Anyone and anything can be cancelled in our pop culture crazed social media culture that we exist in today.
Urban Dictionary defines “canceled” as dismissing someone or rejecting an idea or individual. Keeping that in mind, cancel culture is the recent trend of canceling individuals, organizations or products when they do something that the public does not approve of.
“When you have celebrities who have done problematic or harmful things, you have to cancel them,” said Sylvia Rust, a Women’s Studies student at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Rust went on to explain that we have created a society that is more critical of others who’ve done problematic things. “It has helped our society and has been a beneficial piece of today’s pop culture.”
Comedian Kevin Hart is a very recent example of cancel culture in action.
“Kevin Hart was about to host one of the biggest nights in television when he was deemed canceled. Nothing can stop cancel culture,” Rust said. After Hart was announced to as host of the Oscars last December, several of the comedian’s homophobic tweets resurfaced online. Twitter users began deeming Hart as canceled and he ended up backing out of the hosting gig.
Purdue Fort Wayne student and president of Campus Feminists of Solidarity, Jenn Reeve, explained that Black Twitter should be credited for cancel culture. Black Twitter, the active Black network of Twitter users, has been a large part of how Twitter has remained such a large platform.
“It really is a great thing that was born out of Black Twitter as a way to boycott problematic celebrities,” Reeve said. “Cancel culture and Black Twitter reaffirmed Twitter’s base, it would have failed without it.”
Secretary of Women’s Studies, Hayley King, was not familiar with the term cancel culture, but was familiar with the ability to call out celebrities or organizations that are in the wrong. “The #MeToo movement has given people power that they are not normally used to having,” King said. “It all highlights other parts of history that people aren’t used to hearing or sharing,” Reeve added.
The trend of canceling problematic people and organizations has created an even larger trend of transparency. With information being so readily available, more and more organizations are centering their advertising campaigns and social media platforms around creating a transparent and honest perception of themselves. If a company seems secretive, it will not be as easy for consumers to engage with and connect with them. If a company doesn’t own up to their mistakes, they may become canceled among consumers.
“If someone is doing something wrong, they will be held accountable now. We are more critical of others and are willing to try to put a stop to them,” Rust said.
Facebook went through a rather large privacy scandal this past year and has been working to increase transparency with its users to avoid any further issues. They publish “transparency reports” rather frequently, but it still has been difficult for the company to fully gain back the trust of the public. Even while publishing pieces about transparency, the company is still seen as rather secretive and as a big machine.
Becoming more aware and critical as a society plays a large part in the creation and growth of cancel culture. With so much information at our finger tips, it is easy to observe celebrities and large organizations. If someone or a company is in the wrong, it is hard for them to get away with it. When Facebook went through its privacy scandal, their stock fell more than 20%. They also experienced the slowest quarterly user growth since 2011. While Facebook was still widely successful, it did experience many problems due to their lack of honesty.
There are more people listening and observing now than ever before and they now have the power to speak up. Cancel culture will continue to thrive in a social media minded society that still gives platforms to problematic people and companies.