Sarah Hinton is a senior politics major
From YouTubers to stand-up comedians to conservative activists, it seems that everyone has pointed to cancel culture as being one of the many things wrong with this generation (it might even be worse than selfies).
Cancel culture is the concept of withdrawing support from a public figure or artist after they commit a “problematic” act. The word “problematic” itself has been used to uselessness with the term describing acts from an offensive Halloween costume to flat-out sexual assault. Critics of cancel culture accuse the general millennial public of ruining careers over mere moments.
I am going to be blunt with my thoughts on this:
Cancel culture is fake and used by the privileged in order to avoid criticism.
Think about your own favorite celebrities — how often have you stopped listening to them because they were “canceled?” In 2009, it was made public that Chris Brown abused his then-girlfriend Rihanna. What else happened later that year? Chris Brown’s album, “Graffiti,” sold over one-hundred thousand copies in its first week.
Last year, comedian Kevin Hart’s old homophobic tweets were unearthed, and due to the ensuing backlash, he stepped down from hosting the Academy Awards. This was used as one of the biggest examples of cancel culture, but for someone who has been canceled, he still has a very successful career. He’s going to be in the next “Jumanji” movie and is producing the movie “Fatherhood.”
From Mel Gibson starring in movies again to John Mayer having a successful music career, cancel culture implies that we, as a society, have a longer memory than we actually do. What happens is that we often get heated on social media for a week before we move on. And, often, people only cancel celebrities they already didn’t like in the first place.
How many people who, after 2016, said they would never listen to another Kanye West album actually listened to him before he announced he was a supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump?
The reason why cancel culture rarely exists in Hollywood is because most people do not support celebrities solely because of their politics or opinions on social issues. Very few people think their favorite musicians are also brilliant political thinkers. Generally speaking, unless a celebrity has done something inexcusably awful, most people are willing to stomach some bad opinions for a funny movie or catchy song.
In the entertainment industry, cancel culture is often just another word for criticism. For example, in stand-up comedy, comedians such as Dave Chapelle and Jerry Seinfeld often complain about how college kids do not like their jokes. However, the truth of it is that humor changes over time, and it’s ironic to mock people for being sensitive just because they didn’t laugh at your jokes.
In the entertainment industry, cancel culture is often just another word for criticism
People don’t have to listen to or watch what they don’t agree with, and oftentimes minority groups are blamed for cancel culture rather than those who’ve been “canceled.” Personally, when I hear a celebrity or a fan complain about a celebrity being canceled, I don’t hear someone defending themselves from criticism, but denying that the criticism has any validity.
For example, do I personally think you should stop listening to an artist because of offensive comments? No. However, I do acknowledge that those who are offended have a point, and the Washington Examiner consequently needs to stop posting op-eds about how comedians aren’t allowed to be funny anymore because some people don’t find the jokes funny.
Cancel culture is not real. Many people who have been “canceled” often just had to take a social media hiatus for a month before resuming to life as normal. Let’s hope comedians now have to be more creative.