16 votes

Former YouTuber Lindsay Ellis says she’s learning to live with the trauma of being ‘canceled’

28 comments

  1. [11]
    Grzmot
    Link
    Seeing it written up like this again, it really puts into perspective over how comparatively little this is. People decided to send death threats over this. This. This is NOTHING. I had this whole...

    In March 2021, Ellis came under fire after tweeting, “I think we need to come up with a name for this genre that is basically Avatar: The Last Airbender reduxes. It’s like half of all YA fantasy published in the last few years anyway.”

    Some suggested the comparison of "Avatar" and "Raya and the Last Dragon," both of which portray Asian characters, was racist.

    The social media rage only intensified when Ellis sent a poorly-worded follow up tweet to the backlash.

    “I can see where if you squint, I was implying all Asian-inspired properties are the same, especially if you were already privy to those conversations where I had not seen them. But the basic framework of TLA is becoming popular in fantasy fiction outside of Asian inspired stuff,” Ellis wrote.

    The use of the word “squint,” which has historically been used as a pejorative directed at Asian people, resulted in Ellis’ name trending on Twitter, with thousands admonishing her.

    Seeing it written up like this again, it really puts into perspective over how comparatively little this is. People decided to send death threats over this. This. This is NOTHING. I had this whole comment planned out about much worse things I've heard from people as part of dark humour, who I know don't mean it and considering Ellis' reputation, I'd put her in the same spot, but honestly I can't even write anything about this except a rambling stream of thoughts. The only reason someone would get made about this is that they spend too much time on the internet and just need a hobby. You have too much time.

    23 votes
    1. [6]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      At this point, I'd consider a right-wing revenge-job (similar to how they cancelled James Gunn over a gross twitter joke from 10 years ago). In any case, there's something about current lefty...

      At this point, I'd consider a right-wing revenge-job (similar to how they cancelled James Gunn over a gross twitter joke from 10 years ago). In any case, there's something about current lefty media culture that just has to implode onto itself and it won't be pretty.

      10 votes
      1. [3]
        wervenyt
        Link Parent
        I'd agree. The alt-right absolutely hates Ellis in particular, and that debacle is right on the line of plausible deniability for garnering widespread good-faith hate. It's the climate of...

        I'd agree. The alt-right absolutely hates Ellis in particular, and that debacle is right on the line of plausible deniability for garnering widespread good-faith hate. It's the climate of infighting crabs that allows for it, but it's hard to believe that any number of people really got that heated over such a mild issue.

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          There's a lot of people who hate to see a woman succeed in a typically "male" space. And it's not just the alt-right who are like this, though they have more sophisticated arguments to shut down...

          There's a lot of people who hate to see a woman succeed in a typically "male" space. And it's not just the alt-right who are like this, though they have more sophisticated arguments to shut down the cognitive dissonance and pretend that's not the core ressentiment that motivates them.

          6 votes
          1. wervenyt
            Link Parent
            I respect those dynamics, and I'm definitely not saying "this was a false-flag conspiracy made up wholecloth to mimic the left", but I still doubt it would have escalated to the scale it did...

            I respect those dynamics, and I'm definitely not saying "this was a false-flag conspiracy made up wholecloth to mimic the left", but I still doubt it would have escalated to the scale it did without some aspect of bad faith participation. Just expressing a hunch.

            3 votes
      2. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        I really want to see a culture of education replace canceling.

        I really want to see a culture of education replace canceling.

        4 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          Yeah, but that has to come from a place of compassion to be effective. If you just replaced the tools, but not the underlying mentality, the improvement would be negligible. Teaching without...

          Yeah, but that has to come from a place of compassion to be effective. If you just replaced the tools, but not the underlying mentality, the improvement would be negligible.

          Teaching without compassion will end up as holier-than-thou preaching.

          Which is not to say I dislike your idea; quite the contrary. I imagine implicitly this is what you envisioned.

          5 votes
    2. [4]
      teaearlgraycold
      Link Parent
      Is it actually just because she’s a woman on YouTube with a large following?

      Is it actually just because she’s a woman on YouTube with a large following?

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        skullkid2424
        Link Parent
        Its a bit more nuanced than that, but she did have detractors beforehand due to both being a liberal woman and having some dark humor that some people didn't like (and some of which that didn't...

