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The social shadow in cancel culture: An Analysis from BBB 2021

Abstract

The contemporary world hosts a complex network of social interactions that transcend physical boundaries and materialize in digital environments. In the context of the transformation and challenge of traditional identities, previously latent and socially unacceptable behaviors emerge. Using the Jungian concept of the “Shadow”, we investigate the phenomenon of cancel culture. In analytical psychology, the Shadow represents the part of the psyche that contains rejected, inadequate, or unwanted aspects of one’s personality. This study explored the relationship between the Shadow and cancel culture by examining tweets related to controversies in BBB 2021. The method employed involved collecting tweets over 6 weeks, followed by content analysis for data treatment. Simultaneously, a systematic analysis of the scenes that occurred was conducted, and data were subsequently cross-referenced. The results point to a high incidence of negative emotions, indicating a potential association with Shadow components. These were more elicited in the face of hostility and socially devalued behaviors, the so-called “dramas”. Cancellation occurred in parallel, indicating the association between the phenomena. This investigation highlights the importance of deepening the understanding of the dynamics of social media and its psychological aspects.

Keywords:
Social shadow; Cancel culture; Documentary analysis; Reality show; Twitter

Resumo

O mundo contemporâneo abriga uma complexa rede de interações sociais, que ultrapassam fronteiras físicas e se materializam nos ambientes digitais. No contexto da transformação e desafio das identidades tradicionais, surgem comportamentos anteriormente latentes e socialmente inaceitáveis. Utilizando o conceito junguiano da “Sombra”, investigamos o fenômeno da cultura do cancelamento. Na psicologia analítica, a Sombra representa a parte da psique que contém aspectos da personalidade rejeitados, inadequados ou indesejados. Este estudo explorou a relação entre a Sombra e a cultura do cancelamento, examinando tweets relacionados às polêmicas do BBB 2021. O método empregado envolveu a coleta de tweets ao longo de um período de 6 semanas, seguida de análise de conteúdo para o tratamento dos dados. Paralelamente, conduziu-se uma análise sistemática das cenas ocorridas e, posteriormente, realizou-se o cruzamento de dados. Os resultados apontam para uma alta incidência de emoções negativas, indicando potencial associação com componentes da sombra. Essas foram mais eliciadas diante de eventos de hostilidade e condutas socialmente depreciadas, os “barracos”. O cancelamento ocorreu paralelamente, indicando a associação entre os fenômenos. Esta investigação destaca a importância de aprofundar a compreensão da dinâmica das redes sociais e seus aspectos psicológicos.

Palavras-chave:
Sombra social; Cultura do cancelamento; Análise documental; Reality show; Twitter

Resumen

El mundo contemporáneo alberga una compleja red de interacciones sociales que trascienden las fronteras físicas y se materializan en entornos digitales. En el contexto de la transformación y el desafío de las identidades tradicionales, surgen comportamientos previamente latentes y socialmente inaceptables. Utilizando el concepto junguiano de la “Sombra”, investigamos el fenómeno de la cultura del cancelamiento. En psicología analítica, la Sombra representa la parte de la psique que contiene aspectos de la personalidad rechazados, inadecuados o no deseados. Este estudio exploró la relación entre la Sombra y la cultura del cancelamiento examinando tweets relacionados con las controversias del BBB 2021. El método empleado implicó la recopilación de tweets a lo largo de un período de 6 semanas, seguido de un análisis de contenido para el tratamiento de datos. Simultáneamente, se llevó a cabo un análisis sistemático de las escenas que ocurrieron y, posteriormente, se cruzaron los datos. Los resultados señalan una alta incidencia de emociones negativas, lo que indica una posible asociación con componentes de la Sombra. Estas emociones se desencadenaron más en eventos de hostilidad y comportamientos socialmente devaluados, los llamados “barracos”. La cultura del cancelamiento ocurrió en paralelo, lo que indica la asociación entre los fenómenos. Esta investigación destaca la importancia de profundizar en la comprensión de la dinámica de las redes sociales y sus aspectos psicológicos.

