CANCELLED CULTURE: MY THOUGHTS
If you’re a frequenter of Twitter and keep up to date with what Influencers are up to, you’ve probably come across the word ‘cancelled’ before, and not just in regards to Southern Rail services. ‘Cancelled culture’ has become somewhat of a debated topic recently, so I thought I’d chime in with my thoughts.
WHAT IS CANCELLED CULTURE?
If you’re not aware of what being cancelled means, here’s a quick definition: to say someone is cancelled implies that they’ve been problematic in some way and the general public are/should be no longer supporting that person anymore in any way.
The origin of the word is, as many current internet phrases are, taken from black culture on twitter. The earliest use of cancelled to mean what it means now seems to be around 2016.
Cancelled culture refers to the abundant amount of celebrities, politicians, brands and influencers who have been cancelled and the way online communities boycott these people or companies en masse.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS BEING CANCELLED?
Mostly, it stays on the internet and the person or brand who was cancelled is largely unaffected, besides the negative comments on social media. Depending on the reason they were cancelled, there can be lasting real-life implications as well. For example, Roseanne Barr had her television show literally cancelled (taken off the air) after she likened a black woman in Obama’s administration to Planet of the Apes in a tweet. As you can imagine, the affects of being cancelled largely depends on what that person is being cancelled for.
Politicians rarely get cancelled by a large amount of people because of the political divide – if a politician tweets something controversial, there will be people who agree with them, regardless of how racist, sexist or xenophobic that opinion is, just because of how they align politically. Whereas someone like Logan Paul, who filmed someone who had taken their own life, had people cancelling him from all over the globe.
But how effective is it? Well, Logan Paul seems to be doing just fine on YouTube still, after taking a bit of a hit. It probably helps that his core audience is – and was – children, some of whom wouldn’t understand the magnitude of Logan’s actions. Other cancelled celebrities like Kanye West, Donald Trump and Cardi B are living it up as famous rap stars or the president of the United States.
WHY ARE PEOPLE CANCELLED?
There can be many reasons why the internet might collectively decide that someone is cancelled. Obvious reasons include sexism, homophobia, far-right political views, transphobia, racism and xenophobia. Kanye West was cancelled for siding with Donald Trump and stating that slavery was a choice. Cardi B was cancelled because she defended her husband’s homophobic comments. Donald Trump was cancelled many, many times for reasons that I don’t have to explain.
However, cancelled culture can also affect people who make just one small mistake. Last year, UK YouTuber Zoella had people cancelling her for something she probably can’t remember doing. Her old tweets from a decade ago were dug up and were… less than savoury. Yes, these tweets were offensive and had not aged well, but instead of allowing Zoe to make a full apology and explain that she had since grown and didn’t hold those same views, she was cancelled.
After that incident, Twitter trolls have been scouring the depths of the internet for wrongdoings of influencers and celebrities from years and years ago, some of which happened when they were young teens. As these discoveries go viral, the celebs are immediately cancelled without fans waiting for a statement.
WHY IT’S PROBLEMATIC
I do have to reiterate that any of the obvious reasons I mentioned that someone would be cancelled are, in fact, valid. If someone is a categorically bad person, they need cancelling. However, taking a tweet someone made when they were 14 and using that against them now they’re 25, is not okay unless they haven’t changed their opinion. Teens say stupid things, especially if their peers and parents say stupid things too. It’s not until you’re an adult that you’re really made aware of the weight of those stupid things.
Careers have been lost because of mistakes made in the past, like the Guardians of the Galaxy director being fired for old tasteless jokes he tweeted years ago. It was just a slew of bad jokes which happened before he worked on Guardians, but he did end up being fired. His job was reinstated after the cast refused to work with a different director, but others may not be so lucky. I’m not sure how I feel about this situation, as the jokes were frequent and frankly, pretty disgusting.
Cancelling others without waiting for them to explain stops the discussion from ever taking place. Instead of talking to the community and understanding why the uproar happened, we’re not letting them learn and improve themselves, which just creates bitter people who are more likely to stay offensive.
LIFE AFTER BEING CANCELLED
For most people, it’s not the end of the world. They make a statement (or ignore it) and people move on. Sometimes, if the misdeed is severe enough, they get real-life cancelled, as they should. There’s also a weird middle ground, where the cancelled person lives their life fairly normally, but there’s still a large number of people who refuse to support and bring up the past frequently.
A person and brand that comes to mind for me is Kat Von D. She’s had a shady past, with some anti-Semitic drama and ‘beef’ with Jeffree Star (another cancelled brand/person) but the most recent issue was with her choice not to vaccinate her child. I personally agree with the majority, that she shouldn’t be given a platform to spread scaremongering about something that could potentially cause deaths of children, and I will not be supporting her in any way, but she still has a large cult following and successful makeup brand .
It’s a tricky one, with multiple layers. Should we be cancelling people without giving them a chance to apologise for past behaviours and explain their current feelings? No. Should we be cancelling people who are bad people that marginalise, spread hate or cause drama constantly? Yes! Of course. Don’t give them a platform.
I think the main issue is trying to seek out every little thing that someone does and find a way to manipulate it to make it suit a particular agenda. I’m sure someone could find something I’ve done in the past and use it to ‘cancel’ me, even though I’ve always been squeaky clean and kind. It’s a tricky world to navigate out there, especially in the public eye. My advice? Delete your old tweets, but importantly – be a decent person.