Online Networks and Social Change

#CancelCultureIsOverParty: Why Twitter’s ‘cancel culture’ is toxic and unhelpful to genuine social change

In the last few years, the social media network, Twitter, has become a breeding ground for social activists, ready at all times to call out and cancel public figures if they step out of line. It’s becoming more and more common to see a new celebrities name trending for the day; another celebrity who’s reputation has fallen due to a terrible action, a feud, or a comment made 10 years prior. In quite a few cases, the ‘cancellation’ is justified. For example, Ansel Elgort lost the public’s support after it was alleged that he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl. His upcoming movie, ‘West Side Story’, set to be released in 2021, is being boycotted due to his presence as the leading man in the film. However, I believe that, overall, cancel culture is a very toxic trend on the Internet. When celebrities are cancelled over a misconstrued comment, they are not given a chance to learn from their mistakes, grow, and continue to use their platform for good. This ‘cancel culture’ is unhelpful to genuine social change as it doesn’t teach the perpetrators anything; it merely erases them from the online network and leaves others fearing what could happen to their reputation and careers if they slip up, even just once. We should be encouraging a network where we let others learn from their mistakes, and give them a chance to grow, without destroying their livelihood. That’s when genuine social change happens. In this essay I will be outlining the main issues that lie within cancel culture, and how, as a network, we can respond better.

According to Merriam-Webster, ‘cancel culture’ is defined as, “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure”. (Merriam-Webster, 2021, para. 1). The term, ‘cancel culture’ only began being used as a popular term across the internet in 2017, and it’s rapidly grown into a controversial trend. One of the most notable first uses of the word, was in regards to controversy surrounding Olympic Gymnast, Gabby Douglas, who was victim-blaming sexual assault survivor’s on Twitter. Shanita Hubbard, a writer, tweeted, “Let’s talk ‘cancel culture.’ Personally, I am willing to give a lot of grace to young Black girls simply because the world doesn’t” (Hubbard, 2017). While cancel culture has been growing exponentially, it managed to escape its original internet confines and reached the political landscape. In a 2019 interview, Barack Obama said of the trend, “That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change… If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.” (Rueb, E. S. & Taylor, D. B., 2019, para. 10). I would completely agree with what Obama has said. Social change is brought through the re-teaching and re-learning of others. Others should be allowed to make mistakes, as long as they are willing to accept them and aim to be better. Yet, cancel culture creates an environment where a public figure can make one mistake, even if it was 10 years prior, and no longer be allowed a platform to speak, apologise, or prove they have changed. It is a very common occurrence that after a ‘cancellation’, if the person does try to apologise, it will be called ‘un-genuine’ and met with negative criticism. Once the online network has chosen the next target of cancel culture, it’s very difficult for the target to escape their fate.

One of the most notable issues with cancel culture is the risk to freedom of expression. The freedom to speak your mind and express yourself is very highly valued in the present-day, but it seems to only apply to people whose opinions align with the majority of progressive, Twitter users. As written by Victor Menaldo in the Seattle Times, “Becoming our best selves is the key to bettering ourselves. This means being free to make mistakes and learn from them. It means the freedom to speak our mind and freedom to give people the benefit of the doubt.” (Menaldo, 2020, para. 12). In this current day and age, the primarily ‘accepted’ way of thinking is a progressive, ‘left-wing’ mindset. While I myself align with this, which is common amongst Millennials and Gen-Z groups, I do believe in the freedom of expression for everyone. I may not agree with their opinion but I don’t have the right to remove them from a platform due to it. However, this seems to be an ever-growing mindset within the cancel culture community. Professor Sigal Ben-Porath commented on cancel culture versus free speech, stating, “They say something on Twitter which may be their views or may be a joke and they lose their job. This is the goal of a lot of these canceling campaigns, for the person to lose their job.” (Johnson, G., 2020, para. 11). When the online network has become so strong and so ‘politically correct’ that it can cause someone to lose their career and livelihood due to exercising their freedom of speech online, it calls for something to change. This isn’t creating social change; it is merely silencing user’s voices if they don’t agree with the generally accepted thoughts of the online network, erasing freedom of expression and causing people to fear sharing their opinions.

A very serious outcome of cancel culture is ‘doxxing’. Doxxing, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge”. (Merriam-Webster, 2021, para. 1). It is becoming more and more common to see people’s private details such as full names, address, place of work etc. published on Twitter after they have posted an offensive comment or idea. This trend became more well-known when Disney actor, Skai Jackson, began doxxing people on Twitter (including minors) for making racist comments. On July of 2020, she wrote, “Another racist that must be exposed. Her name is ___ and she goes to ___ ___ highschool ! The school knew she did this and did NOTHING about it smh” (Jackson, 2020).* It was further popularised during the Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s death, with people taking to Twitter to dox dozens of federal officers caught in photos or videos of the protests. While it is not illegal to repost information that was already public on the internet, doxxing does violate Twitter’s rules. No matter what crime has been committed, doxxing should never be the answer, as it puts not only the target in danger, but innocent victims in the situation such as family, housemates and friends. It is clear, though the use of doxxing, that cancel culture has very malicious intent. The intended outcome of ‘cancelling’ a public figure is very rarely to teach them of their mistake and allow them to learn, especially when doxxing takes place. It is to make it clear that they have made a mistake, and as a consequence they will have their platform and support taken away. In extreme cases, they will be harassed through the use of their phone number or home address, which has been published online as a form of punishment. Professor Amanda Koontz, on the topic of using tactics such as doxxing to publicly shame, “When you have these forms of public shaming…it turns social issues into something that is completely individualized…It puts great responsibility on an individual, and it does not [always] encourage actual societal change. We haven’t taken care of the larger institutional or systemic issues.” (Dudenhoefer, 2020, para. 30). This summarises the major issue with cancel culture. It is simply a form of public shaming, using the facade of social change, without actually allowing people to change. We should be targeting the major institutions or systems that create views such as homophobia, sexism and racism, rather than shaming and ‘cancelling’ the individuals who make or have previously made a mistaken comment. This would more effectively create social change without risking the safety and security of others on the internet.

Finally, one of the biggest flaws within cancel culture on Twitter is false allegations. Unfortunately, with the cancelling of public figures becoming seemingly easier, it’s become more popular to falsify allegations against celebrities with the intent to cause a scandal. This is unfair both for the celebrity involved, and for victims with genuine allegations, as it makes them seem less trustworthy. This is common with sexual assault allegations due to the #MeToo movement. However, I will be focusing on the false allegations claimed against YouTube creator and beauty guru, James Charles, which nearly caused the downfall of his career. On May 10th, 2019, Tati Westbrook, another YouTube creator and beauty guru, uploaded a video in which she explained why she no longer wanted to associate with former friend, James Charles. Within this video, one of the most serious issues alleged was that James had been using his celebrity status and power to sexually coerce straight men, branding him a ‘sexual predator’. This caused James Charles to lose nearly 3 million subscribers, while Tati Westbrook gained 4 million subscribers. Over the next 8 days, James Charles’ former fans jumped ship and he was effectively ‘cancelled’. On May 18th, Charles released his response video, in which he was able to prove through screenshots, that the alleged predatory behaviour was falsified. Tati Westbrook came forward, claiming she was pressured to make the video and was fed false allegations from other YouTubers, and James Charles’ subscriber count slowly began to rise again. It was a scandal that took over the internet, and caused many major news outlets to begin discussing the toxicity of cancel culture. The outcry from James’ fans in the days after Westbrook’s video was unlike anything seen from the cancel culture trend before, with people finding ways to demonstrate their disgust with the 19-year-old, destroying his eyeshadow palette product. “One dropped the palette into a bathtub full of water. Another painted a snake over the compact’s logo. Still another painted, in what appears to be Wite-Out, the words “Bye Sister” — a reference to the title of the Ms. Westbrook’s video.” (Safronova, 2019, para. 11). This scandal was the very epitome of why cancel culture has to change. Within hours, James Charles’ career had been destroyed, with celebrities and brands unfollowing him to protect their own reputations. The situation also severely damaged Charles’ mental health, with him speaking of his friend’s support in an interview, “I don’t think I would have made it through everything that went on without them being with me and making sure that I was okay and waking up in the middle of the night to check on me every 10 minutes to make sure I didn’t, like, literally do something dangerous.” (Rodulfo & Walsh, 2020, para. 47). Twitter’s cancel culture creates an environment in which false allegations can live and grow, affecting someone’s livelihood, mental health and career. Twitter allows this environment in which people are excited to watch and be a part of someone’s downfall, and jump of the bandwagon of hate before allowing the target to explain themselves. This is a large issue that has to be addressed by the online network, such as putting rules against hate speech in place, but also inwardly addressed by the participants in cancel culture. As I’ve said previously, we have to create a more forgiving environment where we allow others to explain, learn and grow.