Palabras clave:
Sombras sociales; Cultura del cancelamiento; Análisis documental; Reality show; Twitter

Introduction

The contemporary world hosts a multiplicity of social interactions that extend beyond physical boundaries, finding their expression in digital environments, such as social media. This era, characterized by profound changes in social structure and individual identities, is marked by an identity crisis that, according to Hall (2001)HALL, S. A Identidade Cultural na Pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 2001., affects individuals in late modernity. This crisis displaces traditional structures and processes, resulting in the fragmentation of the modern subject, who now faces a polysemic identity where belonging encompasses variables such as nationality, sexuality, class, ethnicity, culture, gender, and religion (HALL, 2001HALL, S. A Identidade Cultural na Pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 2001.; MORAES, 2019MORAES, M. L. B. Stuart Hall: cultura, identidade e representação. Revista Educar Mais, v. 3, n. 2, p. 167-172, 2019. Disponível em: https://periodicos.ifsul.edu.br/index.php/educarmais/article/view/1482. Acesso em: 6 jun. 2022.
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).

In this context of displacement and challenge to traditional identities, behaviors that were hitherto latent and not socially tolerated are emerging. Issues such as racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance gain visibility, provoking debates and expressions on social media against such attitudes. What is observed is that these expressions, opposing socially unacceptable behaviors, can result in a kind of virtual “cancel culture” against individuals responsible for these acts.

From this dynamic, questions about identity, social acceptance, and collective reactions to reprehensible actions emerge. However, it is worth noting that behind these expressions lie psychological and cultural complexities that deserve a deeper exploration.

In this context, we can turn to the concepts of “Shadow” and “Social Shadow” proposed by Carl Jung to better understand this phenomenon. Social Shadow can be understood as what culture and society reject or do not accept, representing the dark side of the collective ideal. Just as the personal Shadow contains repressed and unrecognized aspects of the individual personality, the Social Shadow contains elements rejected by culture (JUNG, 1976JUNG, C. G. Os arquétipos e o inconsciente coletivo. 6. ed. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 1976.; 1979; 2000).

Considering this conjuncture, the present research aimed to analyze the relationship between projections of the Social Shadow and the reactions of cancel culture, seeking to understand how cancel culture can be a reflection of the Social Shadow and how Persona defense mechanisms play a role in social dynamics.

Therefore, this work aims to shed light on this complex relationship between identity, cancel culture, Shadow, and social acceptance. To achieve this goal, manifestations of the Social Shadow in the context of the reality show Big Brother Brasil 2021 (BBB 21) were examined, along with the interpretive logic of virtual cancel culture. Additionally, sentiment analysis metrics from the Twitter public regarding events that occurred on the show during the period from 02/01/2021 to 02/20/2021 were considered.

Thus, this research seeks to contribute to the understanding of the psycho-cultural dynamics underlying cancel culture and the projection of the Social Shadow, providing valuable insights into the impact of these phenomena on contemporary society.

Theoretical Framework

Cancel Culture

Cancel culture is a phenomenon characterized by mass behavior on social media. It is like a wave that leads people to apply social sanctions in response to emblematic cases that displease them. In this process, they unite to defend a common ideal, seeking justice through a punishment that is within their power (HONDA and SILVA, 2020HONDA, E. M. V., SILVA, T. B. O “Tribunal da Internet” e os efeitos da cultura do cancelamento. Migalhas de Peso, 30 jul. 2020. Disponível em: https://www.migalhas.com.br/depeso/331363/o-tribunal-da-internet-e-os-efeitos-da-cultura-docancelamento. Acesso em: 20 out. 2021.
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) rather than relying on the punitive power of the state (FOUCAULT, 2010FOUCAULT, M. Vigiar e Punir. História da Violência nas Prisões. 38. ed. Rio de Janeiro Editora Vozes, 2010.). Cancel culture gained prominence in 2019 and was chosen as the term of the year by the Macquarie Dictionary, a well-known Australian dictionary that annually analyzes trending expressions related to human behavior with the help of linguists and experts.

Initially focused on exposing the culture of sexual harassment in Hollywood, denouncing major figures in the film industry for abuse and sexual violence, the movement went viral and spread worldwide. Thus, it is evident that initially, cancel culture had a strong connection to social issues aimed at combating oppressive power structures, such as sexism, racism, and discrimination, by denouncing issues that might not be heard or acts that would not be properly investigated or punished.