        Its a bit more nuanced than that, but she did have detractors beforehand due to both being a liberal woman and having some dark humor that some people didn't like (and some of which that didn't age well and/or wasn't intended to be published). The tweet she made was a complete nothingburger (and as she points out - the same joke was made by many others who got no pushback). It just happened to coincide with the rise of asian hate due to covid, and once it started, lots of her detractors jumped on the "cancellation" bandwagon and twitter did its thing to amplify engagement.

        I'd highly recommend watching her "Mask Off" video for the context from her side of things.

        5 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          Also for angry-tipsy Lindsay Ellis. It's entertaining even if you don't find drama entertaining. Lindsey Ellis just has that kind of humor.

          I'd highly recommend watching her "Mask Off" video for the context from her side of things.

          Also for angry-tipsy Lindsay Ellis. It's entertaining even if you don't find drama entertaining. Lindsey Ellis just has that kind of humor.

          4 votes
      2. Grzmot
        Link Parent
        I have no idea. Maybe. Could also be that she can't tough it out, which is seemingly the only thing you can do. Shut out the negativity. Ellis does touch upon that in the article, and I honestly...

        I have no idea. Maybe. Could also be that she can't tough it out, which is seemingly the only thing you can do. Shut out the negativity. Ellis does touch upon that in the article, and I honestly have no clue if there is another solution. My best guess is that it's a combination of all those things, woman, target on her back due to following, an especially woke audience to her political stance and type of content, can't ignore it, possibly because the people who truly believe in the ideals she represented have just a bit too much empathy for the internet.

        1 vote
  2. [6]
    NaraVara
    Link
    If there is one silver lining I do feel like this particular form of noxious online behavior has receded a little bit since then, and partly because of what happened to Lindsay Ellis. That was...

    If there is one silver lining I do feel like this particular form of noxious online behavior has receded a little bit since then, and partly because of what happened to Lindsay Ellis. That was sort of a watershed moment where for the first time I saw a lot of people who tended to hem and haw about cancel culture not being real acknowledge that maybe there are indeed some bad actors behaving badly here.

    Since then I've noticed people generally being a bit more circumspect about believing every accusation thrown around, at least among older people with bigger followings. The professional "opinion-havers" who were always most at risk and most involved in these kinds of shenanigans also seem to have started scaling back their interactions through social media and moving on to Substacks and other places that are less prone to these sorts of engagement hacks.

    It still definitely still happens, but I feel it's more isolated and less likely to go viral in the same way. It seems to happen more in pockets of groups without jumping across the boundaries.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      vektor
      Link Parent
      Yeah, but instead now we get "well ackshually, that's not cancel culture if she still has a job afterwards / is still respected afterwards / / is not a large-scale cultural phenomenon." Basically,...

      I saw a lot of people who tended to hem and haw about cancel culture not being real acknowledge that maybe there are indeed some bad actors behaving badly here.

      Yeah, but instead now we get "well ackshually, that's not cancel culture if she still has a job afterwards / is still respected afterwards / is still alive to this day / is not a large-scale cultural phenomenon." Basically, mask-off what they're saying is harassment isn't real. Sometimes, I might add, by well meaning people who just have a myopic view of the situation, who think that since Fox News is yelling about it, it must be fake, and who don't want conservatives to have that kind of propaganda victory. Very us-vs-them there. I can be left and recognize that others on the left do shitty things that people on the right call out. Not to mention I can recognize it on the right as well.

      9 votes
      1. Whom
        Link Parent
        I think it's more complicated than that. What the right typically means by "cancel culture" is often very different from what the left means, and so much nuance is lost in conversations about it...
        • Exemplary

        I think it's more complicated than that. What the right typically means by "cancel culture" is often very different from what the left means, and so much nuance is lost in conversations about it specifically because of this .

        I think that for the most part, cancel culture as the right defines it does not exist. Their narrative tends to focus on white men being torn down and made to fear the progressive mobs who will destroy their lives the second they do something wrong. Or, depending on the outlet, they may claim that being anything other than a socialist queer activist will get your life ruined. This, of course, is absurd and being that kind of edgelord is more likely to get you a netflix special than ruin your life. It's branding that's often self-applied and highly profitable. The very people they claim are being ruined by mobs are the ones who in reality hold the most power.

        When the left talks about cancel culture, they tend to be talking about the unfeeling vitriol that social media creates. To us, cancel culture (and callout culture...there used to be a distinction but I think that's mostly faded by now) is often not politically motivated at all and comes directly from the business model of social media. Anger drives interaction and interaction is very very profitable, so the systems that connect us have moved more and more to encourage and amplify that anger, only putting a stop to it when it can hurt the platform.

        While all this stuff with Lindsay was going down, there was a lot of hand-wringing on the left about how to address this kind of thing. Lots of good, well-meaning people would downplay what was clearly cruel and disproportionate harassment. Lots of "that's pretty fucked up, but...". This was terrible and was much of what Lindsay out on her own during all of this, even from her political allies and fans. Having struggled with this myself, I think the reason is subtly different from "we don't want to give the right this victory" (though I'm sure there was some of that). Instead, I think a lot of us lacked the vocabulary to address this without sounding like we're making arguments that we aren't. I do think she was a victim of cancel culture as the left describes it, but I don't think we're living in an overly PC culture of fear. That was a very difficult thing to communicate, and trying to do so would require length and nuance that the platforms this all went down on would bury. Or worse, someone not acting in good faith would say something about all the work we were doing to justify the actions of a racist white woman, or whatever. And you know what? I get that. When you're angry, someone trying to slow down and talk about things reasonably may look like Stefan Molyneux dumping all his sympathy and excuses onto Elliot Rodger. It's not simple. How do we encourage cooling down and talking to each other decently without treading into tone policing? How do we have nuance without over-encouraging cold, emotionless distance from issues that hides their real emotional and practical weight?

        I don't know! And balancing all that in your head when you're weighing in on some internet drama is really fucking hard. So many of us took the middle road and Ellis suffered.

        There's plenty of overlap between the two approaches to the term and it's a big fuzzy mess. Personally, I've taken the route of letting the right having "cancel culture" and instead talking about how the internet amplifies and gives power to mob justice. I think clearing up the language could help a lot. Beyond that, I think the best we can do is actively doing everything we can to tear down the social media status quo and replacing it with healthier spaces that don't encourage being awful to each other.

        10 votes
    2. [3]
      cloud_loud
      Link Parent
      For me, a sign of this happening was when a white woman made a cook book about Asian food. There was an attempt to cancel her by someone, accusing them of cultural appropriation etc. But people...

      For me, a sign of this happening was when a white woman made a cook book about Asian food. There was an attempt to cancel her by someone, accusing them of cultural appropriation etc. But people didn’t take the bait. They were making fun of the person trying to cancel the chef. It was an interesting change. Even in like 2019, that chef would have been cancelled and the cook book would have been recalled.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        mtset
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        One of the most praised cookbooks of 2019 was "The Food of Sichuan", a Chinese cookbook by a white woman named Fuchsia Dunlop. It was widely reported on in the New York Times ("Holiday Books...
        • Exemplary

        Even in like 2019, that chef would have been cancelled and the cook book would have been recalled.

        One of the most praised cookbooks of 2019 was "The Food of Sichuan", a Chinese cookbook by a white woman named Fuchsia Dunlop. It was widely reported on in the New York Times ("Holiday Books 2019―Cooking"), on NPR ("Favorite Books of 2019"), in the Guardian ("Best Cookbooks and Food Writing of 2019"), and in several magazines. She was not cancelled or harassed about it in any substantial way. It currently holds a 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon.

        6 votes
        1. vektor
          Link Parent
          In my head you're both talking about the same book. cloud will look it up and be like "that was 3 years ago already? Damn I'm getting old".

          In my head you're both talking about the same book. cloud will look it up and be like "that was 3 years ago already? Damn I'm getting old".

          4 votes
  3. skullkid2424
    (edited )
    Link
    Relevant video+thread from her "Mask Off" video about a month after the "cancellation". The article says she regrets that video, which makes sense because the "cancelers" didn't care...but it was...

    Relevant video+thread from her "Mask Off" video about a month after the "cancellation". The article says she regrets that video, which makes sense because the "cancelers" didn't care...but it was a very eye-opening video and unlike most "apology videos".