Overall, I believe that Twitter’s cancel culture creates a very toxic online network that negatively affects the livelihoods, careers, relationships and mental health of the people who are targeted. It displays itself as a form of social change, yet its use of tactics, such as silencing freedom of expression and doxxing, are intended to publicly shame an individual, rather than change their mindset and advance change. Adding to that, the risk of false allegations and the willingness to accept them as truth, creates a dangerous environment that we, as an online network, need to change to become more forgiving of mistakes, in order to enact genuine social change.

*I have redacted the personal details of the individual to protect their privacy.


Merriam-Webster. (2021). Cancel culture.

Hubbard, S. [@msshanitarenee]. (November 18, 2017). Let’s talk ‘cancel culture.’ Personally, I am willing to give a lot of grace to young Black girls simply because… [Tweet]. Twitter.

Rueb, E. S. & Taylor, D. B. (2019, October 21). Obama on Call-Out Culture: ‘That’s Not Activism’. The New York Times.

Menaldo, V. (2020, August 10). Is our cancel culture killing free speech? The Seattle Times.

Johnson, G. (2020, July 31). Free speech advocate discusses growing talk of ‘cancel culture’. Penn Today.

Merriam-Webster. (2021). Dox.

Jackson, S. [@skaiijackson]. (June 5, 2020). Another racist that must be exposed. Her name is Danni Brown and she goes to Washington Township highschool ! The school… [Tweet]. Twitter.

Dudenhoefer, N. (2020, Fall). Is Cancel Culture Effective? Pegasus.

Safronova, V. (2019, May 14). James Charles, From ‘CoverBoy’ to Canceled. The New York Times.

Rodulfo, K. & Walsh, S. (2020, June 30). An Extremely Detailed Timeline Of The James Charles And Tati Westbrook Drama. Elle.

24 thoughts on “#CancelCultureIsOverParty: Why Twitter’s ‘cancel culture’ is toxic and unhelpful to genuine social change

  1. Hey Asha,

    I too wrote on the topic of #cancelculutre and took the same viewpoint that you have supported. Cancelling in today’s society is becoming an uncontrollable toxic movement, which I believe more people need to be educated about in order to stop it from getting worse.

    There are so many recent cases of individuals getting “cancelled” for actions in their distant past. How would you feel if this were you?

    I see it as completely unfair, with some exceptional cases where the act committed was unacceptable at the time it occurred as well.

    In my paper, I used the example of the brand name change from “coon cheese” to “cheer cheese”. Interestingly I had someone replying to my paper saying that this example was not valid as demonstrating cancel culture. They suggested that the brand had always intended racial discrimination through its name. This is simply not true, since the brand name originated from the family surname – Coon.

    This demonstrates how people can make comments with a lack of understanding of the bigger picture since it doesn’t directly affect them. This is why cancel culture is so dangerous and toxic. Because people can join the movement and remain anonymous. Protecting themselves while the target is helpless to the ridicule.

    My question to you is this. Do you believe that the issue of cancel culture will improve with time or get worse?

    1. Hi Matthew,

      Thank you for your comment. I’ll be sure to read through your paper! I’m glad we agree on the same points.

      I absolutely agreee that individuals getting cancelled for things they may have said 5-10 years ago is problematic and unfair without allowing the person to explain that their mindset has changed. Societal opinions grow and change through the years, as well as things that are considered ‘acceptable’ to say. We should accept that people’s ideas and opinions can be changed.

      I am not very familiar with the ‘coon cheese’ case, but I did briefly see much discussion about the ‘cancelling’ of the brand. It’s interesting to read that there are many different opinions on that particular situation. I myself thought this was an example of cancel culture, due to the amount of discussion I saw on Twitter and Facebook about cancelling the brand due to the name. However, I will have to do more research on that particular topic.

