(Image courtesy of L.A. Times High School Insider)
Orange County School of the Arts

Opinion: The pitfalls and positives of cancel culture

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assualt, Blackface, and Suicide. 

Is it just me, or does it feel like everyone and their mother was “canceled” over the last weekend?

From Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson to Jimmy Kimmel to Justin Bieber and Ansel Elgort, multiple “is Over Party” hashtags were trending on Twitter at all times. 

Before I get into the importance of not allowing celebrities with problematic pasts to continue to work and the toxicity of cancel culture, let me break down what cancel culture is. 

Cancel culture is when the public (specifically Twitter and Instagram users) withdraw support from a celebrity who has a current or previous record of questionable behavior. Roseanne Barr’s show being taken off the air after racist tweets are credited by some as the “kickoff” to cancel culture. 

Another notable “canceled” celebrity is James Charles.

Last April, Tati Westbrook posted a video “exposing” James Charles for problematic behavior such as flirting with/trying to turn straight men and being very egotistical. He lost millions of subscribers and everyone on the internet was trying to make him a thing of the past.

Then, Charles came out with a video with evidence proving many of Westbrooks’s claims untrue and the internet started loving him all over again. 

When Charles came back to his YouTube channel after the drama he was very open about how he experienced suicidal thoughts during the time that everyone on the internet was attacking him. This is one of the toxic and terrifying aspects of canceled culture. 

Cyberbullying of people we know in real life in Instagram DMS and private messaging groups is something that we learn about in school. But millions of people cyberbullying one person for months at a time is exactly what cancel culture is. Receiving that amount of hate for a prolonged period can cause someone to make a choice that they can never go back on. 

James Charles’s past cancelation and scandal were brought back up this weekend by Shane Dawson who is and has been under fire for Blackface for the past few months.

Shane tweeted explaining his decision to leave the beauty community due to its toxicity and drama, but the line in his statement that everyone was focusing on regarded James Charles.

“Do I think James is THE DEVIL? No. Do I think he was a young egocentric power-hungry guru who needed to be served a slice of humble pie the size of the Empire State Building? YES,” Dawson tweeted.

Many Twitter users called out Shane for attacking James for being egotistical, whilst his best friend Jeffree Star has quite the ego himself. 

Shane and Jeffree are also under fire for racism. As there are videos after videos of Jeffree saying racist things and posing next to the confederate flag and Shane wearing blackface. 

Jeffree Star is one of those people whom it feels like no matter how many times does a problematic thing, will always come back from it. This is a good and bad thing because in some ways it promotes the idea that people can change and past actions don’t define one’s present self. In other ways, it teaches people that they can have a hefty past of racism and still become a millionaire. 

This weekend the three main cancelations that stood out to me were Ansel Elgort, Justin Beiber and Jimmy Kimmel. 

Kimmel was canceled due to photos of him wearing blackface, saying the n-word and mocking black culture resurfacing on the internet. Many users are taking to Twitter to point out that if Kimmel was a conservative or a woman, he would be off the air permanently. Many are also saying that an apology is not enough for the damage that he has caused. 

Elgort and Bieber were also canceled this weekend for allegations of sexual assault. You can click the links to learn about the details of the allegations and how Ansel and Justin have handled them. 

There is a big difference between cancel culture and people being held accountable for their actions. Cancel culture cyberbullies a celebrity into making an apology, going into hiding or worse, without ever really making up for their actions.

Holding celebrities accountable means forcing them to come to terms with their wrongdoings, pushing the networks they work for to take action and teaching others that you can’t just get away with a prejudiced and violent history.