When it comes to the rise of cancel culture, “The Good Place” star Jameela Jamil thinks there are some positive aspects, but that it is vital that people separate “ignorance from evil” when it comes to who we as a society decide to forgive and who is beyond re-acceptance.
“I think it’s important to make sure that we are clear on the fact that there are some people who do irrevocable harm and they make the same mistakes repeatedly,” the I Weigh Community founder told Dr. Deepika Chopra, the founder of Things Are Looking Up, during a panel at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit. “We have to have boundaries for how many times you can overstep the line in a way that will actually harm or endanger a marginalized group.”
Jamil used “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling as an example of someone “who is just doubling down on harmful misinformation sometimes about a certain group,” following repeated backlash she has received for her comments about transgender people.
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“I think in those instances — it’s not my place to decide to cancel anyone — but I think that she would have to do significant work and make significant amends in order to be able to be reaccepted by certain communities who stand against her values,” Jamil said. “Harvey Weinstein, all these kinds of different people — not to say that they are equal in their harm, I’m just giving examples of people who have done irrevocable harm.”
The actress says it is for this reason that it’s important to be “boundaried in the ways in which we decide who gets to accept and forgive whom.”
“But I definitely think that we also need to learn how to separate ignorance from evil,” she added. “I think that we always assume that if anyone makes a mistake or uses the wrong word or perhaps doesn’t yet understand pronouns, for example, or understanding disabled access, it doesn’t mean that they actively hate the group that they don’t know about, it doesn’t mean that they want to actively infringe upon their rights. It just means that they now need to learn. And I think if someone shows that they’re receptive, if someone is willing to be fully apologetic and then make effort to not just say the right thing, but to do the right thing. I think action is the thing that we really need. And I do think that while cancel culture has become very toxic, it has been an amazing tool to wake people up. To make them realize that you can’t just put an apology on your notes app online or say sorry to someone who is a colleague of yours at work and then just get away with it, that you are pressured to actually come back and be and do better and be accountable and responsible.”
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Jamil warned that even though cancel culture has been “incredibly helpful,” she thinks “we’ve now turned a corner where we’ve become so trigger happy with it that I worry we are discouraging people from putting their hands up” and she does not want to see us “protect the silent” and “savage those who try.”
Readers can watch Jamil’s full panel, titled “Celebrating Progress, Not Perfection,” via the video above.
The Power Women Summit, presented by the WrapWomen Foundation, is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The Summit aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s all-virtual PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe to promote “Inclusion 360,” this year’s theme.