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Michael Jackson’s influence cannot be canceled

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NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT - The other night, as a sort of psycho-cultural experiment, I tried to watch “The Usual Suspects,” for many years one of my favorite movies.

I couldn’t do it.

I stopped less than two minutes in. The film is brilliantly done and has long fascinated me. I used to quote the dialogue all the time. I’m pretty sure I’ll never again quote a single line. All because the film stars Kevin Spacey and was directed by Bryan Singer, both of whom have come down hard as the #MeToo movement storms through the entertainment industry.

Much to my surprise, I seem to have joined what has come to be called “cancel culture.”

Cancel culture is as hotly debated as it is variously defined. At its heart, the term refers to editing one’s own awareness of the world of popular culture, to eliminate from active consciousness the works of those who have been credibly accused of doing terrible things to other people — particularly when they have faced few or no legal consequences.

Amanda Marcotte, writing recently at Salon, puts it this way: “We can’t make them go to jail, the thinking goes, but we can take them off our screens and out of our headphones. It’s an attempt to assert control over a situation where victims and their allies often have none.”

The occasion for Marcotte’s reflection was the back-to-back releases of Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” and HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” — a sad coincidence that has occasioned a great deal of soul searching. Over at the Ringer, a headline asks: “Can the Music of Michael Jackson and R. Kelly Be Canceled?”

This is cancel culture at its best: an appeal at once to the individual’s........

© The Japan Times