From the writer;
“Sitting in a circle with classmates as one normally does, this question was driven into the depths of my skull like a terrific railroad spike: what on earth does one make of Stan Culture and Cancel Culture?”
This is exactly the kind of question I need to ponder; this is the kind of question we all need to ponder.
As with all important philosophical questions, we have to clearly define what we mean in order to reach a sound conclusion; what is Stan Culture defined as for our purposes?
Stan Culture is the culture of being extremely supportive of certain celebrities or figures because of the ease of access to their lives through the internet, sometimes to the point where one often defends and nearly worships a celebrity and attributes to them superhuman infallibility or abilities.
The word stan comes from the song “Stan” by Eminem put out in 2000 detailing a particularly odd and overzealous Eminem fan. Since, it has undergone the transformation into meaning just about any good fan, thanks to a good deal of joking and hyperbole.
Why is this important? Media occupies just about every part of our lives and by extension, those who are important in media can influence those around us. We may even stan (be stans of) a figure who conflicts with other people’s chosen idol.
This conflict is where we see cancel culture rise where certain figures are shunned or berated, otherwise known and canceled, for their actions and their remaining supporters engage in endless debate. When we reach such irreconcilable differences, what can we do?
Allow me to speak for someone I stan to answer this difficult question. Who? Why, none other than one of the enlightenment era’s most prominent English philosophers, John Locke.
In our times we can witness any number of conflicts between stans that will never be resolved, for example, those who stan Pete Davidson or those who stan Ariana Grande.
Should you mention one of these two icons positively in the presence of someone who supports the other, you will likely instantly become berated and the situation will devolve into petty fighting.
What would Locke say about this? He would, upon seeing a particularly nasty bout of rivalry, say something like, “now, I appeal to the consciences of those who persecute, wound, torture, and ostracize other men on the excuse of ‘their stan being canceled,’ whether or not they do this in a spirit of friendship and kindness.”
For Locke, even though he stanned only one being deep in his heart, advocated a total freedom of expression for those stanning anyone else. He argued that not only is it distasteful to silence stans but entirely counterproductive and “toxic.”
He did not argue that stans are equally correct, some may very well have a good reason to not like this or that figure, but what Locke preached was tolerance on issues that are really unsolvable to the common person.
No peace and security can exist among each other as long as people think they can derive the authority from whomever they stan to shame and force others to renounce who they take interest in.
As Locke would probably not say but definitely would agree with, that is the tea, sis, cancel culture is canceled.