      To answer your question, I don’t think cancel culture will ever improve unfortunately. I believe that with our ever-growing ‘political-correctness’ in society, it will just get worse and more risky for celebrities to share any opinions or say the wrong thing. The only solution to fixing cancel culture is, in my opinion, to eradicate it. However, I am well aware this will most likely never happen. We just need to spread awareness of the toxicity and persuade as many people as possible to not participate. Do you agree or disagree with this?

      Thank you again for your insightful comment.

  2. Hi Asha! This was really well written and I found it very insightful!

    I agree with your discussion surrounding the bandwagon that cancel culture creates and how the disapproval of ones actions leads to public uproar which can be disguised as social change. I think you are completely right with that statement. Holding someone accountable and “cancelling” them are two very different things.

    Whilst the intent of cancel culture is to remove someone from the spotlight because they can be seen as damaging to society, like you said, hinders personal growth. The range of which issues public figures are cancelled over, wavers way too much. Accusations of being a predator and liking a transphobic tweet ten years ago should not garner the same reaction from the public.

    Again, thank you for sharing this it was really well written I enjoyed your discussions a lot.

    1. Hi Bonnie,

      Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you agree on my points made in the article.

      You make a very great point. Predatory accusations vs. liking a transphobic tweet 10 years ago should not be judged the same, as cancel culture tends to do. This was put very well, and truly captures one of the main issues within cancel culture.

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Thanks for your reply Asha looks like we’re on the same page, I’m interested to hear if anyone else has any good examples of cancel culture they can add to this thread!

  4. Hi Asha!

    Great read and very insightful. I totally agree with you that the cancel culture is extremely toxic and something needs to change. Scrolling through Twitter and seeing the hashtag #cancelculture or #Cancelparty, I’ve never really put any thought into how it makes both the viewers and the influencer feel, and reading your essay has allowed me to gain a whole new perspective on the severity of the cancel culture on victims and the individual.

    A lot of celebrities have been a victim to the cancel culture, 1 celebrity that comes to mind is Zayn Malik, where there was a hashtag #ZaynMalikCancelParty when he left the band due to personal reasons. This was extremely toxic as users did not comprehend the reasons behind leaving the band and caused mental health issues on the celebrity which I believe is unfair.

    I agree with you in saying that something needs to change and this so-called trend has to stop for the better.

    Great essay!

    1. Hi Saranya,

      Thank you for your comment! I’mm glad you enjoyed my essay.

      I completely agree with you on the Zayn Malik case. It is situations like this, where the community jumps on the bandwagon and cancels a celebrity due to selfish reasons, without understanding the entire story, that truly shows the toxicity of cancel culture. It is also an issue of others forgetting that celebrities are real people with feelings, due to the idolisation of them, as well as viewing them through a screen that creates a false perception.

      Thank you again for your comment!

  5. Hi Asha. I enjoyed reading your paper about cancel culture because it does relate to the current condition. I do agree that the ‘cancel culture’ leading nowhere but to toxic culture and when it comes to the question “Can cancel culture help social media user or influencers to develop”, I strongly disagree because as the matter of fact, cancel culture can affect someone’s mentally and caused them severe issue regarding to mental health, for instance they will become insecure, feeling worthless and could probable lead to them harming themselves; the fact that social media user’s now grasps thing easily and not doing a deep research about the particular issue, then they help on spreading the false allegation increasing the cancel culture which impacted influencer’s or social media user’s negatively.

    Lana del Rey was also the victim of this toxic cancel culture trend. Lana Del Rey didn’t take it well when people said that her songs don’t empower women. The artist tried to make a point on Instagram and said that many other female artists didn’t do that. She named Doja Cat, Ariana Grande, Camila Cabello, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé, but her followers didn’t take it well.

    People highlighted that it was not a good thing that she tried to throw other singers under the bus. They also called her racist, since most names Lana del Rey mentioned were black singers. She denied she was racist, but the hashtag #lanadelreycist was on trending topics, and she was canceled.

    This cancel culture is leading no way other than decreasing the benefits of people using social media. And if this keep on going, many people especially celebrity or influencers ( figures which we all social media look up to ) will quit on using social media to express themselves, to raise their voice and inspire people. Do you agree or disagree to my statement? and why?

