[最近聞く言葉] キャンセル・カルチャーCancel Cultureとは何か?アメリカ文化の事情

Being canceled エッセイ
Being canceled?

アメリカのニュースでCancel Culture /キャンセル・カルチャーという言葉をよく聞く。以前の投稿でカバーした「クリティカル・レイス・セオリー/Critical Race Theory」や「ウォーク/Woke」と同じように、最近のアメリカのカルチャー・ワーを理解する上で、考えなければならないキーワードを抑えよう。

We hear the word, “Cancel Culture” often. It is another word which you can’t avoid to understand American cultural war, along with “Critical Race Theory” and “Woke”



The word “To cancel/To be canceled” was a Black culture slang. But it is now widely used to describe the situation in which famous people and companies lose support as a protest because of their expressed views. And this recent trend of social punishment is called “Cancel Culture”

WokeやCritical Race Theoryと同じように、言葉自体にネガティヴな印象を保守派によって与えられているのが現状だ。

Nowadays, the word is used with negative connotation, because of the conservatives’ manipulations of the word

Cancel culture - Wikipedia



There is a wide range of patterns of Cancel Culture. Who cancel whom for what reason… It is quite forceful to categorize them as one phenomenon and label them as cancel culture.

These case are very limited examples and they are difficult to categorize, but I think there are three major patterns:


ハリーポッターの著者、J.K. Rowlings がトランスジェンダーを批判する意見を述べて、「キャンセル」されたのは有名な例だ。また、コメディアンのRoseanne Barrが人種差別的発言をして問題になった。


It is well-known that the author of “Harry Potter” had been “canceled” over controversial opinion about transgender issue. Also a comedian, Roseanne Barr faced criticism due to some racist comments.

Correspondingly, this is just like Japanese “炎上”, I imagine?

2: 有名人、経営者、政治家の犯罪

性的虐待行為の抗議のために「キャンセル」されたハリウッドの映画プロデューサー、Harvery WeinsteinやBill Cosbyが代表的な例だが、政治家にも(恐ろしい事に)よくある話だ。これは問題発言を通り越し、犯罪として実刑判決が出ている場合なので「キャンセル」されて当たり前のパターンである。

The main examples of powerful/famous people canceled due to their sexual abuses are Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood movie producer, and Bill Cosby, a comedian/actor (and many other politicians, scarily. These cases are beyond controversial statements but actually indicted for criminal charges. To be canceled is a natural consequence in these cases.

3: 知識人の発言の意解釈

学者の持つ意見が、差別につながると解釈して、その学者の公演を妨害したり、教育機関に対してその学者の解職を要求したりする場合だ。心理言語学者であるSteven PinkerをLinguistic Society of America の役職リストから除名を要求する公開書簡のケースや、以前のWokeについての投稿で見た、「中国語の発音が、黒人に対する冒涜である言葉に聞こえた」と言う理由で生徒から批判を受けた教授のケースもこれに当たる。


This is the pattern when public intellectuals’ opinions are interpreted as a support for racist view. Subsequently their speaking events are interrupted and canceled. Or demand educational institutions to cancel their teaching positions.

The good example of this pattern is the case of the open letter by the members of Linguistic Society of America, demanding the removal of Steven Pinker from its list of fellows. Also, the case of a professor who was accused of using N-word even though it was a Chinese word that sounded like the bad word would be in this category.

This is the pattern most concerning when we talk about cancel culture in terms of freedom of speech.



It is too much to categorize these 3 patterns under the name of “Cancel Culture”. It is confusing reading articles about cancel culture.

What does "cancel culture" even mean in 2021?
Conservatives are weaponizing it against progressives. Progressives are using it to eviscerate each other.


It is important to talk about freedom of speech but this does not apply to the famous people who committed crimes

また著名であれば、言動にある程度責任を持つのは当たり前で、「ファンの反応」は「著名」である理由そのものとも言える。それはキャンセル・カルチャーという名称以前の事だ。また実際には著名人を「キャンセル」するのは容易では無い。(J.K. Rowlingsの書籍販売はスキャンダル以来好調らしい)

Also, you needs to be responsible for what you say especially if you are famous. After all, the responses from “your fan” is the reason that you are famous. And this has been the case log before this cancel culture bacame a thing.

Another thing to consider is that it is actually difficult to cancel celebrities. (J.K. Rawlings’ book sales has been quite a succes since the scandal, I hear).

キャンセルカルチャーと同時に議論される、「Me too」運動に関して言えば、ソーシャルメディアによって今まで意見を聞いてもらえなかった、弱い立場の人にとっては、キャンセルすることはセクシャルハラスメントなどの卑怯な行動を止めさせる有効な手段であると考えるのも理解できる。

Another key point, “Me too” movement is discussed in cancel culture context as well. It is understandable that “cancelling” can be an effective tool to prevent hideous acts like sexual harassments for the victims in weaker positions.


The most problematic case is the third pattern. Just because you oppose to opinions that public intellectuals express, you refuse to have platforms to hear their opinions and have discussions. So called “De-platforming.


Often, this type of cancel culture is missing the important point all together. I condemn those who are too overzealous about one’s own idea of social justice to allow different opinions to be heard.


The Conservative pundits are eager to blame whole liberal thinkers for this but, it fact, most liberal thinkers acknowledge the real problem of de-platforming of cancel culture. As you can see in the open-letter titled “A letter on Justice and Open Debate” published in Harper’s Magazine with many signatures from influential thinkers like Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie and more.

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate - Wikipedia
Cancel Culture
What does it mean?

Sematic Bleaching? 「語義の漂白」


I recently came across this word, “Semantic Bleaching”. It is perfect to describe the manipulation of words by conservatives.


It means to label a phenomenon with a term. Then, over simplify the term as to bring a certain image associated with the term falsely. The image is usually a negative one created by fear.


Indeed, this semantic bleaching is applied to Critical Race Theory, woke politics and this cancel culture, despite complicated backgrounds, meanings and motivations. Many people quickly judge these terms and people who associates with these terms as “dangerous liberal thinking that destroys our society!”