- Lauren Shields
Making mistakes is normal; they teach you to learn from your downfalls. Now imagine making a mistake in front of millions of people and having your entire career disassembled in front of your eyes.
This is the reality for actors, singers, and influencers alike in the new age of social media. This concept is commonly known as ‘cancel culture, a relatively new concept that is being used on social media to hold these people accountable for the mistakes they have made. Now, this is no new idea; the need to punish people for their mistakes has been around for hundreds of years. Verbal reprimands, detention, extra chores, getting a ticket, getting fired, going to jail; from minor to major, it's been seen before.
However, in my opinion, ‘cancel culture’ has become increasingly toxic and inspires a herd mentality whose wrath is nearly impossible to avoid. Everything these celebrities have ever done is out under a microscope until something is found, dissected, and ultimately deemed irreparable by social media users. These celebrities aren’t even able to speak for themselves as they try to apologize for their mistakes, and are silenced by people who may not even know the full story, but are instead piggybacking on the trend of ‘canceling’ said celebrity.
Nothing would get done in the day-to-day lives of society if this is how things worked: silencing someone for misspeaking and never letting them speak again.
Now, there are obviously logistical reasons to blackball someone from the industry: producer Harevy Weinstein having over 80 sexual assault allegations against him leading to a conviction as a sex offender, and Chris Brown being charged with felony assault against his then-girlfriend Rihanna. Roseanne Barr and the evidence of her racism, or J.K Rowling and her patterns of transphobic behaviour. Something these people always have in common is that they severely harmed other humans, either with their words or actions.
But what is not deserved is trying to ‘cancel’ people like sixteen year old Charli D’Amelio for having a disgusted reaction to the dinner her personal chef made her and acting “ungrateful.” This is the type of behaviour that does not leave room for growth and learning from your mistakes. This girl has barely lived her life and is being taken down over the fact that she’s a picky eater. Her comments were flooded with hate and the TikTok star even started to get death threats over something so miniscule that a simple apology should mend.
Another example is Adam Driver being ‘canceled’ for joining the marines after the devastating 9/11 attacks. He was hammered with claims of alledgedly being islamophobic, after which he did an interview and discussed the fact that that was just not the case. He discussed that his country was attacked and he wanted to help repair it. Whilst social media users flocked to ‘cancel’ him, fans drew to his defense and referenced works like The Report, in which Driver starred as a journalist questioning the CIA’s torture tactics.
It is so important to ensure everyone can learn from their mistakes, but ‘cancel culture’ leaves no room for these reparations to be made. Nothing gets done when people aren’t allowed to grow from minor hiccups, and it is my personal opinion that ‘cancel culture’ is toxic.
In some cases it is well deserved, when those actions are harmful to certain races, sexes, communities, and more. However, digging up old mistakes that the celebrity has clearly already learned and grown from is not helping anyone, and in turn causes social media users to silence them and not let them explain themselves.
‘Cancel culture’ itself needs to be ‘canceled’ and in turn needs to be replaced with holding these celebrities accountable by allowing them to apologize and learn from what they have done.
Kato, Brooke. “What is cancel culture? Everything to know about the toxic online trend.” New York Post, 10 July 2020, https://nypost.com/article/what-is-cancel-culture-breaking-down-the-toxic-online-trend/
Long, Christian. “Adam Driver Fans Call out Trolls for Attempting to 'Cancel' the 'Star Wars' Actor for 9/11 Comments.” Pop Culture, 23 April 2020,