    I also write my Paper about how Entrepreneurs uses facebook to create a creative community about business and sharing ideas also creates platform to promotes their business, if you would mind to read my paper :

    1. Hi Youshua,

      Thank you for your comment. I completely agree with everything you have stated. Cancel culture can severely damage a person’s mental health, especially if they are targeted due to false allegations or rumours. ‘Cancelling’ a public figure due to a comment, rumour or opinion has a negative impact on their career and livelihood, which in turn will negatively impact their mental health. As quoted in my article, James Charles struggled greatly with mental health issues after his ‘scandal’, and it began from false allegations.

      I agree that cancel culture is decreasing the benefits of using social media. There are many celebrities who choose to quit or ‘take a break’ from social media, and I believe this is due to the toxicity of the online culture. Cancel culture puts celebrities’ platforms to speak at risk. Public figures have a great influence and impact on the community, and they can help spread awareness of important issues, or, as you said, inspire people, through their platform. We risk losing this, due to the fear that cancel culture creates.

      Thank you for your insightful comment. I will read through your paper!

  6. Hi Asha, great article! I share your sentiment that cancel culture is a toxic online practice. However In regards to the justification of the idea of cancel culture, even though you say that the case with Ansel Elgort is justified, unfortunately I’m unconvinced that it is. I think this is an ongoing problem that society is dealing with that everybody involved needs to actively contribute to solve. But I sincerely don’t think that any action by an individual justifies boycotting the hard work of a collective they belong to , and affecting the livelihood and future of those around him. For example for Rachel Zegler (Maria – I think she was 16 or 17 when she was cast) this would have been a big break except that it may no longer be, not because of Ansel Elgort, but the reaction surrounding his issue. What are your thoughts on a possible alternative course of action that would be less detrimental than to ‘cancel’ someone?

    1. Hi Roosdy,

      Thank you for your thoughts! In regards to the Ansel Elgort case, I do think that was partly due to cancel culture, but as it involved an allegation of sexual assault, it evolved into a more serious case of boycotting the individual and the decrease of his support. In terms of the boycotting of ‘West Side Story’, it is a tricky issue. I believe the ‘boycotting’ was more of a call to action for the crew working on the movie, asking for Ansel to be removed and replaced, due to the allegations. As this is something that has happened before, for example with Kevin Spacey during the filming of ‘All the Money in the World’, it wasn’t unheard of. Recently, I’ve seen lots of support for Rachel Zegler and most of the theatre community are collectively agreeing that they will be watching the movie to support all involved, except for Ansel. I do agree that this could have been a case in which the scandal of one person greatly affected innocent people’s livelihoods, but luckily it was not. I also believe that Ansel would have been ‘cancelled’ or called out without cancel culture existing, as he did allegedly engage in non-consensual behaviour and needed to be held accountable for his damaging behaviour.

      I do agree with you that you can’t justify boycotting the hard work of others due to one individual’s actions. I don’t believe that cancel culture can ever be justified as it has evolved into something beyond social change, instead acting on malicious intent. Instead of cancelling people, I believe we should take the approach of ‘holding them accountable’ if serious allegations, such as these, are proven to be true. This breeds an environment that promotes social change and doesn’t affect the livelihoods of others around them, rather than ‘cancelling’ and ‘boycotting’.

      Please let me know what you think, and if you have any other ideas of alternative courses of action that could be taken!

      1. Hey Asha! Thanks for your response! I agree that accountability has to be prioritised, but I struggle to think of a way that it could yield a satisfactory result for all parties involved. The reason it has been best to resolve a matter in the court of law is precisely to limit biased retaliation, but still this is rarely an option as the handling of law related matters are intentionally made to be expensive to discourage people from breaking the law. Perhaps the matter should be handled between the perpetrator and the victim or their family? While if a matter isn’t taken to court and cancelling someone becomes the norm, cancel culture is an action taken outside of the jurisdiction of the law, and could be done by people of unrelated circumstance taking what the perpetrator has done personally, so holding them accountable would be an unlikely solution. To my understanding cancel culture is a very heightened emotional response by a mass that cannot be held responsible as they seem to think they’re being vigilant in defending the victim.

