Cancel cancel culture!

Trying to ‘cancel’ someone can lead to even more problems.


Jenna Beamer (Flickr)

Even well-liked celebrities like Taylor Swift have been victims of cancel culture.

Cancel culture. I think most of us know what it is. I mean, if you take one step on Twitter, you’ll probably find out in an instant: the toxic phenomenon of driving somebody off the face of the Internet or attempting to ruin their career because of something a group of people deem offensive or inappropriate. And sure, sometimes cancel culture can make sense when there’s like an extremely racist celebrity that somehow still has a platform, but most of the time cancel culture is uninformed, ineffective, and can bring great harm to the people that it is targeted against. 

Starting off, cancel culture is usually uninformed, and people act on a whim when going after the celebrity or influencer they are trying to cancel. There can be something a celebrity said from years ago that people will dig up and frame around the celebrity to make it seem as if that still defines who they are today. For example, a couple years ago the Internet tried to cancel Shawn Mendes for racist remarks he allegedly made when he was 15. He is 22 now. Racism is a strong subject, and if people had noticed the tweets back when he was 15, it would make more sense why they would be coming after him. But that was years ago. People grow up and change, especially teenagers. When you’re a teenager you can be ignorant and unaware of what you are doing. So to blame a 22-year-old man for mistakes he made when was a 15-year-old boy isn’t logical, especially when there’s no evidence of him still thinking this way. Cancel culture also can become misguided when people try to attack celebrities for things they obviously don’t understand themselves. Back in September singer Adele posted a picture of herself on Instagram of her wearing Bantu Knots, a common African and African American hairstyle, to Notting Hill Carnival. People were quick to attempt to cancel her, but what they didn’t understand was that Notting Hill Carnival is a carnival about celebrating Caribbean culture. Adele was wearing a Jamaican flag around her shoulders as well. She wasn’t wearing Bantu Knots to mock African culture or steal them. She was wearing them to acknowledge Jamaican culture, which is cultural appreciation, not appropriation. Culture Appropriation is when somebody takes something from another culture and attempts to make it their own without giving credit to the original culture. But Adele was at a carnival dedicated to that culture. People could have easily taken the time to learn about this, but instead, they chose to attack, demonstrating that cancel culture can be baseless and misguided. People rarely think when trying to cancel someone. 

Now sometimes, cancel culture might be justified if the person being attacked actually did something worth being criticized. But usually, even if that person deserves it they don’t get canceled. They just might get shamed for a little and two weeks later everything is back to normal.  No matter how many people might go after a celebrity, or how many it may seem go after them, the celebrity is rarely ever canceled. Even if the celebrity actually deserves it. Take Ellen DeGeneres for example. Last year a lot of people that had worked on her show or were guests came out and claimed that she was rude and mistreated them. They talked about how she wasn’t paying them during the Pandemic or how they weren’t allowed to do certain things around her. And so Twitter decided that she was canceled and refused to support her anymore. But if you take a look you can find out that Ellen still has viewers and that her show is still running, even if it is slowly declining with each season that passes. She’s a millionaire. She’s one of the greatest and most well-known talk show hosts. People are still trying to get on her show, and she still has close celebrity friends that refuse to leave her side. Additionally, she has her second show on the side, Game of Games where she brings up her fans to compete in several different games where they fall through trap doors or get pulled up in the air by ropes. In the light of her recent cancellation, people have also gone after her for humiliating her fans on this show and making fun of them. For a long time it’s been pushed aside as humor, but now you can’t help but wonder, was this Ellen showing a darker part of herself. Nonetheless, no matter what Twitter says she’s still going to power through it because she has money and connections that can outweigh what a mob on Twitter claims. Even if you try your hardest to cancel her, you’re probably only going to leave a dent. And this happens with most celebrities who are canceled. It took a very long time for Jeffree Starr, a beauty Youtuber who has allegedly made inappropriate tweets towards minors, said the n-word, and also allegedly controlled Tati Westbrook to go after James Charles and ruin his career by claiming that he was a sexual predator, to be shunned by a good amount of people. Now he’s probably back on the Internet thriving like none if it ever happened. 

Additionally, cancel culture can also drive people to dark places. After the leak of her phone call back in 2016, where allegedly Taylor had agreed to her name being slandered in Kanye’s song “Famous”, Taylor Swift suffered from brutal consequences of cancel culture. She was chased off the internet and into hiding for nearly a year because of an edited phone call that was later fully leaked, proving that she was never wrong in the first place. In her documentary, Miss Americana, she pointed out that people always criticizing her and talking about how they thought about her drove her to an eating disorder. She was driven to harm just because some people didn’t like her. That’s insane. Youtuber James Charles also was shoved close to the edge in his journey with cancel culture. After being accused of being an alleged sexual predator, with weak evidence that he easily debunked, he talked about how he was in a “really dark place” and in the description of his Youtube video wrote down the National Suicide Hotline number. I don’t think we need to think all that much about what that could mean. But, James Charles is now facing more claims about him being an alleged sexual predator, so I suppose we’ll see whether he deserves the iron first of cancel culture or not. But as described, these cases didn’t have solid evidence to back up their claims: they were made on very weak ground and easily destroyed, so why do people feel the need to drive somebody to their breaking point when they don’t even know them? Do they think they deserve it? Do they think they’re doing the right thing? Or do they realize that their actions can be harmful?

However, sometimes cancel culture isn’t always wrong. For example, cancel culture can teach important lessons to influencers and celebrities about how they just aren’t free to walk away from their mistakes and that they will be held accountable, even if the consequences are a little extreme. Additionally, it came out that 6 Dr. Seuss books are no longer going to be published because they contain racist imagery and depictions of people of color. For example, depicting black people as wearing leaves and as animals in a zoo, and also Asian people having slits for eyes. This is obviously racist and something that kids shouldn’t be learning, however, I believe that a better alternative than stopping publishing altogether is putting a disclaimer in the front of the books so the parents know what the book contains. We realize now that this behavior is wrong, but these are products of their time, and if we teach our children what racism is and how it is an outdated belief, then they can grow up more educated and aware of the matter. 

Overall, cancel culture is a toxic trend that I keep wishing will be forgotten with every new year, but it never seems to go away. It’s uneducated, weak and can harm people more than you should want somebody to be harmed. But as time goes on people seem to become more involved in it and somebody new is canceled every other week. I mean, what do you think of cancel culture?