Witting: To Cancel “Cancel Culture”

Witting discusses different elements of cancel culture and how it impacts different "canceled" people. - Graphics Editor / Julia Quennessen

By now, everybody has heard of the popular online practice referred to as “cancel culture.” Cancel culture falls under the branch of public shaming, as it often spreads through social media. Seen as a way to “justly” punish celebrities for their actions, cancel culture now seems to be causing more harm than good in the media.

Being “canceled” can cause irreparable harm to one’s career. Many people are quick to forget every good thing a celebrity has done in light of one bad incident. In some cases, years of positive contribution and actions for the public can go to waste within days or even minutes. Claims with little to no evidence, year-old videos or social media posts have led to the downfall of once prominent public figures.

The main issue with cancel culture is that audiences continue to hold celebrities to a higher standard than everyday people. So why is it so hard for people to grant forgiveness to celebrities who show regret for their actions? Don’t get me wrong, serious offenses like sexual assault, racism, and other obscene crimes do not warrant forgiveness. However, everybody says things they regret, and with a celebrity’s entire life being public knowledge it’s easy for fans to forget how much pressure they endure to satisfy the public’s expectations.

This toxic desire to appear perfect has had an especially negative impact on the growing population of teenage “influencers”. For these teens, being canceled can lead to anxiety, depression, trauma, and suicidal thoughts and behavior. An easy fix would be for them to just not say anything that may warrant them being canceled, right? But as the world grows more sensitive, it’s no easy task.

It is important that people remember it is okay if celebrities have varying opinions from their own. Often, someone may discover a celebrity who fights for a cause they also do, growing their admiration for that celebrity. However, this new fan might then learn that the same celebrity also advocates for a belief that they oppose and may try to bash them for holding that opinion. This is unacceptable and must be put to an end because celebrities are entitled to their individuality and their own set of values. In short, if someone considerably disagrees with a celebrity’s beliefs then they should stop supporting them, rather than try to blacklist them.

The shaming behind cancel culture does not end with the celebrity; often if somebody continues to support a “canceled” celebrity they will receive hate as well. This mindset continues to fuel an unhealthy pattern of opinion shaming that ultimately forces others to conform to what the majority believes.

Ultimately, cancel culture is a toxic practice that needs adjusting. Rather than jumping to conclusions about a situation or the meaning of something that was said, people should wait to hear the full story before casting judgment on celebrities as they would any other person. The media needs to become more selective with who they “cancel” and be sure that the public figures’ actions actually warrant the harsh result that is being “canceled.”

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