        Nadine Strossen summarizes it well I think in discussing the diffference between “free expression culture” that seeks debate through discussion, opposite to “cancel cculture” which “seeks end, truncate and dismiss certain ideas and speakers.” If you are interested in reading Nadine Strossen’s work the link is:

        I hope your week is going well! Roosdy

  7. Hi Asha,

    Firstly, great minds think alike! It seems as though we have written about the same topic with a similar title. 😊

    I also pointed out very similar viewpoints that you have highlighted in your paper but wrote it under the stream, Community and Social Media as I felt that cancel culture has been amplified due to Twitter users being able to find a third-place in the ‘Twitterverse’ who share similar outlooks. I’m interested in what you think about that since it has bred a vicious ‘mob mentality’ and therefore leads to diluting the true essence of fighting for social change?

    I also felt that the biggest flaw in cancel culture is how misinformation spreads virally without fact-checking, allowing untruths to develop without any room for explanation or vindication. In saying that, do you think that there is a better way for people to be held accountable for their actions that are deemed unacceptable in society’s eyes? The counterargument that I came across whilst writing my paper is, what if these people show their true colours and are called out on a global scale instantly may have led them to learn the hard way? I know that there are innocent people who became the victim of the toxicity of cancel culture. Do you think there is a middle ground amongst it all?

    Interested in what you think!

    1. Hi Everlasting,

      I look forward to reading your paper!

      I completely agree with you that cancel culture has created quite a toxic community, and it hides behind a facade of fighting for social change. ‘Mob mentality’ is the perfect way of describing it. Many Twitter users unfortunately want to see others fail, and at the smallest hint of a scandal, the mob jumps on the bandwagon to cancel the next celebrity, believing they are doing the right thing ‘for society’. I do believe that cancel culture was first intended to enact positive social change, but has since evolved into something more sinister.

      I would also agree that the culture’s biggest flaw is misinformation. As I stated above, Twitter has bred an environment that wants to watch others fail. When a negative fact appears about a certain celebrity, people get so carried away with the idea of it being true, that no time is taken to fact-check. This results in people unfairly losing their livelihoods over false allegations. However, there’s a certain grey area when it comes to holding people accountable for genuine allegations. See my reply to Megan McNeill below to read my thoughts on this. I think cancel culture can take down people who deserve to be held accountable for their actions, such as Alexander Wang and Ansel Elgort for example. Yet cancel culture can just as easily take down innocent people who become victim to the toxicity. It’s very difficult to find a middle ground, but I believe we need to stop the bandwagon mindset, allow people to explain themselves and forgive if necessary. If allegations are proven to be true, and crimes or misconduct has occurred, I personally believe it evolves beyond cancel culture and becomes a more serious issue where people can truly pass judgement and choose to no longer follow or support this person.

      What do you think about my thoughts? There’s lots of complexities to cancel culture and I’m still trying to wrap my head around certain aspects, so I would love to hear your opinions!

  8. This is a very interesting paper! I’ve always been in two minds about cancel culture and still am not fully sure of where I stand.

    I found your discussion on James Charles especially interesting in light of the recent developments of the situation and I would love to hear your opinions! Now that there have been a number of allegations of James having inappropriate relationships with minors, do you think that he should be de-platformed or should he be given a chance at redemption? Also, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star have been ‘cancelled’ due to their involvement in the original scandal, do you believe this was fair or are they too victims of cancel culture? It is a very complex situation and I still don’t know what I really think but I’d love to have a further discussion.

    1. Hi Grace,

      I was going to state the same thing as well whilst reading Asha’s paper in regards to James Charles and the new ‘sexting’ allegations that have surfaced with two underage boys.

      I found that James Charles was given a chance of redemption after his initial ‘cancellation’ as he was able to continue on with his brand deals, regained his followers after losing them after the Tati scandal, and gained a vast new audience and platform on TikTok. Since the new allegations have come to light, I’m very intrigued by how this will all pan out especially since his apology video on the new situation was not well received by Twitter users.

      Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star on the other hand has a history of misbehaviour and resurfaced when the Tati/James Charles drama went down, in my opinion, this was a fair judgement on them being cancelled.

      How do you feel about the above that you stated? I am curious about what you think about it all.

