A Hot Take On Marley Jaxx’s Cancel Culture Documentary + Social Experiment [please do not use my words to cancel anyone m’kay?]
It’s with a strange combination of embarrassment, frustration, and amusement that I write this post.
In our little micro-bubble of Internet Marketing, two fairly well-known personalities… Marley Jaxx and Dan Henry, sought to make a point about cancel culture through a social experiment. They purposely lied to their entire community of followers for nearly 48 hours to capture real-time reactions to online behavior for a YouTube documentary.
Hindsight is always 20/20.
This hot take is 100% editorialized and from my point of view ONLY. I also ask that if you’re going to comment on this, please read all the way to the end.
First, you should know that I personally know both Dan and Marley. I have a longer connection with Dan than Marley, but prior to this, I would say I have a pretty good idea about their general online persona. I think both of them know me fairly well too.
A few days ago, Dan’s post showed up in my feed. It was April 19th at around 10pm at night.
I haven’t commented much on Dan’s feed these days, mainly because of a lot of it is super polarizing, I’m tired, and I don’t have the energy to “spokesperson” in the comments and bat off the haters that can’t stand me.
But this one stopped me in my tracks.
I was 100% triggered by it. And I knew it.
The idea that Dan would air someone else’s alleged dirty laundry without context was infuriating. Mainly because it’s happened to me.
I haven’t spoken publicly about it, and can’t right now either, but I felt so much sadness that on top of whatever she might be going through, Dan was using his platform to make it infinitely worse.
And Dan isn’t some perfect personality. Why would he perpetuate cancel culture when he damn well knows what it feels like?
I decided to go to bed, and respond in the morning if it was still on my mind. I wasn’t going to let my trigger pull me into a fight.
I woke up super early that morning, and around 6:30am with a decent night sleep in me, I wrote a comment I felt encapsulated my thoughts and feelings without attacking anyone.
That whole morning, I kept thinking about cancel culture. About how unfair it is that people are held in their past, even if there’s only one side of the story being told, even if they’re sorry, even if there were complicating factors.
I didn’t want to “cancel” Dan either, I just wanted him to stop pouring gasoline on the fire.
I went to Marley’s timeline that morning and saw her cryptic post and gave her some love.
Thursday was a busy day for me, so I spent a lot of the morning in meetings.
At around 1:00pm, Dan basically 10xed the attention by posting a screenshot of Marley begging him to take it down.
When this screenshot went up, I was hella conflicted. On the one hand, it was cringe level 10 that he was posting this. On the other hand, it seemed almost unbelievable.
My intuition went off. It was like “Wait… this is SO out of character for even someone as polarizing as Dan.” This time I didn’t give it a good night sleep. I just immediately responded.
This comment got a lot of conversation. I even got a few drive by haters.
It was clear that whatever was going on, Dan was stirring the pot BIG TIME (or so I thought).
By the end of the day, I was starting to sniff out that this appeared to be an act. And even if it was, my feelings and emotions were 100% real. I was feeling confused, annoyed, and sad. I wanted people to know that no matter how hard you shit on someone, they are still human.
At first, I wasn’t going to put anything on my timeline about Dan or Marley. I didn’t want to be “that” person. And honestly, a lot of people like to offer unsolicited advice, saying things like…
- “Keep your head down and just work and ignore the bullshit.”
- “Don’t give it any attention.”
- “Not your monkey not your mess.”
It’s not wrong advice technically.
But for me… this wasn’t just your typical slow-down-to-watch-the-carwreck-moment. This is a VERY real and present issue in my life (and has been) and something I would typically write about.
It’s like asking a talking head sportscaster NOT to talk about some controversial referee call at a high-stakes game.
Of course I was going to talk about it. Sometimes people want someone to say what they don’t know how to say.
I went ahead and put up a post about forgiveness and remembering that people are human.
On Friday, there was no new information. Dan was still stoking the fire a bit (as he loves to do), and various comments continued to float in, but I was still annoyed, and couldn’t quite pinpoint why.
At about 2:30pm, I finally decided to vox Dan privately. And we proceeded to talk for an hour and a half.
He never once gave up that he was in on the social experiment, but it was pretty obvious to me that the Dan I was talking to, was not the same person acting like a maniac on social media.
