old, white, male) are suddenly “abolished”, then, paradoxically, they are put into the role of the outsider who claims them first who believe they have to empower themselves with the help of “Cancel Culture”. The role of the outcast shifts, people like Spacey become at once free to the (fittingly Italian) philosopher Giorgio Agamben, to “homines sacri” as he, quoting Roman law, names those who have been killed without punishment (but not sacrificed) be allowed to.
Anarchist pop-up actions
And from the position of bird freedom, it is well known that it is wonderful to produce culturally. We see it in the anarchist pop-up action of Kevin Spacey, and we also see it on the show program of comedian Louis CK, who is accused of masturbating in front of women, and is now over himself with a cautiously wild program full of meta-fun even back to the cultural sphere feels. Exclusion as a strategy works only as long as the excluded people hold still.
But mostly they come back. And probably one can be glad if they enjoy their new freedom of the birds, above all in Roman museums, and do not radicalize themselves by reproducing the unfortunate logic according to which an imaginary army of the politically correct is opposed by the trolling outsiders as saviors of freedom. Kevin Spacey is too dazzling for that. Please, more from the off.
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