    2. Hi Grace,

      Thank you for your comment! It’s very coincidental that these recent developments in the James Charles situation came out just after I wrote my paper, and I do have to say they changed my mind on the situation quite a bit. In the case of James, I believe that he has been given many chances to apologise and explain his actions towards minors, and his career managed to bounce back every time, with audiences giving him the benefit of the doubt. However, you can only make the same mistake so many times and apologise for it, until it no longer becomes a ‘mistake’. I think that this situation has evolved from ‘toxic cancel culture’, to genuinely holding him accountable for possible crimes. See my reply to Megan McNeill’s comment below to read my thoughts on cancel culture vs. raising awareness of a public figure’s crimes. I personally think he has moved beyond a redemption arc in the eyes of the public, and it now depends on how forgiving his fans are to see if his career takes a hit. Even in cases where crimes may have been committed by the celebrity, their careers seem to make a comeback unfortunately.

      The Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star case seems to be a bit different to the James Charles case, but just as complex. I personally think their ‘cancellation’ is partly due to their alleged involvement with the original scandal, but their previous behaviour and alleged misconduct played a large role as well. If they were simply cancelled due to their involvement with the scandal, I would call it unfair and say it would be an issue with cancel culture, as there is very little evidence from Tati Westbrook proving their heavy involvement. However, Shane and Jeffree have had many previous and current scandals including racist behaviour, inappropriate comments towards minors and showing support towards proven sexual predators. They, like James, have been given many chances to apologise and show how they have changed, but failed when they became involved in yet another scandal. I believe that they were once victims of cancel culture, but with the allegations and evidence stacking up against them, their situation has evolved to something of a more serious nature, similar to the James Charles case. But, as with many cases of cancel culture, their careers may well bounce back to what it used to be, due to their loyal fan bases.

      Time will tell if they are de-platformed, or return to normal. I do agree, these are very complex situations and it’s difficult to take a particular stand on cancel culture when there are so many complexities, positives and negatives. Do you believe that these situations were unfair cases of cancel culture, or something more serious that they should be held accountable for?

      1. Hi Everlasting and Asha, sorry about the late reply!

        I agree completely with you Asha. I think that their cancellations stem mainly from being given many chances at redemption, yet having shown very little growth or change.

        I personally feel that James Charles, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star all deserve their current ‘cancellation.’ My view on James being cancelled is fairly cut and dry as he has allegedly committed actual crimes so he deserves to be cancelled. When someone has done something like he allegedly did, he should be de-platformed in order to protect the victims and any other minors while official justice takes its course.

        However, I find the acceptance of cancelling Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star interesting as it largely stems from previous instances of pretty vile behaviour, which is often people’s main argument against cancel culture. I constantly see the argument that when individuals have behaved a certain way or made certain jokes a few years ago, they were simply acting as everyone did at the time or that it was acceptable at the time. While it is my opinion that people should know not to be racist, sexist, homophobic etc regardless, I can understand why people make the argument. Due to this, I find it interesting that Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star were cancelled recently due to their previous behaviour despite it not having a huge amount to do with the ‘Bye Sister’ scandal. Regardless, I absolutely think they deserve to be cancelled and held accountable for their racist, sexist and largely predatory behaviour.

        I went on a bit of a ramble there, but you clearly wrote a fantastic paper if it’s causing this much conversation!

        1. Hi Grace,

          Thank you for the insightful reply!

          I completely agree with you that people who have committed actual crimes should be de-platformed, as it can be considered dangerous for them to have such a wide audience reach. Especially in the case of James Charles, who has a large audience of children and teenagers under the age of 18. Due to the predatory allegations against him, this seems like the safest option. I questioned for a while if de-platforming was a legitimate way to stop a celebrity from spreading harmful ideals, because they could just move to another platform, which made me think back to the ‘Donald Trump social media ban’ scandal. I found an interesting article that talks about the benefits of de-platforming in that situation, that I’ll link below in case you wanted to read it! A very different case to James Charles, but interesting nonetheless.

          You do make a very good point in that a main argument against cancel culture is the unfair use of jokes/opinions/actions from the past, yet that is exactly what has caused the downfall of Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star. I think we can attribute their cancellation to the large amount of inappropriate comments from the past, rather than a single tweet that has resurfaced.

          Thank you greatly for your thought-provoking comments!

          Deplatforming works:

  9. Hi Asha,

    This is a great paper, thanks for sharing. I originally wanted to write about cancel culture, as it is something I hear about and see online all the time. I decided not to write about it in the end as I was genuinely uncertain on where I stood with it. After reading this though, especially the example of the situation with James Charlies, I agree with your argument. This is the first I have heard of the term “doxxing” although I have seen this happen before- I didn’t know there was a term for it.
    I think the worst cases of cancel culture are when an old comment or photo is pulled out of someone’s archives and re-shared without context.