The “canceled” individuals or entities are often public figures, brands, or companies widely admired on social media. However, they often lose this esteem by committing acts that do not align with the moral standards of internet users. Nowadays, the “canceled” is not limited to public figures and can be anyone. The social response to cancel culture on social media is swift and highly mobilized, and one of its characteristics is the existence of boycotts, often resulting in the loss of followers, customers, partnerships, sponsorships, contracts, social exclusion, and, in many cases, even crimes against honor (slander, defamation, and libel), threats, and aggression. It also has the potential to trigger psychological and emotional problems for the “canceled” individuals.

This vigilantism accepts the violation of rights to enforce its own desires and opinions, more akin to seeking revenge and condemnation, a pattern of behavior that can also be identified in the judges (those who “cancel”). While some argue that cancel culture can be considered an exercise of freedom of expression and freedom of thought, when one group (those who cancel) considers themselves morally superior to another (the canceled), this attitude can lead to illicit acts. It imposes social sanctions and public humiliation on the canceled, even preventing any criticism from others, raising the question of usurping the punitive power of the state.

Persona defense mechanism

Another concept that opposes the Shadow and is related to cancel culture is the Persona. Originally developed by Jung (2000)JUNG, C. G. Comentários selecionados de Jung. In: HARK, Helmut. Léxico dos conceitos junguianos fundamentais. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000. during his clinical practice, the Persona can be defined as a person’s social image (public image) because it represents how we present ourselves to the world and how others see us. Thus, the Persona is everything that the individual thinks they are, and this thinking depends on their affective and cognitive experiences within the social environment. According to Jung (2000JUNG, C. G. Comentários selecionados de Jung. In: HARK, Helmut. Léxico dos conceitos junguianos fundamentais. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000., p. 95), “It can be said that the Persona is not what someone actually is, but what he and others believe he is”1 1 A free translation of “pode-se afirmar que a Persona não seja aquilo que alguém de fato não é, mas aquilo que ele e os outros acreditam que ele seja”. . The Persona serves as a social-individual interface and stores a repertoire of behaviors that the individual can use to interact with the world in a way approved by social norms.

In this sense, although the Persona is an observable aspect of personality, its action is unconscious and automatic. Identifying with the cancel culture Persona makes it challenging to recognize one’s own imperfections and flaws. Thus, despite working in opposite ways, the Persona and the Shadow do not represent good and evil but rather aspects of personality that are accepted and rejected, expressed and concealed.

One of the central problems regarding the existence of the Persona is identifying with it (LAFFITTE, 2002LAFFITTE, E. S. A Persona e a Sombra da Organização: uma análise da defensividades organizacionais. Dissertação (Mestrado em Administração), Setor de Ciências Sociais Aplicadas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, 2002.). This situation occurs when the individual truly believes that they are what they appear to be in the eyes of the world. This is because “while, on the one hand, social roles or status may offer recognition and security, on the other hand, the human and personal element can be suffocated behind this soul mask”2 2 A free translation of “enquanto, por um lado, o papel social ou status podem oferecer reconhecimento e segurança, por outro, o elemento humano e pessoal pode ser sufocado por trás dessa máscara anímica”. (HARK, 2000, p. 93). This implies considering the conventionality of collective attitudes and social and cultural stereotypes.

Therefore, when discussing the Persona in cancel culture, it considers the image projected to the public aimed at avoiding conflicts, and in doing so, it maximizes the manic process of seeking homeostasis. In this sense, awareness of what one truly is and what one appears to be implies the reconfiguration of the Persona, which contributes to a process of change aimed at integrating denied aspects, whether at an individual or collective level.

Shadow archetype

According to Carl Jung’s analytical psychology, the Shadow archetype represents the “dark side” of one’s personality: a fierce underworld where the most primitive aspects of oneself are stored. It includes selfishness, repressed instincts, and the socially “unapproved” self, which is rejected by the conscious mind. Jung believed that this archetype was inherited from previous life forms throughout human evolution, which he referred to as the collective unconscious. The collective unconscious is thought to be a reservoir of latent or primordial images that each individual inherits from their ancestors.

It is important to clarify that the Shadow, which is the repository of what the conscious mind deems unacceptable, is not the totality of the unconscious but “represents qualities and attributes unknown or little known to the ego”3 3 A free translation of “representa qualidades e atributos desconhecidos ou pouco conhecidos do ego”. (JUNG, 1978JUNG, C. G. O Homem e seus símbolos. 3. ed. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira, 1978., p. 168), and despite its negativity, both on a personal and collective level, it is “inevitable, and without it, a person remains incomplete”4 4 A free translation of “é inevitável e sem ela o homem fica incompleto”. (FORDHAM, 1990, p. 47). As a dimension of being, the Shadow belongs to the realm of the personal unconscious, stemming from an individual’s life experiences, but it is also considered a component of the collective unconscious, as it is a phenomenon common to all of humanity, which is why it qualifies as an archetype.

