The cancel culture debate

Cancel culture has become normalized by users on social media platforms and it spares nobody. A-list celebrities and small content creators alike have become targets of cancelling.  

Cancel culture is a practice in which a group of people express their disapproval of someone’s actions by withdrawing all support and encouraging others to do the same. Cancelling often ends with their target being ostracized and losing future opportunities. 

Graphic by Veronica Mascorro

It seems to have originated from a misogynistic joke. Aja Romano from Vox writes, “Possibly the first reference to canceling someone comes with the 1991 film New Jack City, in which Wesley Snipes plays a gangster named Nino Brown. In one scene, after his girlfriend breaks down because of all the violence he’s causing, he dumps her by saying, “Cancel that bitch. I’ll buy another one. 

“Cancel culture in social media is blowing up and is pretty much unavoidable when you regularly use multiple social media platforms,” general studies major Zay Gentry said. “It’s gotten to the point that it seems like everyone’s favorite people are getting cancelled for this or that reason from the past. Sometimes it’s well deserved, many sex offenders and pedophiles get found out and cancelled all the time and that makes me very happy. However, for the majority of the time, people will attempt to cancel celebrities or social media influencers for things that are genuinely petty.”  

Though many public figures have had to deal with cancel culture, few people have been cancelled to the degree that TikTok user @emmuhlu has. In the beginning, she used her platform to speak on racism, equality, feminism and mental health. She was transparent with her own struggles and her 1.4 million followers saw her as relatable and trustworthy.  

This content attracted an audience of socially aware young adults who held her same beliefs, and that is one of the reasons why her cancelling was so severe. Last year, someone released videos from an old Instagram account showing her saying the n word on multiple occasions. Her followers viewed this behavior as a betrayal.  

In the aftermath of this scandal she lost thousands of followers, she was doxed, repeatedly mocked and harassed. Because she was vocal about her mental health struggles there were rumors that she overdosed and was in the hospital.  

She has repeatedly tried to come back to TikTok, but she has yet to achieve the same level of success she had before. As of now, her TikTok account has been banned due to multiple community guideline violations and she has released multiple singles and an album under the name Emma Lu.  

Cancel culture has also found a space in politics. The Republican party has repeatedly voiced their disdain for this practice. 

When accepting his party’s nomination during the RNC, former president Donald Trump said, “The goal of cancel culture is to make decent Americans live in fear of being fired, expelled, shamed, humiliated and driven from society as we know it.”  

Cancel culture is a polarizing topic. Some see it as simply holding people accountable for past misdeeds and others view it as dangerous and question why publicly shunning someone seems like the right thing to do.