    Sad to see the lasting effects she is having to deal with. Social media, and twitter in particular, is not a great place to hang out for your mental health and should be relegated to business announcements (like the book announcements that she talks about) and not "discussion". I hope she feels better about her post-social media life and doesn't get dragged in more than the bare minimum for book announcements.

    6 votes
  4. [10]
    RNG
    Link
    But...she wasn't "cancelled"? She hasn't been deplatformed in any way. Her channel has over a million subscribers. She still gets millions of views on her videos, and she can make a new one...

    But...she wasn't "cancelled"? She hasn't been deplatformed in any way. Her channel has over a million subscribers. She still gets millions of views on her videos, and she can make a new one anytime. She has enough power to have her words reach the mainstream press.

    Is the threshold for "being cancelled" having someone say something mean about you on the internet? If so, just about every woman, LGBTQ person, and person of color has been "cancelled" at some point.

    A slightly uncharitable interpretation of this is as "YouTube drama"; a marketing technique as old as the platform where creators will manufacture controversies to boost SEO. I expect a book deal, new venture, or some other return to content creation.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Macil
      Link Parent
      She's talked about and made a video about the harassment she and many people she associated with faced. Whether "canceled" should be defined to refer to that seems like the least interesting angle...

      She's talked about and made a video about the harassment she and many people she associated with faced. Whether "canceled" should be defined to refer to that seems like the least interesting angle about this.

      12 votes
      1. RNG
        Link Parent
        It's an interesting angle to me, namely because the primary use of the term "cancelling" is the loss of one's platform due to one's misbehavior or bigotry. Best I can tell, all cancelling means is...

        It's an interesting angle to me, namely because the primary use of the term "cancelling" is the loss of one's platform due to one's misbehavior or bigotry.

        Best I can tell, all cancelling means is harassment at this point, since deplatforming is strangely no longer part of the definition. "Cancelling" seems to be a sin that's committed by anyone other than a conservative. You'd never see white supremacist or racist harassment described as "cancelling." But why not? What are we really talking about here, and whose interests are served by this framing of discourse?

        There's a specific connotation and cultural context the term exists within and it's important to consider the broader discussion at play when we interact with this sort of language.

        2 votes
    2. [7]
      mat
      Link Parent
      Ellis didn't need to manufacture drama for SEO, she was doing just fine already. She had multiple ventures and book deals going on long before this. Stuff she's largely had to give up. Just...

      Ellis didn't need to manufacture drama for SEO, she was doing just fine already. She had multiple ventures and book deals going on long before this. Stuff she's largely had to give up. Just because her channel still exists doesn't mean she wasn't pushed off it. She was harassed to the point where she didn't feel safe using social media. Which is precisely what cancellation is.

      If you're not clear on what goes on, you should watch this video by Contrapoints on the topic, who was cancelled for some equally innocuous tweets. Fair warning though, it's pretty hard watch. There's a lot more to it than just a few nasty comments, because like you say, everyone has had that.

      4 votes
      1. [6]
        RNG
        Link Parent
        But again... she isn't cancelled? In ContraPoints case, she is still making content as successfully as ever. I thought being "cancelled" meant you lost your platform, not simply being harassed on...

        who was cancelled for some equally innocuous tweets.

        But again... she isn't cancelled? In ContraPoints case, she is still making content as successfully as ever. I thought being "cancelled" meant you lost your platform, not simply being harassed on the internet.

        2 votes
        1. [5]
          mat
          Link Parent
          You are not right about what being cancelled means. I think you are thinking of being "deplatformed". Being cancelled can lead to deplatforming - either voluntarily or by whoever is hosting the...

          You are not right about what being cancelled means. I think you are thinking of being "deplatformed". Being cancelled can lead to deplatforming - either voluntarily or by whoever is hosting the person in question - but it's not the same thing.

          Watch the video. It's long but it is worth it. Natalie explains everything much better than I can, including the difference between being cancelled and simply being harassed on the internet. Which I suppose you could argue is a "mere" matter of scale, but it's the kind of change in scale where people end up deleting all their accounts, becoming alcoholics, going into therapy for years or in some cases even taking their own lives.