Encounters with the Shadow often occur through projection5 5 According to Jung, the term “projection” refers to “an unconscious, automatic process through which an unconscious content of the subject is transferred to an object, making it seem as if this content belongs to the object.” (JUNG, 1976, p.72). . In this sense, the Shadow, being a repressed archetype within the unconscious, can lead to us projecting onto others what we are trying to hide. This means that what irritates us in someone else also resides within us. When denied, this Shadow can manifest in the form of harmful behaviors, conflicts, verbal aggression, and even physical violence.

As mentioned, the Shadow archetype is not only individual but can also be found in “groups of people”, as in the case investigated in this research, the group of people who practice canceling culture. These organizations may, at a given moment, bring their Shadow to light to justify violent actions against humanity itself.

Jung (2000)JUNG, C. G. Comentários selecionados de Jung. In: HARK, Helmut. Léxico dos conceitos junguianos fundamentais. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000. differentiated the Shadow archetype into two types. The first is the personal Shadow, which we all carry, consisting of our small frustrations, fears, selfishness, and more common negative dynamics. However, there is also the impersonal Shadow, which contains the essence of more archetypal evil, the kind associated with genocides.

A person possessed by their Shadow is trapped in their own light, falling into their own traps. Whenever possible, they prefer to create an unfavorable impression on others. Generally, they are not fortunate because they live beneath themselves and, at most, achieve what is not in their best interest. Where there is no threshold for them to stumble over, they construct one, imagining that they have done something useful6 6 A free translation of “Um ser humano possuído por sua Sombra está postado em sua própria luz, caindo em suas próprias armadilhas. Sempre que possível, ele prefere exercer uma impressão desfavorável sobre os outros. Em geral, não tem sorte, porque vive embaixo de si mesmo, e no máximo alcança o que não lhe convém. Onde não há soleira na qual possa tropeçar, ele a constrói, imaginando ter feito algo útil”. (JUNG, 2000JUNG, C. G. Comentários selecionados de Jung. In: HARK, Helmut. Léxico dos conceitos junguianos fundamentais. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000., p. 128-129).

In this sentence, Jung (2000)JUNG, C. G. Comentários selecionados de Jung. In: HARK, Helmut. Léxico dos conceitos junguianos fundamentais. São Paulo: Loyola, 2000. reveals that the Shadow, even when unconscious, compels the human being to act under its influence while denying its existence. In the context of cancel culture, the cancelers’ illusion leads them to employ various defense mechanisms to explain rationalizations, denials, projections, and reactions that drive their choices and social interactions, which are not always the most appropriate. From this perspective, projection means unconsciously attributing to others characteristics that are one’s own, often not fully understood as such.

Sentiment analysis in social media

Social interaction is a constant presence in people’s lives, as it involves the process of social relations developed with those around us. From a sociological perspective, this is even considered a necessary condition for the formation of society, as it is through this medium that people become social beings. Social contact and the creation of networks of relationships are responsible for the development of communication and the generation of specific behaviors.

In this sense, social media platforms have sparked a digital revolution, enabling the expression and dissemination of diverse emotions and opinions. They serve as places where people engage in debates on various topics, products, and individuals. Digital technologies enable collaboration and collective participation, leading to collective intelligence that arises from the contributions of many individuals. The connections that often form among active users create an effective space for discussion with a significant capacity for motivation and engagement, connecting individuals with common goals and facilitating various forms of collective action (JENKINS, 2009JENKINS, H. A Cultura da Convergência. São Paulo: Aleph, 2009.).

