Cancel Culture

Cancel Culture, as defined by Cambridge Dictionary, is "a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you"1.

After reading the definition of Cancel Culture, it might sound very familiar to you, to the point where you can easily come up with a few examples.

One recent example that comes to mind is the experience of Zhao Ting, who is best known as the stepdaughter of the well-known Chinese actress Song Dandan2. She has been frequently featured in the news in the past couple of years due to her directorial film "Nomadland" winning the Best Motion Picture - Drama at the 78th Golden Globe Awards, along with the Best Director award.

Recently, during the Oscars, "Nomadland" lived up to expectations and won the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress awards for Zhao Ting. However, the response on Chinese social media was unusually calm for such a prestigious film event. Upon investigation, it was discovered that Zhao Ting and "Nomadland" had already been labeled as sensitive terms and were banned.

Curiosity led me to explore the reasons behind this, why a director who is well-known in China and has been previously celebrated by Chinese media as a Chinese pride has become a banned figure. After digging through various sources, I came across an article that mentioned Zhao Ting's interview with the American film magazine "Filmmaker" in 2013. In the interview, she reflected on her childhood and described China at that time as "a place full of lies."

Zhao Ting said, "It goes back to when I was a teenager in China, being in a place where there are lies everywhere. I received a lot of incorrect information when I was young, and I became very rebellious towards my family and background. So, I suddenly went to the UK, relearned my history, and studying political science at a liberal arts college was a way for me to understand the essence of things, to arm myself with information, and then challenge it."

A statement from eight years ago, which cannot be considered as insulting to the country, has been included in a "blacklist"? And as a result, it led to a nationwide ban on her. It truly baffles me. It not only makes me reflect on the act of extracting fragments of someone's words from years ago and using them to define a person's values, but also questions the meaningfulness of it.

Looking back at the entry for Cancel Culture, her experience seems to be the best illustration.


  1. Entry for Cancel Culture:

  2. Zhao Ting: Born in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Her father is the former general manager of Capital Iron and Steel Company, Zhao Yujie, her birth mother is a hospital worker, and her stepmother is actress Song Dandan.

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