Reviewing the developmental systems of contemporary call-out culture.
By Temwani Nyama
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY News.
The recent weeks’ events have displayed the growing practice of call-out culture on social platforms. The social practice has concerned itself with international figures like D*ja Cat with her little corner of the internet for racist incels and the perceptions of her projections of internalised anti-blackness. Added to this list is T*ra B*nks with the reviewing of her 24 cycles of regressive social experiments throughout the seasons of Am*rica’s N*xt T*p M*del. The practice has also concerned itself with local figures like Bi*nca Sch**mbee, N*colli N*trass and S*zette St*yn and the overtly racist stances they have reflected on varying platforms like social media and academia. However, the ‘founding fathers’ of socially regressive behaviour include the likes of B*ll Cosby, R-K*lly, H*rvey W*instein and J*ffrey Epst*in and it’s figures like the aforementioned that became the impetus for the extension of call-out culture to cancel culture—an extension that in some ways is indicative of the developmental nature of critical systems of call-out culture.
It’s no mystery that captions like, “This you?” or “Twitter, do your thing,” are always shortly followed by threads of archived screenshots, screen/voice recordings and firsthand accounts of regressive ideas certain individuals have reflected or violent interactions others have had with them. These are the initial procedures on social media that work for the means of awareness in order to garner support to hold individuals accountable.
However, what follows from this are consequential formal procedures like occupational demotion, legal proceedings and petition development (specific to the context) etc, that all work to gradually limit the access these violent ideas and behaviours have to different dimensions of society as well as for means of compensation. This is how the social practice now manifests as a quasi-robust system of accountability-holding.
In looking at it this way, the practice zeros in less on individuals and more on limiting possibilities for instances of violence—whether in interpersonal or ideological. Essentially, call-out/cancel culture is the way we regulate and guarantee the prospects of movements of social progression. The practice is reflective of a collective and critical consciousness we share about the world around us and in thinking of social accountability like this, I can’t help but think what ‘Rainbow nation’ S*uth Afr*ca would actually look like had the Tr*th and R*conc*liation C*mm*sion been constituted by Twitter users.
*The use of the asterisk throughout the article is for the purposes of parody in mimicking normalised practices on social media platforms.
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