With the rise of globally used social media platforms like Twitter7 7 Social network founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. In 2023, it was renamed to ‘X’. ,8 8 Twitter has Trending Topics, which are the most talked-about subjects at the moment on the social network, conveying what is happening in the world or in a specific region. , sentiment analysis has gained significant social value, serving as a tool for measuring public opinion through data mining from social media (BENEVENUTO, RIBEIRO, ARAÚJO, 2015BENEVENUTO, F.; RIBEIRO, F.; ARAÚJO, M. Métodos para análise de sentimentos em mídias sociais. Brazilian Symposium on Multimedia and the Web (Webmedia), Manaus, Brasil, 2015.). Also known as opinion mining and sentiment analysis, sentiment analysis is a form of natural language processing aimed at extracting, classifying, and analyzing subjective information from large volumes of textual data from social media, such as opinions and sentiments.

The primary goal of sentiment analysis is the automatic classification of textual data sets, not by topics, but by polarized sentiments or opinions, which can be positive, negative, or neutral, about predefined topics, with the aid of information technology.

According to Yu, Duan, and Cao (2013), there are three main reasons to choose sentiment analysis as a research approach: 1) it converts large volumes of unstructured data into information that allows predictions about specific issues; 2) it constructs models to aggregate collective opinions and reveals valuable information about population behavior for future trend prediction; 3) it allows gathering information about people’s opinions on various topics.

As a result, the increasing use of social media by citizens to express their opinions has made them one of the primary sources of data for sentiment analysis. This development represents significant progress for opinion tracking techniques in social media content, especially for those that adopt Twitter as a data source.

Methodology

This is documentary research, as it is a type of research that employs primary sources (TUMELERO, 2019TUMELERO, N. Pesquisa documental: conceito, exemplos e passo a passo. Blog Mettzer, 01 out. 2019. Disponível em: https://blog.mettzer.com/pesquisa-documental/. Acesso em: 21 set. 2021.
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). Regarding the research type, it is exploratory in nature, aimed at providing greater familiarity with the discussion about cancel culture (VERGARA, 2005VERGARA, S. C. Metodologia cientifica: métodos de pesquisa. Rio de Janeiro: PUC-RIO, 2005. Disponível em: http://www.maxwell.vrac.puc-rio.br/9858/9858_4.PDF. Acesso em: 21 set. 2021.
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). A qualitative approach was considered the most appropriate for the type of analysis conducted.

The reality show chosen was Big Brother Brazil from the 2021 season (BBB 21) since it garnered significant social attention due to the issues discussed both within and outside the reality show. The research analyzed the self-perception of the participants, judgments against their opponents, and how Twitter users judged the BBB 21 participants based on their behaviors regarding controversial subjects. Inclusion criteria considered discussions portrayed in the reality show related to racism, LGBTQ+ discrimination, psychological violence, and social exclusion. Exclusion criteria involved debates related to prize competitions, dynamics, and conflicts related to eviction processes.

Data collection

The tweets were collected and underwent a manual annotation process of emotions, where each tweet is linked to an emotion in the study. To obtain data through this method, the advanced search bar was used with filters provided by the system, such as keywords, hashtags, language, users, user mentions, and date range. The parameters for keywords and hashtags included terms like “#karolconka”, “bbb21”, “#forakarolconka”, and “#karolconkaexpulsa”, which were the terms most associated with the results we intended to gather. Data was collected weekly, totaling 6 weeks defined from the initial data search.

For this study, data collection was carried out through a systematic analysis of the scenes that occurred in BBB 21. The scenes were observed during the live broadcast of the program, allowing for real-time analysis of the participants’ interactions. The research used data collection instruments that were part of a strategy to understand the interpretative logic of cancel culture as the object of investigation. Primary data were processed through descriptive analysis and content analysis. Content analysis helped to comprehend how social interactions are being developed in the digital environment and other behavioral aspects related to the analytical categories of Shadow, Persona, and their defenses. Secondary data were processed based on sentiment analysis, corroborating the public’s reactions from their opinions about a given context within a specific period.

Results

It is evident that BBB 21 was one of the editions that most divided public opinions on social media, as it was broadcast during a period when cancel culture was prominent in Brazil. According to research data from Buzzmonitor9 9 E.life’s proprietary software is the only Social Business Intelligence platform that caters to all the needs of the Social Media universe. It allows real-time monitoring of what is being said about the brand and competitors in digital spaces, enables engagement and responses to consumers, and assesses the performance of the channels where companies are present. , mentions of BBB 21 on Twitter increased tenfold when compared to the 2020 edition. Between January and February of this year, 2.8 million people mentioned BBB on the platform, with 41.4 million posts about the program.

