Cancel Culture Can Be Toxic And Problematic, Change My Mind

Riddle me this, reader. The TV show “Firefly”,  Taylor Swift and my father’s flight from Denver. What do these three things have in common? All these things, in one way or another, have been canceled.

Cancel culture is a phenomenon that has cropped up in the past few years.  Originating on Black Twitter, the phenomenon of canceling is the act of no longer morally, financially or digitally supporting someone- usually celebrities. And canceling often goes beyond just people on Twitter. Many celebrity news outlets, like Buzzfeed, cover stories specifically around the “canceling” of celebrities.

The bare-bones of cancel culture are perfectly logical. Especially in today’s market where attention is a strong determinant of a celebrity’s success.   In my opinion, it is absolutely necessary to hold public figures accountable for their problematic actions.

I don’t want this piece to come across as “You young people are far too PC nowadays” or “No one can take a joke anymore”. If someone does or says something that doesn’t jive with you, then you’re absolutely within your right to not partake in their work and bring their actions to the public’s attention.

However, it is equally important to realize that cancel culture, while overall well-intentioned, is still problematic in many regards.

Canceling is Never Divided Up Fairly

White celebrities like Jeffree Star can get caught calling a black woman a gorilla and still have their fanbase and career intact.

While we’d all like to believe that cancellations exist in a bubble, often problems are far more nuanced than that. Things such as racism, misogyny and homophobia also play a large role in who gets canceled, how much coverage they receive and how quickly they can bounce back.  

Now don’t me wrong, that doesn’t mean that marginalized celebrities, creators and public figures deserve to be handled with kid gloves.

If you’re going to say and do problematic things, you better take this well deserved dragging.

However, white celebs like Logan Paul have a tendency to bounce back from public backlash unscathed while black celebs like Azealia Banks while receiving justified criticism for her actions, flutter into obscurity.  

Misinformation Can Be Spread

In late 2018, it was revealed that actor Ezra Miller directed a documentary about the death of Mike Brown, who was killed by police in 2014. Initially, Ezra Miller was framed as a police apologist by Twitter users and was promptly canceled.

It was later revealed that Miller had worked with Black Lives Matter activist and filmmaker Sol Guy on the project. They’re both quoted, “Racism is alive and well in America; it’s the foundation upon which the country was born. The horror and injustice of this death are undeniable.”

However, Miller is quoted also saying: “This is an issue beyond race.” Yikes.

Whether this is worthy of canceling is up to opinion, but Miller being a police apologist who sought to justify Darren Wilden’s actions is not true.

Is There a Time Limit On Canceling?

Twitter sensation and deer whisperer Kelvin “Brother Nature” Pena had to make his Twitter account private after his old racist and sexist tweets from 2012 resurfaced.  Out of context, this story seems pretty familiar. 

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However, the context, in this case, is incredibly important because Pena was a 14-year-old at the time of the tweets.

The tweets were indeed racist, anti-semitic and sexist. But not only were they from 6 years ago, but they were also made from the teenage edgelord phase. I’m not saying his tweets were right, but the context is indeed important. 

A 14-year-old making these tweets is very different than a 35-year-old man making these tweets.

Twitter’s 140 character limit doesn’t allow for context to always be crystal clear. While tools like Twitter threads allow for contextual accuracy, they’re not always used and read it their entirety.

Is Anyone Ever Truly Canceled?

One question we have to ask ourselves is “anyone ever truly canceled?”. Celebrities like Shane Dawson, Jeffree Star and Chris Brown have all proven that despite controversy after controversy, their careers still stay intact.

Now, there is proof that canceling does, in spite of what critics say, works. It was revealed that YouTuber Laura Lee had tweeted racist epithets, she lost over 300,000 subscribers and had business ties cut with Ulta Beauty, Diffeyewear and Boxycharm. So clearly, cancel culture works in some regard.

However, there’s a saying that goes ALL press is good press. And to a certain extent, that’s true.

When celebrities like do something unsavory, there’s an outpouring of support as well as with rage. Celebrities are time and time again forgiven for heinous acts.  

It can be complicated when one of your favorite celebrities lets you down. The anger, the disappointment, the confusion…it can be a roller-coaster of emotions. And holding our favorite stars accountable when the mess up is incredibly important.

But it’s time to look at cancel culture through that same critical lens.

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