Call-out culture

Call-out culture (also known as outrage culture) is a form of public shaming wherein people identify offenses committed by members of their community and publicly "call out" the offenders, thereby shaming or punishing them.[1] Its proponents aim to hold individuals and groups accountable for their actions by calling attention to behavior that is perceived by proponents to be problematic, usually on social media.[2][3]

A variant of the term, cancel culture, describes a form of boycott in which the called-out person is also kicked out of social or professional circles – either on social media or in the real world or both. They are said to be canceled.[4] The expression canceling in reference to cancel culture, has been used since 2015, with its widespread usage beginning in 2018.[5]


Michael Bérubé, a professor of literature at Pennsylvania State University, states, "in social media, what is known as 'callout culture' and 'ally theater' (in which people demonstrate their bona fides as allies of a vulnerable population) often produces a swell of online outrage that demands that a post or a tweet be taken down or deleted".[6]

Lisa Nakamura, a professor at the University of Michigan, described cancel culture as a "cultural boycott", adding that "when you deprive someone of your attention, you're depriving them of a livelihood."[7]

Jonathan Haidt, an American social psychologist, and Greg Lukianoff said that call-out culture originates from what the authors refer to as "safetyism" on campuses saying it "teaches students to see words as violence and to interpret ideas and speakers as safe versus dangerous, rather than merely as true versus false"[8]

The American animated television series South Park mocked cancel culture with its own "#CancelSouthPark" campaign in promotion of the show's twenty-second season.[9][10] The season's third episode, "The Problem with a Poo", has been described as "[taking] on the entire concept of 'cancel culture'," with references to the controversies about the Simpsons' character Apu (the topic of the documentary The Problem with Apu), the cancellation of Roseanne after controversial tweets by the show's eponymous actress, and the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.[11]

Cancel culture is one of the major subjects of Dave Chappelle's stand-up comedy film Stick & Stones and Bill Burr's stand-up comedy film Paper Tiger.[12]

See also


  1. Haidt, Jonathan; Lukianoff, Greg (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0-73522489-6.
  2. Sills, Sophie; Pickens, Chelsea; Beach, Karishma; Jones, Lloyd; Calder-Dawe, Octavia; Benton-Greig, Paulette; Gavey, Nicola (1 November 2016). "Rape Culture and Social Media: Young Critics and a Feminist Counterpublic". Feminist Media Studies. 16 (6): 935–951. doi:10.1080/14680777.2015.1137962. ISSN 1468-0777.
  3. Munro, Ealasaid (2013). "Feminism: A Fourth Wave?". Political Insight. 4 (2): 22–25. doi:10.1111/2041-9066.12021. ISSN 2041-9058.
  4. McDermott, John (2 November 2019). "Those People We Tried to Cancel? They're All Hanging Out Together". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 November 2019 via
  5. Kinos-Goodin, Jesse (3 December 2018). "Have We Hit Peak Cancel Culture?". CBC Radio. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  6. Bérubé, Michael (2018). "The Way We Review Now". Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. 133 (1): 132–138. doi:10.1632/pmla.2018.133.1.132. ISSN 0030-8129.
  7. Bromwich, Jonah Engel (28 June 2018). "Everyone Is Canceled". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  8. Haidt, Jonathan; Lukianoff, Greg (2018). The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure. New York: Penguin Press. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-73522489-6.
  9. Andrews, Travis M. (17 October 2018). "How 'South Park' Became the Ultimate #bothsides Show". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  10. Edwards, Chris (20 November 2018). "Post-outrage TV: How South Park Is Surviving the Era of Controversy". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
  11. Joho, Jess (12 October 2018). "Why the Latest Season of 'South Park' Feels Like a Total Game-changer". Mashable. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  12. Stand up:

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