The edition sparked debates on social media regarding racism, transphobia, homophobia, harassment, and mental health. According to a study conducted by Hibou10 10 A Market and Consumer Monitoring Company that aims to deliver the consumer’s perspective on the world of brands, products, and services. , a consumer monitoring company, they mapped out the emotions people felt while watching BBB 21. Of the 52% of viewers, 86% had experienced strong negative emotions within the first two weeks of the program. Anger, sadness, prejudice, humiliation, outrage, disgust, repulsion, and lack of empathy were the most common emotions felt by Brazilians.

Cancel culture and its social effects

The participants, Lucas Penteado and Karol Conká, were the ones who most divided public opinion in the early weeks of the reality show. Through a heated argument between Lucas and several other participants during the second part of the program on the afternoon of February 1, 2021, Karol asked Lucas to leave the dining table and not return until she had finished her meal. The singer insulted the actor and expressed her desire to throw a glass of water in his face. In the evening, during the ‘discord game’ in which participants had to label each other as “canceled” or “canceler”, both accused each other of being cancelers. During the program’s break, Karol accused Lucas of being an abuser. The singer’s behavior led to criticism on social media. During the period from February 1 to February 5, 2021, the main hashtags on Twitter related to the program were “#KarolConkaExpulsa” and “#ForaKarolConka”.

Based on the data extracted from public opinion on Twitter, the primary feelings of the public regarding this incident were outrage, disgust, anger, and anxiety. Using advanced search on the platform during the period from February 1 to February 5, 2021, with the keyword “Karol” and the hashtags “#bbb21” or “#BBB21”, out of the 71 tweets available on the main timeline, 5 tweets expressed neutral opinions about the case, 2 tweets had favorable opinions about the participant, and 64 tweets had opinions against the participant’s behavior. Through her conduct on the reality show, Karol Conká11 11 According to data provided on the Globoplay website, the participant achieved a record rejection and was eliminated with 99.17% of the public vote, totaling 285.2 million votes. faced massive criticism for her comments and actions toward other housemates.

In light of the above, it is evident that cancelation occurred within the reality show, practiced by the participants themselves, as well as in the digital space through hate speech and virtual lynching. During the content analysis and sentiment analysis on Twitter, psychological consequences of cancel culture were observed, both for the canceler and the canceled. The canceling public initially experienced disappointment because the person’s actions did not align with their expectations. Following this, feelings of anger towards the situation emerged, along with a desire for punishment for the wrongdoing, leading to a sense of satisfaction derived from the act of canceling, giving the canceler a sense of power. On the other hand, the canceled public experienced feelings of anguish, exclusion, and a sense of not belonging. There was also a risk of a personality change that could make them antisocial. In the social context, ordinary people are more susceptible to the psychological impacts of cancel culture compared to public figures, as they often lack psychological support networks and may internalize the blame, neglecting their complexity and reducing themselves to their mistakes.

Thus, it is apparent that cancel culture reflects the current societal moment, as the movement represents an attempt to obliterate one’s own Shadow. When individuals who watch the actions of others unconsciously recognize their own tendencies, they are engaging in what Jung referred to as “projection”. These projections of the Shadow cloud one’s perception of others and, by destroying their objectivity, also destroy any possibility of authentic human relationships.

Reality Shows and the Projection of the Shadow

On February 20, 2021, the participants Camilla de Lucas and Karol Conká engaged in a heated argument. It began when the singer, after arguing with another participant, irritated Camilla by insinuating that Camilla was not on her side in the conflict with the other participant. Camilla responded, asserting that she was not on anyone’s side and that Karol was using her name to make other participants believe she was against them. She confirmed that Karol was sowing discord and not standing by what she said. Subsequently, Karol shifted the argument to a different topic, claiming that the influencer wanted a rivalry between two Black women and that Camilla was creating unnecessary female competition. Earlier, she had accused the digital influencer of not aligning herself with other Black men and women in the BBB 21 house. Camilla did not back down and told Karol not to raise affinity as an issue for militancy because she was not obliged to get along with Karol just because they were both Black women. During the debate, Camilla, who denied being known as a “troublemaker” before entering the game, said that Karol enjoyed pitting one person against another. She concluded the discussion by saying, “I am Camilla, not an idiot. You may be the tough Karol outside, but there is another tough one inside, too. Nice to meet you, Camilla”. After their argument, Camilla reported that she did not usually behave the way she did during the argument outside the reality show, that she felt out of character, and lost her temper. On the internet, viewers of the reality show went wild over Camilla’s actions and started the trending hashtag “O Gigante Acordou”12 12 Expression that gained prominence in large mobilizations within Brazilian society, around 2013, becoming widely recognized as a kind of rallying cry for mobilization and protest. (The Giant Has Awakened).

