Cancel Culture is all about calling out an individual online for their problematic behaviour and then boycotting them. The act of cancelling has mainly been carried out by Twitter users who create hashtags with celebrities’ names followed by ‘is over party.’
Over the years we have seen James Charles, Lena Dunham, Kevin Hart and more become subject to cancellation. Despite this, all of these people still have careers in the public eye. I thought the whole point of cancel culture was to give the cold-shoulder as punishment or at least to push these people to do better.
James Charles is a perfect example of online shaming not working. The first time the MUA was dragged was in 2017 for a seemingly racist Tweet: “‘I can’t believe we’re going to Africa today omg what if we get Ebola.’ ‘James we’re fine we could’ve gotten it at chipotle last year’….”
Soon this was forgotten, Charles made a sprinkling of more mistakes but in 2019 reached 16 million subscribers. This was until another fellow make-up YouTuber, Tati Westbrook explained she was cutting all ties with Charles because of his toxic personality. James Charles then ended up loosing 3 million subscribers in a few days and was slated across the internet left, right and centre.
Fast forward to May 2020 and Charles says ‘Hi Sisters!’ to his growing audience of 19 million. He has the second largest Beauty YouTube account to vlogger Yuya. His Tati Westbrook drama probably stunted his channel’s growth for a while but clearly not enough for him to step away from the camera.
To me, it feels rather strange somebody could be the world’s worst one minute and the next all is forgotten about. A passage in Lena Dunham’s autobiography spoke about how she used her younger sister for ‘sexual exploration’: “Basically anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.” When social media got hold of the excerpt in 2014, Dunham was declared an alleged sexual abuser. She was torn a part.
Dunham has a past of saying outrageous things that completely miss the mark and then constantly apologises for it. An example being a now deleted Tweet: “Ironically, guys, speaking out against Harvey Weinstein only makes you more sexually irresistible (consensually, of course).” Since 2014 she has had 15 different television and TV roles.
You can continue to bleat on about how cancel culture can ruin lives but know there’s a lack of evidence. Mass public shaming is probably not good for the person’s mental health whatsoever, however time and time again these problematic celebrities still work out on top. More importantly, they never really learn from their mistakes.
Kevin Hart received public backlash for past homophobic jokes which caused him to withdraw from hosting the 2019 Oscars, but that’s all it seemed to do. His films and stand-up performances are still successful.
We all appear to forget celebrity controversies soon after they begin. Then there’s a new scandal and the cycle starts again. You can’t necessarily blame these big names for continuing as if nothing happened. It is quite clearly us, their audience. We pretend to be woke, call them out, get bored and then continue to support them.
Okay, so there’s some who stop consuming the problematic person’s work. But what’s a few when you have millions? Cancel culture doesn’t work because nobody cares after a while.