Farewell to idols – Culture / Next

This post comes from the daily newsletter of the Culture department of Release, sent free of charge every evening.

Among the highlights of the excellent Ohio by Stephen Markley, the first novel which received the Grand Prix for American Literature on November 14, we retain a dialogue between two young girls, Tina and Stacey, on a question that concerns them a lot, Hell. The first, who seems to know like the fingertips of the least of the tortures incurred by the damned under the pitchforks of sexually frustrated demons, is convinced that she will never go, since she has accepted Jesus in her heart; the second, on the contrary, is worried about our essential inability to stay on the right track all our life to avoid slipping into eternal torment: “But what if we go anyway?” We can never do everything well. ”

Dissonance among activists

A metaphysical case study which allows to integrate the inescapable debate around the “cancel culture” in that of very long date around the possibility of an absolute integrity of the human being, and which is relaunched with drums and trumpets since Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a very popular progressive icon since the success ofAmericanah, whose powerfully articulate voice carried even in a song by Beyoncé (Flawless, in 2014), defended in an interview with Guardian published Sunday by JK Rowling – mother of Harry Potter who had become an emblem of the TERF (transphobic feminist) and consequently “canceled” by a generation of readers who thought they had learned tolerance in their books. Defending not only JK Rowling herself but the famous article that won her vox non grata among the progressives, Ngozi Adichie goes further by accusing the United States of exporting all over the world “The worst of censorship and self-censorship […]. Now you have to be very careful: if you say a wrong word, you must be crucified in an instant. ”

Where to put this ally if she joins the camp of the signatories of the famous toxic “letter” against cultural censorship, catapulted by the magazine Harper’s this summer and which one would almost have the feeling that she has finished splitting the world of ideas in two? The dissonance among militants about it interests us, in that it reminds us that the decision to “cancel” an artistic or political personality is not made lightly; often, for many, it is even heartbreaking down to the most intimate level, especially if it is a question of dedicating a figure that we thought we were a fan of to gemonies, with all the social activity online that this can lead to. In other words, a sacrifice of which we ourselves would be among the victims.

“Woke” activism and “fandom” culture

Many of those who admonish the activists of the “cancel culture” nevertheless deem them angry with the history, the long term and the complexity, believing that most of them act too quickly, out of herd effect or out of horror of evil and evil. ‘to be corrupt themselves. But if the discord between the activists of social networks and the authors who reproach them for their orthodoxy has only just begun, we are astonished that no one has thought of seeing in “woke” activism a political derivative, and probably more crucial, of the culture of “fandom”, which consists in building a world and a set of values ​​through an artist or a collective. Certainly, men and women tend to become a little too quickly, in the debates they are the subject of on Twitter, devils, queens or heroes; but one can undoubtedly see in this marching Manichaeism the imprint of the most pragmatic militancy rather than that of the resurgence of a moral homily which would not speak its name.


Olivier Lamm

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