People were DMing me with questions, some were over in Boise ID with Marley at Inner Circle and it was clear by her silence, by the way people were talking, that this was staged and we were going to hear about it soon.
Honestly? It really didn’t help my mood. I’d spent all this bandwidth wondering, thinking, trying to understand, and to find out it was going to be some big reveal, felt like I was being used in an experiment for a few likes.
Her post about her upcoming livestream and request to comment “I’m in” – left a SOUR taste in my mouth. This was the first moment I felt angry.
I promised Dan I’d watch (he kept asking if I would) and now I see why. When I watched the livestream, Marley quickly admitted that this had been all her idea, she put Dan up to it, and Dan was just playing his part. Side note – Dan should be in the movies. I’ve said it for years. I maintain my position.
The livestream basically explained the social experiment and pushed people to watch a documentary on YouTube.
I was not amused. This felt annoying AF honestly.
I was feeling humiliated and embarrassed that I’d spent a lot of time on this, and knew it was 100% my responsibility that I had done so. In some way, I felt like even though I knew Marley and I had both suffered at the hands of cyberbullies, this experiment trivialized it and I felt more alone.
You know how a stampede starts? Someone yells something into the crowd and panic ensues. It doesn’t even matter if it’s actually true or not. Same with yelling fire in a crowded movie theater.
Sit there all you want and say, “I didn’t mean it!” but the fact is, stirring up this kind of drama could have had unintended consequences for people that – even if done by third party people – would have been stoked by this experiment.
After all was said and done, I went over to YouTube and watched the documentary.
It was VERY well done technically. It was obvious Marley and her team had spent a lot of time on it.
As I watched it, I found myself in agreement with so much of what she was saying and describing. There’s no question cancel culture has gotten totally out of hand and it really does ruin peoples lives.
By the time I got to the end, I felt like the emotional soup I was swimming in had a few more feelings in it.
- I still felt used and embarrassed.
- I was still mad.
- I also understood the concept and principle.
- I felt relieved my intuition was right about Dan.
- I felt impressed by the quality of the documentary.
- It caused me to question “what’s worth it” for the sake of making a point?
Was this what had to be done to make a point? It certainly sparked emotion. But lying so ferociously felt…ick.
One question I just can’t get out of my head…
Could Marley have actually told the truth about something personal and risked getting canceled for real rather than fabricating a story? I know in my life, if I want to be canceled, I can simply pull a few sordid tales out of my skeleton closet and I will have plenty to work with.
I’m sure she has some too. Don’t we all?
My conclusion is that while the idea of the experiment to bring attention to cancel culture can be applauded, the experiment fell short some. Instead of putting something out there that was real and honestly true, she chose to make up a lie and fool thousands of people so she could safely show it was fake later.
That’s not what being canceled feels like.
It feels like there is no escape. You are guilty… forever. There’s no redemption. No nuance. No growth. Certainly no grace and applause and thousands of views.
I’m not going to cancel anyone over this. I’m not going to hate Marley or hate Dan. By Monday, this whole thing will be old news.
I know it was a risk what she and Dan did, and sometimes you have to shoot your shot and try. I get it. I’m willing to see that and acknowledge that her intentions were good on this, but the impact felt different.
It’s always easy for it to seem “so cool” when you’re on the inside knowing what’s going on and using peoples real time reactions for your B-roll. Please understand…as I said in my post on my timeline the other day, I’ve taken people to task in a way that I regret. I’ve made the wrong call…many times. I’m not spotless.
The opposite in fact.
I would love nothing more than to live in a world where you get to learn from your mistakes and grow. I would love to live in a world where I could erase things I wrote and said in anger.
The line between speaking your mind, lively debate, friendly competition, character assassination… is blurry. There’s a difference between intention and impact.
If you’re a writer or a creator, you’re forced to walk this line EVERY single day.
I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. And because the topic is cancel culture, it almost feels like if you have a dissenting opinion and share it, you’re proving the point. Which means, there’s not an easy way to respond without aligning with it, or risk feeling like you’re proving some point about cancel culture.
I’m going to give Marley the benefit of the doubt, and say that my own embarrassment and triggers have probably colored my ability to see this totally clearly, but let this hot take be an addendum to the cancel culture experiment….
The more influence you have, the more careful you have to be. Even when your intentions are good.
– A gullible standby social media commenter who’s a bit salty, but still thinks she makes some good points