We've all heard about cancel culture, and we've all seen it happen. But is cancel culture actually real?
Now more than ever, celebrities are being 'cancelled'. Although cancel culture has been at the forefront of discussion in recent times, there are many opposing views regarding the matter. Normally a celebrity or a public figure engages or does something distasteful or something that has offended society, and they get ultimately grilled on social media. Then society decides whether this individual will be cancelled or not. And more times than not, they will be cancelled. We have just explained cancel culture in a nutshell, but what really happens after a person supposedly gets cancelled?
We have seen public figures be publicly cancelled but then a few months or maybe a year down the line they appear again. This leaves me with a question regarding the longevity of cancel culture.
Demi Lovato has shared her views on cancel culture, and she believes it's not real and instead of being called cancel culture it should be named forgiveness culture. This is because, from her personal experience, she has been 'cancelled' around four times and is still a prominent successful figure in the showbiz industry. Lovato stated: “I don’t think that anybody was ever officially cancelled". The keyword here is officially because, when it comes to cancelling culture, ordinary users of social media can deem a person cancelled; which I believe doesn’t hold enough authority. That’s why we see loads of supposed cancelled celebrities integrate back into everyday life and the industry.
However, Rapper DaBaby, who made vulgar homophobic comments and ignorant remarks about HIV, suffered the alternative side of cancel culture. After DaBaby’s comments, fans began to prompt Dua Lipa (who had a song with artist DaBaby) about his comments. She condemned them and distanced herself from him, as did music legends such as Madonna and Elton John. This then created a domino effect with many festivals and shows cancelling his performances.
Cancel culture hasn’t always been so prominent, but it has always been present in the showbiz industry. Professor Lisa Nakamura, from the University of Michigan, understands cancel culture to be a "cultural boycott" of a certain celebrity or brand.
Cancel culture has certainly been amplified by social media: anything can blow up on social media and society's ways of communicating has changed drastically especially, in the past two years in the pandemic. People online have strong views and beliefs, so if a celebrity’s views oppose a certain powerful group online, it could cause controversy.
The longevity of cancel culture and the questions about whether it is real or not are concerning; as cancel culture is quite a toxic way to go about things. Cancel culture ultimately creates an illusion that every individual is perfect and free from flaws. This is an unrealistic view to have as we are all human beings and nobody is perfect.
I personally compare cancel culture to heavily editing pictures and setting unrealistic beauty standards for young girls, as this causes mental health issues and low confidence. The same goes for when someone in the public eye has a mishap or makes a mistake that offends people: these celebrities are also human and naturally are expected to make mistakes every now and then. I believe instead of cancel culture, lessons can be taught on how to change behavioural patterns for the future when making comments or engaging in something that has the potential to cause an uproar.
It is evident that cancel culture isn't real, as celebrities always find their way back into the industry after being cancelled. Of course, the line that we are all human can't be applied to all incidents, but in more serious incident's justice will be served in a legal matter and the person in question will be cancelled once and for all.
In our current society, we must find a healthy balance between forgiveness and knowing when something is wrong and shouldn't be tolerated. Cancel culture is around and doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but let's hope it balances out to be a substantial tool used to advocate towards real change.
Written by Nyima Jobe