The constant culture of cancel

By Elizabeth Del Carmen

Staff Writer

The past few years have come with many surprises from serious issues, like Covid, to more trivial topics, like the revival of fashion trends from the  90’s and early 2000’s. 

Despite the constant rotation of news and passing trends, there is one topic that has managed to stay constant – cancel culture.

Cancel culture or to cancel someone (usually a celebrity or other well-known figure) means to stop giving support to that person. The act of canceling could entail boycotting an actor’s movies or no longer reading or promoting a writer’s works. 

Anyone can get canceled. Famous author J.K. Rowling who, after voicing her transphobic beliefs in a manifesto, received a tremendous amount of criticism from her fans and despite their efforts of getting her projects and merchandise to stop gaining any profit still had a steady increase of income. 

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres came under fire when it was revealed that she promoted an extremely toxic workplace and a significant number of celebrities came out with statements backing up the allegations with their own stories of discomfort on the show. 

You can get canceled for anything from bullying, like Chrissy Teigen did for her tweets about Courtney Stodden, to inappropriate and unsolicited behavior with minors, like James Charles.

Cancel culture is not a recent discovery. It has been in the circuit since 2017 when it was used as a means of boycotting and calling out a person, mostly celebrities, for their problematic behavior and actions. 

It didn’t rise to its most powerful influence until those who created and participated in the #MeToo movement went into a full-blown attack of wanting to hold sexual assault predators accountable for the trauma they caused. 

Many people felt shock when so many allegations came out against everyone from the everyday man to the President of the United States. 

It was both powerful and worrisome that with just one person calling out another person for what they deemed to be bad or unethical behavior could potentially destroy the accused person’s life. 

This is where we ran into a problem of “are you trying to make the world a better and safer place or just trying to shut down something you don’t like because it goes against your personal beliefs?”

Cancel culture went from being a tool used by many to stop an injustice or abuse of a group of individuals to a trigger-happy weapon that, when used for greed and personal vendettas, causes more unnecessary harm than good. 

We saw the peak of this when the severity of COVID-19 changed and restricted our ways of life which resulted in the birth of “Karens.” For those who don’t know, “Karen” is a slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people’s behaviors. 

We saw a lot of these different scenarios, from not wanting to use a mask in a public space to attacking people, many of whom were people of color doing everyday things like walking their dogs or sitting in their parked cars. 

With the rise of positive influence of cancel culture there was also a negative side as we saw a rise in all kinds of racial discrimination when these women would use their white privilege against anyone that didn’t let them get their way.

Despite all the good that cancel culture brought with it over the years, it also brought damaging blows. 

Many used it as a means of turning the narrative and attacking the victim instead of owning up to their problematic actions. 

We saw this when Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump and, most notably, Jeffrey Epstein used gaslighting tactics to discredit and discourage the woman that came forward with allegations of sexual assault and harassment against them. 

We also had victims of cancel culture who should have never been canceled in the first place. 

The best example of this would be Johnny Depp who lost his roles in the “Harry Potter” prequel films and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film installments when his ex-wife Amber Herd accused him of physically abusing her when in fact, she turned out the be the abuser. 

Elizabeth Olsen got backlash and threats for not immediately posting about her co-star Chadwick Boseman when she was mourning his sudden death from cancer.

Cancel culture isn’t a bad way to change the world, yet some people may take it too far, polluting and ruining it for the reason for which it was created. 

We should be able to hold those in positions of power and influence accountable for their conduct, but we should not castrate them for previous actions. Especially when they have shown sincere regret and have been actively changing to become a better person.