Cancel Culture Needs to be Canceled


Rachel Ducran, Staff Writer

Whether you’re an avid follower of pop culture or not, you’ve surely heard the term “cancel culture” getting tossed around this past year. The term, which refers to the practice of rescinding support for a public figure in the midst of a scandal involving them, has been used heavily in recent years.
 Due to the pandemic, there has been much more to “cancel” celebrities for: the lack of a mask in public, large and reckless congregations, or even the refusal to promote health standards and suggestions. Not to mention, with all of the tensions running rampant regarding racial and sexual equality, there’s even more pressure for influencers and popular creators to donate, speak out or make appearances at marches and protests. Those who fail to do so receive backlash from a wide variety of people — fans and haters alike. While it’s wise to hold people responsible when they fail to demonstrate respect, is the act of “canceling” too far? Vincent Augello, a junior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School (SPFHS), thinks so.

“You can educate someone on what they did wrong while telling the world that that person made a mistake,” Augello said. “It’s better for a society to learn of their errors and grow together instead of leaving someone behind.”

Hannah Citarella, also a junior at SPFHS, agrees.

“It’s sad because, famous or not, we all make mistakes,” Citarella said. “If someone who made a mistake wasn’t famous, they would be forgiven, and their whole career wouldn’t be at stake. Public figures deal with hate forever, no matter how long ago it was.”

Cancel culture is a painfully unproductive way of showing someone they slipped up somewhere. Not only does it have the potential to ruin an entire career from the ground up, but it also blurs the line between right and wrong. Many argue that certain words can only be used by certain groups, or that certain songs can’t be danced to out of respect for their meaning. However, not everyone agrees with this, causing what’s deemed ethical and unethical to be misconstrued. This makes it easy for people to come under fire for things that maybe they shouldn’t, like using a poor choice of words in an old, resurfaced video. In other cases, though, they may also not be held accountable for things that they perhaps should be, such as regularly using racial slurs or feeding into an offensive stereotype. Cancel culture leaves little room for growth in society, instead it places blame where it isn’t always due and tears down successful platforms. 

“It doesn’t give people a second chance at their careers, and personally, I don’t agree with that philosophy,” Augello said.

Cancel culture still has its positives —  recently, musical artist Lana Del Rey has faced backlash for wearing a mesh mask out in public, and then again while meeting fans. Reasonably so, she was criticized for her disregard for public safety. The concept of cancel culture assigns fault to those who’ve participated in harmful activities, which aids in producing a positive environment. While it surely holds people accountable for their poor choices, cancel culture is ultimately futile when it comes to encouraging the development of morals because it doesn’t allow people to redeem themselves for their errors.
Tom VonOehsen, a senior at SPFHS, sees cancel culture for both its good and its bad.

“I feel that cancel culture spawned from a hunger to make positive change,” VonOehsen said. “However, I think that people have become a bit too quick to cancel others— so quick to the point that the person or group doesn’t get a chance to defend themselves.” 

Being canceled is something that present-day society has made immensely difficult to bounce back from. Public figures who release sincere apologies are told they’re not good enough and continue to receive hate. It’s an incredibly abusive way of showing someone what’s wrong with what they’ve done, and it hardly ever has a constructive result. While well-intentioned, the community of cancel culture has grown to be incredibly toxic, kicking people off of their path to success for a minor slip up or difference in belief from the norm. The act of canceling has unfortunately evolved to become a practice of tearing someone down rather than educating them and those around them.
That being said, maybe cancel culture should be canceled.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons