Around this time last year, I wrote a short article for this blog about what I thought were the dangers of cancel culture and negative comments on artistic works. I thought it unfair and unnecessary to draw out so much negativity and bad will towards something that someone poured so much of their heart and soul into. However, through my own experiences and changes that I have dealt with, I now know that sometimes those harsh words are warranted.
The intent that goes into making something is particularly important, as well as the understanding of the messages that you are illustrating in your work, and it is becoming less and less likely to fully separate an artist’s life from the works that they create.
But this also extends to a creator’s words, actions and beliefs. With everything that has been happening recently, what with J.K Rowling’s blatant push of transphobic ideology, and the passionate resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, the need and importance of accountability is bigger than ever. The beliefs and ideologies that we are raised with affect us greatly, as well as how we treat others. But we must also not take these beliefs for granted. We must look outside of them and into ourselves, to find out who we are and what we can bring to the world.
We all make mistakes. Each and every one of us is guided by subconscious ideas and beliefs that affect us and others around us. There is a certainty beauty in that individuality, but this often leads to conflicting points of view. In today’s climate, there is an ever-present need to hold ourselves accountable and accept that we are part of the problem, or accept that fact that we are making a problem ourselves by our beliefs and behaviours.
However, this idea of accountability is easier said than done. No one wants to admit they are the bad guy. It’s uncomfortable and in this idea of either being right or wrong, there is a certain fear of labels. They are too broad. This ingrained belief that in a disagreement, in a conflict, there is always two sides or perspectives, battling for dominance, not only divides us but doesn’t encourage open discussion. This fear holds people back from expressing their own ideas and beliefs for fear of harsh judgement. We all live in a grey area, where the ideas of right and wrong may not be clearly defined, but lately this grey area has been called into question, and for good reason. We cannot hide behind it when it comes to contributing to the harm and discrimination of others.
However, these labels are still needed to hold ourselves and each other to certain standards. Racism and discrimination are both very harmful and should not even be happening, but they happen because we judge, and separate ourselves from what we do not know or care to know. Human rights issues are commonly up for debate, but we must debate how to work on these issues, and not the issues themselves. The fact that there are people suffering means that these experiences are happening, but what we do, or not do about it, is ultimately up to us. This is what we must hold ourselves accountable for.
But how are these boundaries going to be pushed? How are we going going to get through to others if we are not going to relate to them or try and make them empathise with the pain of those they are hurting?
We are humanising ideologies and dehumanizing each other. The lives of others and their rights should not be tied to politics, like everything else seems to be. They are human rights issues. These issues must be treated as separate entities from politics but use the impact of politics to spread these messages. Racism and discrimination are so nuanced and so ingrained into a lot of people’s way of life that it is going to take a lot of time of unlearning to really understand how those affected are affected. And even then, we cannot fully understand.
Now that all these calls for justice are dying down, and you see less and less about them on our feeds and stories, it all just seems very performative. With that being said, can you blame members of these groups calling out people, celebrities, industries, and institutions for their lack of commitment? We need community, we need sustainable change, and we need a game plan.
It is disheartening to me to see that a lot of this has died down, including in myself. I feel at a loss now that there does not seem to be that much happening with regards to these issues, and there is only so much that I can do as one person. It is funny, and yet sad, as to how much the lack of reactions or actions of others can make your own actions seem so small and insignificant. But beliefs can change, and so can people.
It is also important to hold ourselves accountable for the actions we take and the words that we say as individuals, not just as a community. I have been working on holding myself accountable with my own unhealthy behaviours and how these have affected my relationships in the past. I have made many mistakes, and I am learning to deal with accepting them and gaining the skills to avoid repeating them.
That is something that I must work on, and I am not proud of it. But I want to do better, and I am trying to do better. So here I am, holding myself accountable. I must. We all must. Being honest about our imperfections, being vulnerable, and being open to change is the only way that we can move forward. We are not our ideas, works, or our beliefs, but we must acknowledge the impacts they have on us, and our own powers in transmitting and reproducing them for others.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed reading some of my thoughts! How are you trying to hold yourself accountable these days?
Written by: Alexia DeBono
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