    However, I do see some cases where cancel culture has been effective in bringing to light issues, such as the case for Alexander Wang which you may have read about before. Many people came forward with allegations against him, which he continuously denied via Instagram, but because of the overwhelming number of victims, it began to be hard for him to deny it.

    Would you agree that cancel culture has been effective in influencing positive change to any degree? Or do you think it should be abolished completely?

    1. Hi Megan,

      I too was quite uncertain about where I stood with cancel culture before starting this paper, but after some research I definitely could see the negative impacts it had on society. I’m so glad you agree! I completely agree with you about the use of old photos or comments being dug up and re-shared in the present context. Unfortunately, some comments and ideas may have been more ‘acceptable’ to joke about in 2010 than they are in 2021. While this certainly doesn’t justify the derogatory opinions that seem to reveal itself in situations like this, the person involved should be given a chance to apologise and prove that their mindset has changed along with the evolving times.

      As for cancel culture being effective in some cases, I do agree with you, but it is quite a grey area. This certain situation did bring about positive social change and held Alexander Wang accountable for the crimes he committed. However, I think cancel culture has evolved more into a toxic ‘trend’ than a legitimate call for accountability and social change. If there is genuine evidence and reason to hold someone accountable for their wrongdoing’s, I believe they would eventually be ‘cancelled’ even if our cancel culture didn’t exist. People in positions power, who abuse that power, should and are more frequently held accountable for their crimes. However, the environment that cancel culture has created is one that boycotts a public figure due to differing beliefs such as religion and politics, comments they made 10 years prior, and social media feuds. I agree that their have been cases in which people did commit crimes and were rightly called out for it, raising awareness and holding that person accountable, but I believe we are able to do this without the other, more toxic and negative elements of cancel culture. While I say that, I do recognise that without this ever-growing cancel culture trend, victims of abusers such as Alexander Wang may have never had the confidence to come out and share their stories. It is definitely a double-edged sword!

      1. Hi Asha,

        Thanks for your response- very insightful. I completely agree that cancel culture has evolved into a toxic ‘trend’ rather than a call for accountability. It is definitely a grey area though as there are some positive outcomes! Thanks again for sharing.

  10. Hey Asha this is a very interesting post, I was once a fan of the cancel culture as it silenced celebrities opinions for what I thought were good reasons. This post however has changed my mind as I do agree, by silencing someone, it does not leave room for social change or for one to learn from their mistakes. I do recognise the fact that cancel culture can be commented on, but on a case by case basis as some people warrant being silenced such as Trump when he was associated with the capital riots, he was rightly silenced by all social media platforms in my opinion, due to his irresponsible actions, or lack of should I say. This post also reminded me of the whole Johnny Depp scandal with his wife over alleged domestic abuse which causes Johnny Depp to lose his role in a movie despite also being the one subject to the abuse! I think Depp was wrongly silenced in this case, are you or anyone else familiar with this case? What are your thoughts, do you agree, was he wrong to be silenced? Have these actions actually caused social change or just uproar and lawsuits, I lean towards the latter.

    1. Hi Joseph, I’m glad my post made you think differently about cancel culture! I do agree that Trump was rightly silenced, as he was breaking the rules and codes of conduct on social media sites such as Twitter, by spreading misinformation about the election. In terms of the Johnny Depp case, I am familiar with the situation and I do agree with you that he was wrong to be silenced and fired from his movie, while Amber Heard, his ex-wife, continues to be cast in movies such as ‘Aquaman 2’. The lawsuit is ongoing so we cannot be sure what has unfolded, but I believe Johnny Depp was ‘cancelled’ and silenced before any proven evidence had been announced, and he wasn’t given a chance to speak for himself. I agree that this particular case has not caused any social change, instead just causing uproar. I found it interesting that within a few days, Twitter turned from #TeamAmber to #TeamJohnny, cancelling Amber Heard just as easily as they did Johnny, with the lawsuit not yet being settled. It goes to show that cancel culture lives and breathes on society’s love of jumping on the bandwagon, and we need to allow more time for delicate situation’s such as these to unfold before we, as a network, get heavily involved and pass critical judgements that affect people’s livelihoods.

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