Click here to learn more about this new series from Edge Studios, and follow @npquarterly and @offthehookshorts on social to see episodes of “Off the Hook” as they are released.


(Saphia lies on her bed, thinking.)

SAPHIA: My biggest beef with cancel culture is that it’s a dominant practice. It is—domination is defined as rule, sway, or control, which is often arbitrary. And in this last month, as I’ve paid extra attention to the insidious nature of cancel culture, I’ve realized how much arbitrary control cancel culture has in the lives of nearly everyone around me. I hear the phrase used almost every day. When I’m talking to my friend about his Halloween costume, and he mentions that he and his partner are going as characters that fit their race so that they don’t get cancelled. The woman checking out my groceries at Trader Joe’s, who mentions how we had a Native American summer in New York this year, and then stops herself, muttering that she does not want to be cancelled. Many could argue that this self-regulation that cancel culture sparked in my friends and the woman at Trader Joe’s checkout are good; and I do not disagree. The outcome, perhaps, is good. But notice—my friends did not say, “We’re dressing up as racially aligned characters to ensure we do not harm anyone else with our costumes.” The checkout person did not say, “My apologies, I did not mean to offend the Native American community.” Both comments instead centered fear; fear of being cancelled, of being ostracized. That is control—mindless, shame- or fear-centered. It is not liberatory. And the way change happens matters just as much as the change itself. Dominant practices get us nowhere—the master’s tools, and all that. 

(Saphia approaches the camera, peers into it, then blocks it with her hand. Blackout. Fade in outro.)