Cancel culture: The death of an image…or is it?
Everyone has said or done something they regret at one point or another. Whether that means you said something that came out wrong or you did something that seemed great in the moment, everyone usually moves past it. For celebrities, it’s a different story.
September 21, 2020
Everyone has said or done something they regret at one point or another. Whether that means you said something that came out wrong or you did something that seemed great in the moment, everyone usually moves past it. For celebrities, it’s a different story. Anything that has been broadcasted, televised or even just posted online is never safe from being scrutinized by the masses. A wave of “cancel culture” has taken social media by storm, namely Twitter and Instagram, over the past few years and has become more prevalent in this new era of social justice. Hashtags like “#___isoverparty” and “#____iscancelled” are constantly trending on social media pages. “Cancel culture” is the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.
As a concept, cancel culture appears to be a positive practice: if a company or a celebrity represents itself in a poor manner or supports something that is hateful, it should be reasonable to stop supporting them. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. While common reasons for “canceling” someone can include racism or misogyny, some reasons for “canceling” can enter a gray area.
For example, in late May, the musician Lana Del Rey was “canceled” for stating that other artists like, “Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Kehlani, Nicki Minaj and Beyonce have had number one with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, cheating, etc…” but she writes songs about being “embodied, feeling beautiful by dancing for money” and instead gets “crucified” or told that she is “glamorizing abuse.” Although it was not her intention, many Twitter users started to “cancel” her for specifically targeting Black and Latinx artists. She later apologized saying that the reason that she targeted them specifically was not racially charged but rather because they were “some of her favorite artists.” Many social media users came to the defense of Lana Del Rey saying how it was a misunderstanding.
“I don’t think her statement was as motivated by race as some people think. I just think she was talking more about the culture of women in music right now. However, I think [Lana] only naming black artists was a bad choice,” says senior Lily Knapp.
But what happens when a celebrity gets canceled? Is their career over? Is any chance of them succeeding in life taken away from them? The unfortunate answer is no. A celebrity can get blacklisted meaning that producers will not hire them but this only really happens when they have done something more serious. Going back to Lana Del Rey’s case, she did not suffer any significant punishment for her statement. Sure she may have lost some of her fans but she didn’t lose her entire fanbase, much less her career. The reality is that canceling a celebrity will do virtually nothing. What will usually happen is that something will come to the attention of social media users, they will start the hashtag that essentially “cancels” them and depending on how bad it is, it will disappear within a matter of hours.
“As humans we make mistakes, but the point of pointing these out is to learn from them, educate yourself and reform that bad habit. But most celebrities are quick to write staged apologies with alligator tears just to salvage their careers. This cancels out cancel culture’s true purpose: to help us become better people,” says senior Allayna Simmons.
These “staged apologies” are often the final stage of the cancellation process. Celebrities will write out an apology on the Notes app, film a Youtube video with fake tears and several ads or some other insincere apology as a last resort to “save their careers.” However, even though the celebrities’ apologies may not be substantial, they still end up off the hook without a dent in their career. Even if the celebrity was canceled multiple times for the same reason, their apology always seems to cover it up like it never happened.
For instance, Youtube makeup guru and business owner Jeffree Star has been “canceled” time and time again for his racist comments. Many of these comments have been passed over as “jokes” and how he “didn’t mean it.” However, he continues to get away with saying these racial slurs and continues to uphold a career in cosmetics.
“Social media can be both a wonderful and terrifying place… Cancel culture is scary in the fact that once an opinion is made, everyone can see it, form opinions and most times contort the truth,” says Simmons.
In the end, people are just trying to educate themselves on what is and isn’t appropriate in our current day and age. It’s always good to move on from our mistakes as long as people take the time to better themselves and ultimately change society for the better.