When coffee, fridges, bicycles and even birthday parties first came out, many people fought against them.
Many of the cultural and household staples we take for granted today had to be fought for when they first came on the scene. The cancel culture is nothing new, our predecessors were not immune to it.
Read on to see how cancel culture almost cost us beloved must-haves and ponder on what today’s society overreacts to.
1. Birthday parties
Once people got in touch with their birthdays (recognising them and simply knowing them) birthday parties became popular.
The “birthday party habit sows dangerous seeds for the future in child character and habits.” The whole shebang induced “nervous excitement” and promoted rivalry which was “poor preparation for any potentially successful body or mind.” said a Ladies’ Home Journal in 1913.
But marketers saw an opportunity. They developed party-planning books that ‘guided’ parents on party itinerary and completely overshadowed the risk of corruption. Post-war recreational centres further ingrained the tradition.
As you pile your “reads of the year” take a moment to appreciate the struggle for reading a novel.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the novel was the devil incarnate come to wipe noble and manly qualities of the young mind.
Novels were viewed as distractions from serious text such as the Bible.
They were attributed “bewitching powers” of suggestion and associated with crime. Children who chose to read were thought to be unwell.
Fortunately, the comic books became such a big evil that novels were seen as the lesser evil.
Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511 because it was believed to cause revolutionary thinking. In 1600, the clergy termed it “the bitter invention of Satan”.
A century later, in the Ottoman Empire, drinking coffee was a major crime and second-time violators were put inside a bag and thrown into Bosporus.
However, Pope Clement VIII enjoyed the beverage so much that he declared his approval saying “this devil’s drink is so delicious… we should cheat the devil by baptizing it”.
While Federick of Prussia ordered a return to beer breakfast, the Italian coffee culture was born and soon London coffee houses became home for artists and traders. In America, the Boston Tea Party initiated the American coffee solidarity. Thomas Jefferson even called it “the favorite drink of the civilized world”.
When the refrigerator first came out, it was called unhealthy and unnatural. At the time, the ice industry was big business worth $660 million by in 2010 dollars.
In fact, ice was America’s second most valuable export after cotton.assion leak toxic methyl chloride and they were so expensive.
But the tide of the convenient tech simply grew bigger until Feon made them cheap and safe. Within a few years, the ice men were kicked out of big business and food preservation took a new turn.
5. The Bicycle
The ‘velocipede’ as the bicycle was once called, was once a threat of apocalyptic proportions to society.
In 1894, the news reported that the increase in mental decline in Britain was directly linked to bicycle riding. “There is not the slightest doubt that bicycle riding leads to weakness of mind, general lunacy, and homicidal mania.”
The bicycle was also seen as a threat to the feminine frame linking it to a large waist, manly hands and feet and the horrifying “bicycle face”. If that did not convince you to leave the bicycle, it was the threat to morality that did it.
The news declared that female bicyclists were wearing shorter clothing than was appropriate by the law of morality and decency. This was a long time before spandex and other designs for ‘appropriate’ wear and the famous bicycle races.
6. Teddy Bears
The teddy bear was a tribute to American President Theodore Roosevelt. However, despite being a beloved president, the toy was not seen as such. In fact people worried that it would kill motherly instincts and lead to the suicide of an entire race.
Anti-bear movement leader, Rev. Michael Esper, a priest at St.Joseph in Michigan is now known as the man who wanted to kill joy. But back then he believed that he was saving the mother-child relationship.
In 1907, he told his congregation: “it is a monstrous crime to do anything that will tend to destroy [maternal] instincts. That is what the “Teddy Bear’ is doing and that is why it is going to be a factor in the race suicide problem.”
This speech set off a wildfire of ‘Teddy Bear’ hatred and fear. The rationale was that it was prohibiting baby girls from learning to care for dolls and make garments for them which education was important for them. The bear was okay for the boys but not the girls.
Today’s market of the Teddy Bear is worth close to $8 billion.
If the movie “mirrors” invoked the fear of the mirror in you, you might cancel. But in the 1800s, mirrors struck the fear of vanity in the hearts of many.
At this time, mirrors were becoming affordable and common in public spaces which caused alarm that vanity would overtake society.
Many feared that “getting caught up in themselves” would hinder people from connecting with others. The mirror was blamed for pedestrian accidents and elevator operators complained, because people spent their attention and time staring at their reflections and admiring themselves.
These people should see the cell phone…
8. Comic Books
There was once a link between comic books and crime. At least in the minds of the U.S Senate in 1954. They reated the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Deliquency which led the comic books inquisition. The books were banned and burned throughout the country.
However, comic books had simply fallen in the hands of the wrong audience. They were originally made for soldiers and their circulation was tripled during the second World War.
After the war, said soldiers started demanding comic books in the horror, crime and supernatural genres.
Enter children. The comic book immediately became a disgrace that threatened childhood innocence. The inquisition however led to the establishment of the Comics Code Authority that was targeting sanitisation of the content.
People once believed that hell was sweltering pool of agony just below their feet. So when the subway was first introduced, it was assumed that “all hell would break loose”.
Some people thought they were a disturbance to the dead, underground air was dangerous to breathe and one Boston clergy said it was a “project of Lucifer himself”.
That unsettling feeling in your gut when the elevator moves was a source of many health concerns. Physicians warned of “brain fever” and disorder of the nerves.
Fears of broken cables and falling were widespread. With time, the mechanics (doors, hydraulics, speed control) became better and safety measures improved.
Thank the universe, because there is simply no way of climbing thousands of stairs up a sky scrapper.