When we relate the argument between Camilla de Lucas and Karol Conká, it is evident that the act of shadow projection occurred within the reality show, experienced by the digital influencer Camilla. She contradicts herself by claiming not to be a “troublemaker” while simultaneously engaging in a heated argument where she loses her temper and displays such characteristics. It is also apparent that the experience of the shadow archetype occurred when Camilla said she felt “out of character”, meaning she projected her shadow onto the “other” (in this case, the singer) by attributing to Karol a quality that exists in her own personality but is hidden from her conscious awareness.

The effects of shadow projection occur when an individual is affected or disturbed by others, whether close or distant, such as a public figure. They may criticize them for their thoughts or words. In this moment, these individuals become a mirror of the subject, and the subject projects their shadow onto them. Therefore, the function of the shadow in this reality show incident represented the contrary aspect of the ego and precisely embodied the character traits that the participant Camilla detested the most in others.

Cancellation culture and social shadow

On February 7, 2021, a participant of BBB 21, Lucas Penteado, decided to quit the show after one of the parties. On that occasion, Lucas kissed Gilberto, another participant in the program, surprising everyone both inside and outside the house. After the kiss, the actor had a falling out with his fellow housemates, as many claimed that the kiss was a gameplay strategy and even doubted Lucas’s sexuality. Lucas explained to his housemates that he is a bisexual man attracted to both men and women. Gilberto, even while under the influence of alcohol, confirmed that he initiated the kiss and did not feel used. After significant pressure on Lucas, the turmoil ended with him requesting to leave BBB, prioritizing his mental health, and stating that he would wait for Gilberto when he left the show.

“I won’t be accepted here, I won’t be accepted in the community, my family or my friends won’t accept me!” says Lucas, deeply affected following the attacks he endured in the house due to his sexuality. Despite there being many bisexual individuals in the social circle, many of them remain silent to avoid doubts, mockery, and cancellation because they know how society reacts when they reveal their true selves. This is reinforced by data from the Brazilian Public Security Yearbook for 2022, which reveals an 88.4% increase in reports of sexual violence against LGBTQIA+ people between 2020 and 2021. Physical violence also grew by 35%, from 1,271 to 1,719 cases, and reports of LGBTQIA+ people being murdered increased by 7%. It is essential to consider intersectionality (AKOTIRENE, 2019AKOTIRENE, C. Interseccionalidade. São Paulo: Sueli Carneiro; Pólen, 2019.) to understand the treatment Lucas received, especially because he is a Black and peripheral man. The existence of a stereotype13 13 Lima e Pereira (2004) report that stereotypes constitute the cognitive basis of prejudice. They are shared beliefs about attributes or customary behaviors of certain individuals or groups that fuel prejudiced attitudes and feelings, which, in turn, justify the discriminatory practices and behaviors effectively exhibited against them. of violent masculinity, associated with LGBTQ+ phobia, deeply rooted in Brazilian society, helps us understand the behavior exhibited by the program’s participants, even those who are not heterosexual and who judged the kissing incident, projecting the social shadow onto it.

Many expectations are created within society regarding what a Black man should be like, his sexuality, and how he should behave in certain situations. Since Lucas kissed another man, which does not align with societal expectations for a Black man, he faced intense questioning and judgment.

This episode illustrates the social shadow, and cancel culture serves as an example of the amplification of the expression of the shadow, essentially through cruel and condemnatory actions. When certain groups choose to live according to practices rejected by society, they become the targets of projections. In this way, the social shadow takes on recognizable forms, such as homophobia and biphobia, for example. In this sense, the social shadow manifests when people identify with a particular ideology that reflects society’s fears. When a certain group carries the “hook” for projection, meaning the rejected characteristics of the collective, the possibility of expressing their dark instincts becomes apparent.

Final considerations

This study has contributed to rethinking the ways in which human relationships and communications are developing. However, the study had certain limitations that could not be fully measured, such as collecting data and information from internet users more directly to understand the manifestation of their archetypal shadows qualitatively. Similarly, it was not possible to evaluate all the tweets related to the filters used during data collection, as it was done manually and faced some limitations on the social media platform.

