It seems as though every week a new celebrity or public figure is under fire for something they’ve done – sharing an offensive joke, being racist back in 2010, or luring straight men into thinking they’re gay. Since shifting into a world where all of our actions, thoughts, and opinions can be grievously shared around on a wide variety of online platforms, everybody is responsible for maintaining their public image to a firmer degree, and anybody can be called out for just about anything.
Dubbed “Cancel Culture”, the act of purposefully bringing awareness towards problematic people – that follows a strict guideline based on political correctness regardless of the surrounding context – is not only unjust, but extremely toxic. And it is often done so in an attempt to shame, ambush, and destroy the careers of public figures.
As important as it is to call people out for their mistakes and assist them in learning to do better in future, the mob mentality that surrounds Cancel Culture doesn’t allow for second chances. Too often, however, the allegations made by those who partake in the mob aren’t really accurate and tend to ignore the surrounding context, completely stripping those in question of any ability to defend themselves – and then the mob ensures there’s no coming back. In some cases, perhaps this punishment is deserved. But all too often, those who refute the strict ideals of maintaining a perfect public image are bombarded, and their livelihoods lost.
The biggest issue with Cancel Culture is that information shared is rarely fact-checked, and “receipts” can be easily faked or manipulated to suit the intent of the mob. By now we’re all over the Tati Westbrook and James Charles drama, but the situation was a perfect demonstration of how easily incorrect information can be taken as gospel, and used to attack a person’s character or manipulate a complicated situation. And in our readily connected society, small issues can be blown up to allow anyone from anywhere to have an opinion on that issue. When you cross one bad action with the allowance for a global audience to see it, the hate-train can very quickly pick up speed. In this instance, James Charles lost over three million subscribers in just a few days. He was officially cancelled for a video that was made about him that included no evidence from a completely unverified source, his reputation depleted and his character assassinated by the allegations.
But the thing about Cancel Culture is that someone can be un-cancelled, just as quickly as they were cancelled in the first place.
When James Charles eventually did respond, he proved the allegations to be incorrect, using real evidence to refute the claims made against him. The public soon realised their error, and completely switched sides without a second thought. Despite this, however, James is still down over one million subscribers due to the whole ordeal, and rumours of his predatory ways – which have now been debunked – still float around on the internet, where they’ll remain indefinitely.
Another thing that the mobs who implement Cancel Culture tend to overlook is that, believe it or not, people can change! Time and time again, a new public figure is cancelled for having said something in the past that the public no longer agrees with. However, this is why context is so important to consider – because like people, the ideals of society differ as the years go on. And while those statements or actions may be offensive in today’s world, perhaps at the time they aligned with societal norms. Even so, if those actions were offensive at the time, with consideration to context, being cancelled over it achieves nothing in helping that person to learn or grow. This creates a world where no one can make mistakes – a vital part of developing and showcasing one’s character based on the actions taken to rectify those mistakes.
Criticism of one’s actions is justified – no one is disagreeing with this. But hurling hatred towards someone who has different opinions to you, or may have let slip something offensive will do nothing to assist that person in understanding why it may have been wrong to do or say whatever was said or done. It is what they do after being informed of their mistakes that justifies whether or not they deserve to be “cancelled” – once again, with consideration of the surrounding context.
All in all, the mob mentality that litters Cancel Culture is unjust and does nothing to prevent public figures from making mistakes. The toxicity of being a part of a group whose intent is to destroy the careers of those who slip up is alarming, and for these reasons, ‘Cancel Culture’ should be cancelled.