Does Cancel Culture Work?
This article was written by Lonestar Writer Gabrielle Choi
Because of social media, celebrity culture is bigger than ever. The lives of famous people are easily exposed online. With this new ability, celebrities and other prominent figures lose their privacy and their right to make mistakes. Everyone deserves a chance to apologize, even if they are not forgiven. Celebrities make mistakes too, and they should not be torn apart for something small or something from the past that they have learned and grown from. When people are in the public eye, others tend to forget that they are also regular people. They need to be held accountable, of course, but as long as they have genuinely apologized and have become better people, they deserve to be given a chance.
When someone makes a mistake, they are “cancelled” on social media, primarily Twitter, by fans who think the person deserves to lose their platform. For example, Shane Dawson, a formerly prominent creator, was cancelled when people discovered that he had an intensely problematic history including racist skits and sexualizing minors. After intense backlash on social media, Dawson posted an apology video on Youtube and hasn’t posted another video since. In this case, cancel culture did some good. The facts that were uncovered about Shane Dawson were not easily forgivable mistakes, and a majority of people believe that his apology was not good enough and did not justify his many terrible actions. People also believe that Dawson did not take accountability for his actions in the apology. His mistakes are big and there are many of them, more than I’ve mentioned, and most people find them to be unforgivable, unjustifiable actions. However, cancel culture doesn’t always help or even make sense, and often goes too far.
They say that nothing you put on the Internet is ever truly gone. Because of this, the pasts of people in the public eye are easily revealed to the public. Can you imagine having everything you’ve ever said or posted online being shown to millions of people? For most people, it’s an anxiety-inducing thought, because a lot of things we’ve put online are just for our friends. Undoubtedly, keeping people who have large platforms online accountable is vital for our society’s safety. However, cancel culture has devolved into people who dislike a celebrity trying their best to tear them down without good reason.
Some old posts from singer Cavetown, or Robin Skinner, surfaced last year. They contained racist and anti-semitic statements, as well as a transphobic slur. He apologized extensively and considerately, and although it is not my place to say whether he deserves forgiveness, it seems he takes full accountability and has genuinely changed since then. He was also forced to reveal that he was transgender, whether or not he wanted to, to defend his use of the slur. If his old posts had not been found and thrust into the public the way they were, he would have been able to come out, or not, on his own terms. His racist and anti-semitic statements may be unforgivable to some, which is completely justified, but forcing someone out of the closet is never okay.
Cancel culture has a good premise, but sometimes it goes too far. It also sometimes does not do enough. For example, Trisha Paytas. She has made a lot of mistakes, and it seems like she’s mocked and offended almost every group there is. Each time, people are angered, and she is “cancelled.” However, she still has a large platform, and it continues to grow despite, and maybe even because of her mistakes. In this instance, cancel culture put Trisha Paytas in the spotlight rather than the other way around, and it seems that she doesn’t truly learn from her mistakes.
Because of cancel culture’s constant need to attack any famous person someone doesn’t like, posts from the past have been unfairly brought up, and good people who take responsibility and change for the better have been unfairly attacked. Cancel culture, as it is, does not work. The idea of mass amounts of people holding influential people accountable is admirable, but currently the way we do it isn’t productive or effective. Cancel culture right now is mostly a mob of people on social media determined to “expose” people they don’t like, and it isn’t doing any good. There are instances in which cancel culture has been beneficial, however, and I hope that we can refine cancel culture to keep celebrities accountable while also allowing those who are truly sorry to express their remorse and grow.