2020: the year of the cancellation (l) ed Culture

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When life like you know it is canceled, what to do? For some, apparently, the answer is: Google it. In March, as a national emergency was declared and closures began, Americans were searching for that very word, canceled, a tan unprecedented rate. What they hoped to get with such a limited request, only they could know. Maybe they were looking for meaning. Or at least some spelling clarity, since the vast majority of them misspelled the word, with two Ls: canceled.

In a year of subtraction, it’s hard to fault anyone for a little verbal addition, although doubling the consonant when stress falls outside the suffixed syllable has not been the norm in American English for nearly two centuries. Also, there may be a secret contained in this extra L. If an ideal is “an idea,” as Stephen Fry put it, “with a L“, So 2020 is the year canceled become canceled: the idealized form of the idea.

It certainly means more, as a concept. Things canceled in 2020, from concerts and movies to family reunions, weren’t just postponed but caaaaancelllllled, we said, exasperatedly, in texts, emails and slacks, the word stretching with the delays. When was the last dinner? Who remembers living nothing? Nothing could be reprogrammed, because the schedule no longer existed. Even though you pretended it was, let’s try something next month! next year! when things get back to normal, haha! – no one really believed you. 2021 is, in theory, almost upon us, just days away, but it still feels immeasurably distant, as if a second-rate Hitchcock zooms into space while delaying time: a parody of movement. Vomiting or even vomiting may occur.

Actual movement, of course, has been at an all-time low lately, with far fewer people leaving their immediate surroundings. When space shrinks and time expands, we suddenly find ourselves traveling inward – watching ’80s sci-fi, making new personalities online, studying Buddhism, covering ceilings. of our cotton bedroom and LED strips to make it look like a thunderous night sky and / or reflect our storm-shaken souls. Everything to rediscover yourself. Macroculture may have been canceled by 2020, but microcultures have exploded. At the very least, everyone is a little more interested in something, and therefore more interesting, as people.

Or they are crazier, which could be the same. As global as the pandemic is, it has been an intensely personal year, where everything was felt more vividly than ever. Loves widened, hatreds deepened, and many ideas unfolded unchallenged in misty, lonely heads that became ideals. Some people, too angry or frustrated or irritated to move on, made the wrong point at the wrong time and were, as we say now, canceled for it. Or canceled. Whichever way you spell it, it’s become the new flaw, from social to societal. After a year in which we wanted everything to go away, we have become experts, for better or for worse, in mass cancellation – and it’s still written, for no good reason, with two Ls.

Culture canceled:


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