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Let’s Talk Cancel Culture

By: Nikita Shetty

Edited by: Ella Fasciano

Assuming that we’re all on a variety of social media platforms, I think we all know that people are getting “cancelled” day and night. But what exactly does this mean? Recently, several celebrities, influencers, politicians, and even companies have been facing backlash for their racist, sexist, or homophobic pasts. People have been digging up tweets from months to even decades ago, showing their ignorance According to the New York Post, cancel culture is described as, “. . . the phenomenon of promoting the ‘canceling’ of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies. . .” While this is a good starting point for understanding, let’s look into why individuals are fighting to cancel, cancel culture.

In a recent statement, Harper’s Magazine denounced cancel culture as “censorious,” also adding that this movement is, “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” But many twitter users weren’t too happy with their "call for justice." The furious users argued that every American obviously has the right of freedom of speech, but when it comes to prejudice against someone’s race, ethnicity, gender, or overall background, that simply crosses the line.

Still confused about what cancel culture truly is? Here are some examples of celebrities and influencers currently facing backlash for their pasts:

1. Jeffree Star

Jeffree Star is a beauty YouTuber with over 17 million subscribers, but this doesn’t mean he’s been the best influence on his audience. Jeffree has been involved in a number of scandals, but he has never given a complete apology, leading a majority of people to believe he is in the wrong. Some of these problematic issues include him posting inappropriate photos such as him self-harming, him posing alongside a Confederate flag, and him calling people “lipstick Nazis” for being obsessed with makeup. One of his most recent scandals involved him releasing a makeup palette inspired by death -- yes, during a pandemic. People were understandably not too happy about this. Endless amounts of people are dying globally, and the whole situation seems straight up insensitive, but, as usual, there is no genuine apology to be found.

2. Jimmy Fallon

Late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon has received a ton of backlash after doing blackface about twenty years ago. This incident occurred when Fallon was doing an impression of fellow Saturday Night Live cast member Chris Rock in 2000. He soon came to Twitter to make a public apology stating, “In 2000, while on SNL, I made a terrible decision to do an impression of Chris Rock while in blackface. There is no excuse for this. I am very sorry for making this unquestionably wrong decision and thank all of you for holding me accountable.” But some people are still not sure if apologizing is enough, or, on the other hand, if cancel culture is going a bit too far.

3. Lana Del Ray

The singer was under fire for a post on Instagram dismissing claims of her lyrics being not as empowering as other artists. She went ahead and bashed artists like Ariana Grande, Doja Cat, Camila Cabello, Kehlani, and other chart-topping artists by saying that they supposedly don’t receive as much criticism and backlash as her. Twitter users, as you would guess, were not too happy about the singer attacking these artists who are mostly women of color. People took to Twitter to talk about how the majority of the artists she mentioned aren’t even in the same genre as her, and that she doesn’t have the right to go around and talk smack about them. Soon people began to call her extremely jealous.

Judging by the fact that our generation has been educating themselves all day and all night, we all know that all of these celebrities have messed up big time, and that they need to own up to their mistakes. But is cancel culture the correct route to help educate these stars and help them grow as people? In certain cases, people have said that simply starting a hashtag or claiming that they don’t deserve a platform is slightly absurd, because it doesn’t allow these celebrities to learn and grow from their mistakes. However, they do agree that cancel culture can lead to change in the person if they’ve had a history of controversies and scandals, so that they won’t be able to harm even more people.

As you can see, this culture can somehow simultaneously be toxic and helpful, but something we all need to agree on is that we need to start educating instead of hating. No one is truly gaining or changing anything from hashtags or from unfollowing popular creators and celebrities. As a whole, we all need to stop assuming that people will learn from their mistakes on their own. Apologizing only does so much, and supporters of automatically ‘cancelling’ the influencers, aren’t helping them grow. Yes, we must hold others accountable, even if they are our favorite artists, brands, or creators, but there is a thin line between helping educate them and being disrespectful towards them for their mistakes, especially if their mental health isn’t at an all-time high. Next time we see our favorite stars making mistakes, we shouldn’t start making it a trend to hate on them, but rather to help them learn about the history and the true meaning of what they have done so that they can learn how to truly grow.

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