          8 votes
          1. [4]
            RNG
            Link Parent
            If it is a mere matter of scale, how come we don't hear about people being "cancelled" due to racist or fascist violence or harassment, which is a far greater threat at the moment? It seems like...

            Which I suppose you could argue is a "mere" matter of scale, but it's the kind of change in scale where people end up deleting all their accounts, becoming alcoholics, going into therapy for years or in some cases even taking their own lives.

            If it is a mere matter of scale, how come we don't hear about people being "cancelled" due to racist or fascist violence or harassment, which is a far greater threat at the moment? It seems like an immunity for rightists is baked into the definition. The word "cancel" literally started with, and trivially implies deplatforming.

            2 votes
            1. [3]
              mat
              Link Parent
              I think sometimes people just use a phrase like "extreme harassment" or similar. There isn't much difference, functionally. I know the (far/alt/etc) right don't like to think they engage in...

              I think sometimes people just use a phrase like "extreme harassment" or similar. There isn't much difference, functionally. I know the (far/alt/etc) right don't like to think they engage in "cancel culture" but they exhibit the exact same behaviours so y'know. Gets a bit pointless waving semantics around at a certain point.

              I'm not sure whichever definition you're using which somehow includes immunity for the right wing is correct. I'm not certain how that would even work.

              A small problem with your definition, it occurs to me, is that nobody who has been cancelled can talk about it... because they've been cancelled (which is what you said about both Ellis and Wynn). Which makes it rather tricky to talk about, as nobody with experience can speak on the topic. So we're left looking from the outside.

              Did you watch the video? You should watch the video. It will clear up a lot of stuff.

              6 votes
              1. [2]
                RNG
                Link Parent
                What is the definition of "cancelling" then? As far as I can tell most of the discourse around this alleged phenomena is done in bad faith. No one can define "cancelling" because it'd be a bit...

                I'm not sure whichever definition you're using which somehow includes immunity for the right wing is correct. I'm not certain how that would even work.

                What is the definition of "cancelling" then? As far as I can tell most of the discourse around this alleged phenomena is done in bad faith. No one can define "cancelling" because it'd be a bit absurd to be forced to say "specifically non-conservative backlash online" which is precisely how the term is now being used.

                A small problem with your definition, it occurs to me, is that nobody who has been cancelled can talk about it... because they've been cancelled (which is what you said about both Ellis and Wynn).

                If Natalie or Ellis had their YouTube show banned (or hell, even demonitized,) it would be "cancelled" and this article would make an awful lot more sense to me. As it stands, nothing has been described that doesn't fit into the definition of "online harassment", which while truly awful, is not a unique phenomenon.

                It seems here that the function of classifying some harassment as "cancelling" is to shift the primary focus off of the worst and most prevalent online harassment, which is violent bigotry focused solely on causing harm.

                1 vote
                1. mat
                  Link Parent
                  If you want a proper definition watch the video. It will clear up a lot, including the history - with sources - and explanation of the term, as well as the effects it can have on people. I think I...

                  If you want a proper definition watch the video. It will clear up a lot, including the history - with sources - and explanation of the term, as well as the effects it can have on people.

                  If Natalie or Ellis had their YouTube show banned (or hell, even demonitized,) it would be "cancelled" and this article would make an awful lot more sense to me

                  I think I can understand how you'd be confused, going on what I think you think the term means. If you watched the video I linked to then you would be a lot less confused about what other people - including Lindsay Ellis and what happened to her - were talking about.

                  Natalie explains it much, much better than I either can or have time to do. Yes, it's 1hr 40 minutes long but she's got a lot to say on the topic and she is, as always, smart about saying it.

                  It seems here that the function of classifying some harassment as "cancelling" is to shift the primary focus off of the worst and most prevalent online harassment, which is violent bigotry focused solely on causing harm.

                  No, that's not what's happening at all. Cancelling is a specific subset of harassment, that one sort of thing exists doesn't in any way negate a different sort of thing. The article this post originally relates to is about the sort of harassment that happened to Lindsay Ellis specifically, which is commonly referred to a 'cancellation'. I don't see how that has any bearing on any other sort of harassment. At risk of repeating myself, watch the video..

                  6 votes