If you use social media or keep up with trends, you’ve probably heard of “cancel culture.” It’s essentially socially boycotting someone or something in response to one or more offenses they’ve committed. If the cancellation gains traction, though, the canceled person or thing might even face consequences in their professional life. For example, losing sponsorship deals or collaborations with brands. Businesses don’t want to risk being canceled too, after all.
But has canceled culture gone too far? I would say yes and no.
The cancellers of cancel culture
People who start a cancellation are usually just random internet users like you and me. When they find out something awful that a person (who usually has some sort of fame to their name) has done, they “expose” this person’s actions. The same happens to shows or movies if, for example, there are certain scenes that are tasteless or offensive.
Sometimes, rather than discovering something, one or more people will open up about a negative experience with someone, and others will choose to cancel that person upon hearing this information.
Wanting someone to take accountability is a good thing, in my opinion. Personally, I feel like that’s what the true purpose of “canceling” was, or at least should be. However, from my experience, it’s much more common for “cancellations” to stem from some sort of strange malice born out of boredom, not out of actual concern for accountability.
The fact that younger generations are more socially aware nowadays is great and much needed. The problem is, though, that we often forget that people on the internet are still human beings too.
For example, purposefully digging through a newly popular person’s old tweets to try finding something offensive they said years ago is not out of concern for justice. It’s simply to try to stir outrage, because it seems that many of us don’t believe that others can be flawed but good people anymore.
The cancellees of cancel culture
Let’s be real, here. The “cancellers” can go too far by providing any scrap of “evidence” they can get to see someone get canceled, yes. This doesn’t mean that people who get canceled are always victims, though.
The spectrum of what people should take accountability for is pretty wide. For some people, a slur being said a few years ago isn’t that big of a deal if the person doesn’t say it anymore. For others, it’s still something that should be acknowledged and talked about. In my opinion, there are some things that just cannot be overlooked.
For example, popular Youtuber Shane Dawson caught a lot of heat a few months ago for just how offensive his older videos were. These videos include content that range from slurs to blackface to sexual “jokes” involving children. So, just because they were made years ago, I thought acknowledgment of these videos was necessary because of just how offensive the content was. The videos were still up on his channel as well, so it’s not like people had to scavenge hard to find them.
But it seems that being “canceled” isn’t taken very seriously anymore. After his initial video supposedly taking accountability for his actions, Dawson went onto his fiance, Ryland’s, podcast to talk about what happened. He spoke about what happened as if it were some stupid, petty drama that didn’t really matter, instead of the serious topic others found it to be. This is a common thing from people who are canceled these days. Their tactic is to act like everyone else is overreacting, and that their offensive actions aren’t a big deal, because… uh, they said so!
It’s a way to deflect blame by redirecting it to the people asking for accountability, and it works sometimes because many “cancellers” have given people who demand accountability a bad name, as I mentioned before.
The biggest thing to take from all of this is that sometimes there’s a grey zone. Just because someone did something bad a few years ago doesn’t mean they haven’t changed since then. But also, we need to actually look into what they’ve done, because some things are more easily forgiven than others. And, of course, we should compare those things to their actions now.
I mean, I know I’ve changed a lot since I was a teen. Yet, people I know from around the same time have stayed the exact same to this day, if not gotten worse. Thus, it’s a case by case basis, and we should treat it as such. Give more room for people to grow from their mistakes, but know what the difference between a mistake and an offense is!