Why ‘cancel culture’ can be problematic

Julia Fabrizio, Features and Lifestyle Editor

The term “cancel culture” has been coined in recent years as people publicly shame or boycott someone, usually a celebrity, who does or says something unpopular or problematic. While the public’s reaction should and will depend on the severity of the situation, this dramatic action of cutting someone off is ultimately unhealthy.

The past year or so can be referred to as what Dave Chappelle calls “celebrity hunting season” in his Netflix comedy special, “Sticks and Stones.” Many have been under fire, including Michael Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Kathy Griffin, R. Kelly, Kanye West and Kevin Hart, to name a few. In a recent controversy, Shane Gillis was fired from “Saturday Night Live” before he even appeared on the show due to the resurfacing of past racist jokes.

Many have boycotted “The Cosby Show” and “Roseanne” due to the sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby and the racist tweet from Roseanne Barr that ultimately got her fired from her own show’s reboot. The problem here is separating a television program and a celebrity. The shows may bear Cosby and Barr’s names, but they are not at fault for the actions of their stars; ultimately, both shows were revolutionary in their own right and should not be discarded for their effect on history. “The Cosby Show” depicted an upper-class black family on screen, something that had never been done before, and “Roseanne” was one of the first shows to realistically showcase the dynamics of a working-class family.

These shows changed television for the better and they shouldn’t be ignored, but even I understand how their work has been tainted. I used to be a big fan of Louis C.K.’s crude comedy, but after the sexual assault allegations against him came to light, I could not find myself to click on his stand-up anymore.

Last summer a huge scandal arose among the YouTuber community too, and YouTuber James Charles paid the price. When Charles was depicted in a bad light, he lost one million subscribers overnight. The internet seemed to have blown up in an attempt to “cancel” him, but after a few weeks he had gained back his subscribers and his spot as the number one beauty YouTuber.

All this drama occurred with little to no result, except for the effect it had on James Charles. After the controversy, Charles took a break from social media for a month, but I presume he will never be quite the same. The whole internet was against him, and everything he had worked for throughout his life was at stake.

What people fail to realize is that these are people’s lives. Yes, some things are disgusting and unforgiveable, but in some situations things are not really as severe as we make them out to be. Once we get over it, these people are still out of a job and their lives are ruined.

Instead of putting all of our energy into attacking people and being critical of every little thing they do, we should rally for the things that really matter. Sure, a celebrity can apologize for their actions, but do they really mean it? So why do we care so much to get a reaction or apology from these celebrities who don’t even know we exist?