The internet has become an integral part of a lot of people’s lives, with anybody being able to look up and post about whatever they feel like. With the internet nothing is ever completely removed, there will always be proof of anything that has been posted, and those post can be viewed by anyone who looks for it. For some creators, that can be the downfall of their whole career.
Many influencers on any social media have a huge following, leaving their fans always watching creators every move, dissecting their words and actions.
A result of the dissection of past and current words and actions had coined the term ‘Cancel culture’ which involves the ‘cancellation’ or the action of stopping the support of influencers and public figures.
Cancel culture had originated in 2017 on Twitter with the rise of the #MeToo movement and involved people trying to make public figures take accountability for their actions. This eventually led to influencers like Bill Cosby being cancelled.
With social media becoming more intertwined in people’s everyday life, and the influx of popular creators, cancel culture and the action of cancelling those creators has become part of social media norm.
Though Cancel culture originated with good intentions, with the surge of people joining in the cancel culture, it has led to many questionable actions, though not all of them are questionable in nature.
The reasons for the cancellation of a popular creator can get shaky, with the reason of cancellation being uncertain and a lot of Cancel Culture being “he said” “she said” and in quite a few cases, all that can lead to an influencer being cancelled is another influencers claim.
In the words of Emily Whidden, a student at Palmetto High School,
“There have been several times where the YouTube audience has gone on witch hunts on Youtubers over alleged claims that hadn’t been proven, which in the end were proven to be fake.”
A well-known instance of this, is the YouTube drama in 2019, involving YouTube creators Tati Westbrook and James Charles. This YouTube drama had spread to an extensive audience when Tati Westbrook uploaded a video. While this video is now removed, reuploads can be found titled; ‘BYE SISTER.’ The video was uploaded with the intention of the cancellation of James Charles, with allegations of James having predator-like behavior and coming on to people who did not feel comfortable with those advances.
This 40-minute video led to the huge surge of loss of subscribers and support of James Charles, which included people filming and uploading videos of them destroying their James Charles makeup pallets. The reaction was immediate and harsh, no one taking the time to question if the information that they were given was false or to try to get James side of the story.
Then on May 18, 2019, the situation was flipped on its head, with the upload from James Charles titled ‘No More Lies’. In this 41-minute-long video James disproves all allegations against him, proving he never acted predator-like and any relation he had with anyone was consensual, bringing up text messages and direct messages.
Suddenly, the other side of the situation had been revealed and people realized the rashness of their actions. The moment someone had claimed and put another influencer in a negative light, people in Cancel culture had ran to immediately cancel that influencer.
Though not all instances of cancelling lead to these kinds of outcomes where the claims are just that, claims. In the case of Youtuber Shane Dawson, videos had resurfaced of Shane in blackface saying racist things, including him saying the N-word. Now, Shane’s previous videos are resurfacing, and people are beginning to see how he was saying and doing borderline predatory behavior with minors. Even with Shane’s apology video, which was posted on June 26, 2020, seems like most of the support for him has been withdrawn, leaving Shane Dawson cancelled.
Cancel culture is in a gray area, in some cases cancelling the influencers is a valid course of action, while in other cases, either finding out the other side of the situation or even just educating the influencer can be the right course of action. Though in a lot of cases, it will be never known what the best course of action would be because of the abrupt nature a lot of cancellations take, to the point where people completely disregard apologies the influencers may make just for the sake of cancelling them.
Though maybe in some cases disregarding apologies may be a valid course of action.
As said by Emily Whidden,
“[Accepting apologies] depends on the person and the severity of the situation. I do not think they should be treated like they are infallible, but I feel like people deserve second chances. Other instances like Onision, Shane Dawson, and Dahvie Vanity are examples of people who should be cancelled and should stay that way.”
For Cancel culture to be successful it needs to be removed from that gray area and consider all other actions to take before making the rash decision to cancel influencers. The action of cancelling in some cases may be a valid course of action, but there are other actions that can be taken before that point.