Saturday, 4 July 2020

It's Time to Cancel Cancel Culture

The title of this post is inaccurate. It is not time to cancel cancel culture, it is past time to cancel cancel culture. Cancel culture should never have existed in the first place. I can see some of you vigurously shaking your heads - maybe you think it's about holding people accountable for their words or actions.

It's not.

Back at the beginning of the pandemic crisis, before the lockdown had started in the UK, I saw a tweet that said (paraphrased), when can we start publically shaming people for going out?

People still needed to go into work.

Children were still expected to go into school. 

And this person wanted to start publically shaming people for leaving the house. 

That's what cancel culture is about - that's what it has always been about - grabbing the virtual pitchforks and torches and setting the wrath of the entirely unregulated court of public opinion loose.

Don't believe me? Think about it like this. Some people have been cancelled over tweets that are four or five years old. Tweets have a tiny lifespan. When people are no longer retweeting them, they fade quietly from the feed and are only visible on the person's profile. To find those tweets, someone has picked that person and deliberately combed through their profile until they've found something they can use to cancel them. They then boost this view that, remember, they find morally unpalatable so that it's seen by as many people as possible. It's not logical. If you don't want a negative view to spread, don't share it or comment on it so that it's seen by all of your followers.

But it's holding them accountable -

Really? For something they haven't said anything about in that length of time? Doesn't that suggest the person has changed?

Then come the apologies, which are never enough to satisfy the baying mob. Perhaps the person leaves social media or takes a break, at which point the people cancelling them either celebrate or deride them as a coward. It's an unwinnable situation. 

The worst thing about that tweet, for me, was that it smacked of a privilege that has been reflected in the news. Throughout lockdown, our national papers have been packed full of people on buses, trains, and the tube. Look at these people. Look at how irresponsible they're being. Why isn't the government doing anything? These are people who needed to get to work. Some of them will be on the front line at the hospital, or keeping the supermarket shelves stocked so we can eat. Not everyone can drive. Some choose not to, some are unable to due to age or health, and some cannot afford to. There are places, such as London, where people are actively discouraged from driving by, at the very least, the high congestion charge. The media has made a sport of shaming people for going out - even when they need to - and here this person was, presumably able to remain at home even pre-lockdown, calling for blood and inciting others to do the same. Not a single comment disagreed with them. Not a single comment told them to simmer down, to try and consider the situations of others. People were falling over each other to agree that this was the good and moral thing.

And that's the really insidious thing about cancel culture.

It encourages this creeping culture of shame where people feel the need to virtue-signal online. The sum of your tweets, your blog posts, your Facebook posts are not your contribution to the world. Posting on your social media isn't necessarily helping anything and, whilst I don't think there's anything wrong with adding your voice, people shouldn't be shamed for not posting. When you tell someone they shouldn't talk about the things that make them happy when there is so much horror going on in the world, you encourage them to feel ashamed for not talking about the rainforest dying, or palm oil, or terrible personal experiences which, for some reason, you feel you have the right to hear about.
You don't know what this person is doing off the internet. You don't know if they're making small changes in their daily lives, donating money to charity, lobbying the government via petitions or protests. It's possible to help make a change without waving a flag about it on the internet. You also don't know if this is their five minutes of the day in which they're not working or being bombarded by negative news outlets. For an era in which we like to believe that we allow people to be the truest versions or themselves, we sure like to shame them for talking about the things that bring them joy.

If you don't like something, unfollow. If something is morally unpalatable to you, unfollow. If you don't think someone's using their platform in "the right way", unfollow.  

The internet will be a less toxic place for it. 

What do you think? Does cancel culture have a place online, or is it time to show it the door?

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

June Wrap-up

...And we're officially halfway through the year. I turn 23 in two weeks and I have decided that time spent in lockdown should not count.

News from the Reading Front

This month, I've gotten through nineteen books. This is mostly due to me getting sucked into a new manga series at the tail end of last month and blasting through all of the currently translated volumes at an alarming rate. My bank balance is thankful that I've hit a forced stopping point. My brain is not. The next one drops at the end of next month and it is the first new release I've put in my phone calendar in a long time.

News from the Writing Front

I'm closing in on the end of Part One of my story with my edits. Every time I scroll back to check something, I find a new typo. I may need to redo said edits. 👍👍

News from the Net
  •  The English translation of Days Volume 19 by Tsuyoshi Yasuda drops on the 28th July.
How was your June?

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Do Real Life Friends and Family Know About Your Blog?

I will have had my blog for five years in November. Some of my friends know I have a blog, but I've never given them the name. My family have never even heard it mentioned.

Somehow, it's easier to put yourself out there on the internet for complete strangers to see.

Early on, I spent a lot of time moderating the language I used, trying not to come across as "too" passionate, "too" nerdy, "too" bouncing-off-the-walls with excitement. It's (hopefully) obvious that I gave up on that a while back. Be yourself, right? That's what the stories tell us. 

Except, at some point, we all notice that when people say, "be yourself," what they really mean is, "be a version of yourself that we can manage."

I think it would be next to impossible for me to be myself on my blog if people I knew were reading it. I wouldn't feel comfortable screaming my absolute, undiluted love of something from the rooftops. It's easy not to care what strangers think, to some degree. There are certain criticisms which should make you take a step back and take stock of yourself as a person, but, for the most part, the opinions of strangers don't mean anything. They don't know you, after all. Judgement is harder to take from someone you love, someone whose opinion you care about. It's harder to hear them talk down about the things you feel passionate about, and to talk down about you for putting that passion out there. 

I know that not all of the posts on my blog are great. Bluntly, I think a lot of them aren't. There are some terrible character name posts that I wrote a while back, a post that is among one of my most popular that I hate, even a couple of discussions and reviews I posted recently that I think could have been better written. I've thought about deleting my whole blog, my Twitter, all of it, at times, and vanishing into the ether. Social media is a volatile, unforgiving place with a long memory. I'm not sure I'm confident enough to be putting myself out there as it is, without the risk of being discovered by the people I know in real life.


I like my blog. I've put a lot of time and effort into it. It would be daft to delete it on a whim just because of what I think (or know) some of the people I love would say. At some point, you have to live for yourself, but that doesn't mean you have to share it.

I'm curious, how many of you share your blog with real life friends and family?

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

I've Been Dying to Talk About This for Days (You're Watching Wednesday #10)

Good morning. I'm Hannah -

(- And I'm Ivy.)

And -

Today we're talking about Days. Days is a sports anime, based on the manga by Tsuyoshi Yasuda, about, of all things, football. I'm fairly sure that if any member of my family heard that I had watched (and enjoyed) a show about football, they would die of shock. 

But here we are.

Tsukamoto is a quiet, socially anxious teenager just starting at Seiseki high school. He has literally nothing going for him and then he meets Kazama, who invites him to a futsal game. Tsukamoto has never played before and he sucks, but he really enjoys himself. He decides to join Kazama in trying out for the Seiseki football team. This feels like a good time to point out that this is not an underdog story outside of the protagonist. Seiseki is one of the top four high school teams in Tokyo, with fifty years of history behind them. It goes without saying that the team is aiming for Nationals, because this is a sports anime, and that is what sports anime teams do. 

Given his lack of skill, it should be unbelievable that Tsukamoto gets to play in matches for Seiseki at all. However the team captain, Mizuki, started playing in a very similar position to him, so clearly they're used to complete beginners just rocking up and going like hell until they succeed. A lot of sports series like to play with the idea of hard work vs natural talent. For the most part, Days comes down on the hard work side of the scale. Mizuki is one of the best players in the country and managed to reach that point by his third year through nothing but hard work. On the other side of the coin, Kazama and Ooshiba are both prodigies, but Kazama never truly felt like part of a team until joining Seiseki and Ooshiba's been resting on his laurels for so long that he's not reaching his full potential. Overall, I think the series usually strikes a nice balance between the two: talent exists, but it's not a substitute for hard work, which is true enough. The one exception to this is (maybe) Tsukamoto. Within half a year, he catches up to the other first years in terms of skill with hard work alone, to the point where Kurusu and Nitobe are both scared of being outdone by him. I didn't clock how ridiculous that was until Nitobe mentioned that he'd been playing for ten years and had worn out SIXTY FIVE pairs of football boots. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to wear out six and a half pairs of football boots per year - like, Jesus Christ, kid, have some chill - but it also makes it very difficult to believe that Tsukamoto is working that much harder than the other first years. Also, I'm now rooting for Nitobe way more than I am for Tsukamoto, which I don't think was the writer's goal.

We need to talk about the characters, because they're the strongest point of this series. If there's one thing you can say about Days, it's that every character gets their moment to shine. (Okay, "shine" might be the wrong word - when Nitobe finally got some character focus, he got smacked by Sod's Law so hard I'm not surprised he got injured, and Kurusu spent basically all his time on the pitch frozen with nerves.) Tsukamoto is a socially anxious, over-apologetic bean, but he's scrappy and, honestly, as someone who tries way too hard, I kind of get it. He starts out almost like a team mascot - someone who comes on to raise moral - but by the end of the Keiou match he's damn useful as a player too. Kazama is oddly flat, considering he's the deuteragonist. He's the obligatory prodigy, but he's much more laidback than most examples and seems to be hiding a surprising amount of angst behind his cheery personality. One of my favourite characters was Kimishita. He's a glorious mess of contradictions, being cool, collected, and intelligent, but also easily baited into losing his temper, and a little bit arrogant, but hiding a lot of insecurity. There's also Mizuki, the captain, who seems to live on another planet, Usui, who is soft-spoken, supportive, and TERRIFYING, Ooshiba, an idiot with a tonne of natural talent and an ego to match, high-energy Haibara, who uses his head to cover for his height disadvantage, and Inohara, the goalie, who looks far more intimidating than he really is. The team manager, Ubukata, is cynical enough to have given up on her own dreams a long time ago (she's only 15). She's tough on the team (especially the first years), but she's looking out for them in her own way. 

Before I wrap this up, I have to talk about the Keiou match.
Me watching the Keiou match

It's the final match of the anime and also the most intense of the whole series. Don't get me wrong, this is a series that knows how to use characters and the dynamics between them to keep things interesting. The tiff Taira orchestrated between Mizuki and Kimishita in the Seikan match? Iconic. The somehow friendly and yet weirdly vitriolic rivalry between Sakuragi High and Seiseki? Valid. Minami's sparkly hair? Something I will never (ever) be over. But the match against Keiou is something else entirely. Seiseki has all three of their arrows (their three forwards) out and yet they still cannot win underdog points against Keiou. I'm sorry, we have spent a whole season with the Seiseki boys and they're great, but their team is built on legacy, whereas the Keiou team has only been around for two years. They don't have a team reputation to fall back on, they're forging a new one with their skills alone. Like, girl, hold my drink, I'm switching allegiances. (Okay, I'm not, but it was a near thing.) 

Do they win or lose? No spoilers. 😉

Which shows have become your unlikely favourites?

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The Hufflepuff Book Tag

As you may (or may not) know, I tend to get sorted into Hufflepuff on Sorting Hat quizzes.

(One time she came out as more of a Ravenclaw, but we don't talk about that.)

Lies and slander, as per ususal. 

I was tagged on Twitter by Joanne @ Joannotations to do the Hufflepuff book tag. This tag was originally created by Abigail @ Abigail's Book Corner.  

Harry Potter
Which Harry Potter book is your favourite?
This is a difficult question, because I finished reading this series when I was ten. (I just googled the release date of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and I am struggling to believe that it came out only a week after I turned ten. I could have sworn I was older.) Since then, I've read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and reread Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone once.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is maybe one of the most intricately plotted books I've ever read, but my favourite character was always Ginny and she's not in it (much), and I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (although there wasn't any quidditch in it), and I seem to remember really liking Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Hufflepuffs are Known for their undying loyalty. Name an insta-buy author.


Maggie Stiefvater. I just love her writing style.

Animals/Magical Creatures
 Name a book/series that has your favourite animal/magical creature in it.

Becoming a dolphin is all fun and games until a shark literally rips off your tail and you start bleeding out in the middle of the ocean.

Name a series in which none of the books disappointed you.

+Anima by Natsumi Mukai is a fun coming-of-age manga about four young people who possess powers related to animals (crow wings, bat wings and ears, a fish tail, etc. etc.). It's packed with adventure and it's very, very cute.

 Name a book/series whose main character holds a special place in your heart.

Let's have some relatable superhero appreciation!

Stephanie Brown (AKA Spoiler, Robin, Batgirl) and Kamala Khan (AKA Ms. Marvel) are my favourite DC and Marvel superheroes respectively. 

Stephanie has a hilarious inner monologue, is determined to a fault, and doing her best (goddammit!).

Kamala is an energetic, intelligent, unapologetic geek balancing trying to fit in at school with being a teenage superhero.

They're both just fun characters to read all round.

Name a book/series that you love despite its flaws and imperfections.

This book is very sixties and, at the end, the protagonist reacts to her baby lying in a black cot as if it's been flung from the top of a church spire, but I still devoured it in a night.

You can read my review here.

Name a book you struggled to get through, but stuck it out until the end.
Pamela by Samuel Richardson. I needed the right to criticise it, okay? 

(You can read all about her hatred for it here.) 

 What's your Hogwarts House?
(And, if you're a Hufflepuff, consider yourself tagged!)