In this sense, this research aimed to analyze cancel culture, considering the projection of the shadow and its reverberation in social interactions. According to the results obtained, it becomes evident that there are factors that are masked beneath an ideological and sometimes irrational discourse of cancel culture. Thus, fears and insecurities that individuals are not prepared to handle are projected, as the Other, seen as a non-self, can be considered a threat due to the strong internal contradictions within this Self.

It is clear that social media has become a pathway for new forms of communication. Cancel culture is currently considered a condemnatory social behavior. The new forms of condemnation in the shape of virtual lynching could lead to some social changes in the appreciation of collective morality, as this movement judges all human actions in a much more personal and relative manner. In this context, the social consequences arising from cancel culture are concerning.

In summary, this study highlights the importance of exploring the dynamics of social media and its psychological aspects. It demonstrates how digital interactions can reflect deeper psychological issues and underscores the need for a critical analysis of cancelation practices, which, even when well-intentioned, can have significant social consequences.

  • 1
    A free translation of “pode-se afirmar que a Persona não seja aquilo que alguém de fato não é, mas aquilo que ele e os outros acreditam que ele seja”.
  • 2
    A free translation of “enquanto, por um lado, o papel social ou status podem oferecer reconhecimento e segurança, por outro, o elemento humano e pessoal pode ser sufocado por trás dessa máscara anímica”.
  • 3
    A free translation of “representa qualidades e atributos desconhecidos ou pouco conhecidos do ego”.
  • 4
    A free translation of “é inevitável e sem ela o homem fica incompleto”.
  • 5
    According to Jung, the term “projection” refers to “an unconscious, automatic process through which an unconscious content of the subject is transferred to an object, making it seem as if this content belongs to the object.” (JUNG, 1976JUNG, C. G. Os arquétipos e o inconsciente coletivo. 6. ed. Petrópolis: Editora Vozes, 1976., p.72).
  • 6
    A free translation of “Um ser humano possuído por sua Sombra está postado em sua própria luz, caindo em suas próprias armadilhas. Sempre que possível, ele prefere exercer uma impressão desfavorável sobre os outros. Em geral, não tem sorte, porque vive embaixo de si mesmo, e no máximo alcança o que não lhe convém. Onde não há soleira na qual possa tropeçar, ele a constrói, imaginando ter feito algo útil”.
  • 7
    Social network founded in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. In 2023, it was renamed to ‘X’.
  • 8
    Twitter has Trending Topics, which are the most talked-about subjects at the moment on the social network, conveying what is happening in the world or in a specific region.
  • 9
    E.life’s proprietary software is the only Social Business Intelligence platform that caters to all the needs of the Social Media universe. It allows real-time monitoring of what is being said about the brand and competitors in digital spaces, enables engagement and responses to consumers, and assesses the performance of the channels where companies are present.
  • 10
    A Market and Consumer Monitoring Company that aims to deliver the consumer’s perspective on the world of brands, products, and services.
  • 11
    According to data provided on the Globoplay website, the participant achieved a record rejection and was eliminated with 99.17% of the public vote, totaling 285.2 million votes.
  • 12
    Expression that gained prominence in large mobilizations within Brazilian society, around 2013, becoming widely recognized as a kind of rallying cry for mobilization and protest.
  • 13
    Lima e Pereira (2004)LIMA, M. E. O.; PEREIRA, M. E. Estereótipos, preconceitos e discriminação: perspectivas teóricas e metodológicas. Salvador: EDUFBA, 2004. report that stereotypes constitute the cognitive basis of prejudice. They are shared beliefs about attributes or customary behaviors of certain individuals or groups that fuel prejudiced attitudes and feelings, which, in turn, justify the discriminatory practices and behaviors effectively exhibited against them.

Data availability

The authors declare that the data supporting the research is sensitive and cannot be shared publicly.

  • Editor: Maria Ataide Malcher
  • Editorial assistant: Aluzimara Nogueira Diniz, Julia Quemel Matta, Suelen Miyuki A. Guedes and Weverton Raiol

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    11 Dec 2023
  • Date of issue
    2023

History

  • Received
    26 Feb 2023
  • Accepted
    29 Oct 2023
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