Cancel Culture: What is it, Does it Exist, and Why Does it Matter?

William Poole

Harvey Weinstein“Harvey Weinstein” by GabboT is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 So, many news outlets report that Harvey Weinstein, a famous film producer, had been accused by multiple women that he was guilty of rape, sexual abuse, and sexual assault. In minutes, people are storming on social media about the topic and are “cancelling” him. Another example, a documentary about Michael Jackson releases about several witness accounts to Michael Jackson’s questionable behavior towards minors, once this film releases, social media blows up and is determined to “cancel” him and his music. There are many accounts of people “cancelling” others, specifically celebrities; sometimes it ruins reputations while other times it goes nowhere. With the new advent of social media and news spreading at break-neck speeds, Cancel Culture is something that has been popularized in recent years. Since many are not familiar with social media, many questions lie, what is it, does it really exist, and does it really even matter?

What is Cancel Culture?

Cancel Culture is an internet phenomenon where a mob of people boycott a person or corporation for their past/present behaviors or unpopular opinions that spark controversy. This is especially prominent on social media, where people will attack celebrities for voicing controversial opinions or will display questionable behavior (either in the past or present) by blackmailing them or verbally harassing them. Cancel Culture, while it can happen outside social media, mostly occurs on Twitter. Cancel Culture, is really, an expanded version of a boycott. Since news on social media spreads almost immediately, cancel culture occurs far faster than most normal boycotts. An example of Cancel Culture at work would be if a person decided to say something racist/sexist/etc. and it blew up on social media, or if a corporation started funding, hypothetically, a war on Iran and many would quickly boycott the company.

Does it really exist?

Many would argue that Cancel Culture does not really exist. Some would argue that Cancel Culture is a phenomenon only seen on the internet and doesn’t go much from there. While, in some cases, this is true, there have been cases of peoples careers being ruined on the internet from Cancel Culture. While it doesn’t happen as often to highly popular celebrities, many people who make their careers on the internet, such as Youtubers, Streamers, and Podcast hosts, can fall victim to this phenomenon and potentially ruin their life. Some youtubers have been “cancelled” due to allegations that eventually led to their downfall on the internet and many decide to quit. Some are able to escape it, such as famous Youtuber PewDiePie, who had been “cancelled” for a multitude of reasons yet his career remains strong. On the flip side, TobyTurner, a previously famous Youtuber, had his career ruined from Cancel Culture with allegations that plummeted his subscriber and view count. So while it is really just a concept, the effects of cancel culture can very well be real.

Does it really matter?

Does Cancel Culture really even matter? Some would argue Cancel Culture delivers justice, as it allows a large populous of people to massively attack people/corporations who commit horrible acts and spreads attention quicker. On the other hand, many find cancel culture to be incredibly dangerous and scary when used carelessly, and can wrongfully put down people who do not deserve to be put down. Cancel Culture is a tricky subject, as it’s really all about morality. While cancel culture has successfully called out many celebrities and corporations who deserve to be accountable for their actions, it also has wrongfully put down others from the result of a bandwagon effect and can ruin people’s careers whom have done nothing wrong.

Conclusion

There is no clear answer as to if Cancel Culture is wrong or right, it’s really up to interpretation and is situational. While Cancel Culture can be seen as both right or wrong, it is always important regardless to do research and consider context. With that in mind, Cancel Culture can be utilized more effectively and can prevent possible life-ruining situations. Cancel Culture is an odd phenomenon, yet not a surprising one. With the incredibly fast spread of news on social media, Cancel Culture is inevitable and will likely not come to a stop.