Cancel Culture

An Internet Phenomenon Gone Wrong

Megan Teal
Managing Editor
April 25, 2021 9:39 PM
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Opinion
The internet can sometimes become like a mob of angry people (Hasan Almasi/Unsplash)
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Note: This story was originally produced over a month ago. Information, dates, predictions, and other details may be outdated.

May 10th in 2019, a video titled "Bye Sister" was uploaded to YouTube by the beauty influencer Tati Westbrook. This video made claims against another beauty influencer on the platform, James Charles. This went on to be known as "Dramageddon 2," followed by " Dramageddon 3" the following year, one of the most known scandals across all social media platforms.

Before diving in much further, I want to explain what “Cancel Culture” is and what comes along with it. Cancel culture has become very popular over the past couple years. It can also be referred to as online shaming. It is when someone who is in the public light, like actors, athletes, and social media influencers, does or says something that is offensive or too extreme. For example, bashing on religion, race, or comments on someone's physical appearance. Some scandals are not like high school drama, like who's dating who, but even more serious offenses that would send everyday people to jail. Some people feel the need to bring things up from their past and present because they believe the person should not be able to get away with it just because they have a following.

Tom Felton is a famous actor that has had troubling claims levied against him (GabboT/Wikimedia Commons)

Some reports that come out though have since been proven false. Mainly people now, when there is an influencer/celebrity that they do not like, they will create a situation that makes said person of interest look terrible in the light of the public. Something recent ones being the claims against Tom Felton, best known for playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, Julian Dorn in The Flash, and Dodge Landon in Planet of the Apes.

On Twitter, an account that has since been abandoned tweeted that Felton had reached out to them, a "fan," on Instagram showing interest in them. What did not sit right was the fact she was under the age of 18, making the person a minor, and Felton is 33-years-old.  But the scandal didn’t last long; fans of Felton where quick to point out the screenshots the “fan” had posted claiming was proof were not real at all. These were claims that could have ended Felton's career, and or even put him jail. Lucky for Felton, his scandal only lasted a few hours and did not cause damage on his career or mental state, but sadly for others that is not the case and things can turn dark very quickly.

Back to the “Bye Sister” video, Tati calls out James Charles as being a predator, which is an accusation that should not be taken lightly. Tati explained in the now deleted video, "I know he has a way of getting what he wants." She had known James since before his fame came to him. She later brings up a story from a dinner that she had with James and some other influencers, claiming James tried to hit on and trick a straight male waiter after trying to convince James that he could not hit on him. Tati says James replied to her with, "Doesn’t matter, I'm a celebrity."

James Charles is seen here in another YouTuber, Lone Fox's, channel (Lone Fox/Wikimedia Commons)

After the internet heard what they thought James had said, it happened: James, after the video had come out, had lost 2.6 million subscribers in just two days. At the time, James was only 19, and everything he had been building since he was 16 very quickly fell apart. Not only did people start unfollowing James, they began throwing out the makeup pallet he collaborated with Morphe Cosmetics on.

Unlike Tom Felton, James Charles' career was being affected badly and was falling extremely fast. With losing popularity, his business was being affected too. His merch store, “Sisters' Apparel,” which was built off another influencer, Jeffree Star, was shut down.

If this really was what happened, and James Charles really did do these things, then what happened to him is valid, no? I would agree with you and so would the millions of people who were willing to leave James Charles in the dust, never to be seen again. What is interesting, though, is it was not true. People did not take the time and do the digging to figure out if what Tati was saying was true or not, they just took the information they were given and rolled with the “Cancel James Charles” train.

Therefore, Cancel Culture should just be canceled itself, because, yes, a lot of things should be brought up into light and people should own up to what they have done. But in other cases things are simply not true, and people are so quick to jump the gun without researching. The old saying, “You can't trust everything on the internet” is very relevant in the terms of cancelling someone.

People who are getting cancelled are not just at risk of having their careers put in jeopardy, but their mental health as well. In James Charles' case, people were attacking him online, telling him to hurt himself and things along that line, and it took a big toll on him mentally. “To have the whole world against you, how mentally degrading that is. It's not normal” he stated.  

He said he had feared even bringing it up because people would be attacking him for wanting sympathy even if he just talked about his mental health. It ties into the fact how it can lead to self-harm, "I had to deal it on my own”, he said, talking about not being able to talk the his supporters he still had left. In the end, James thanked the friends he had in real life who cared so much they checked on him in the middle of the night. “I don’t think I would have made it through,” he added.

The whole cancel culture system is toxic, from people attacking these influencers to fan bases attacking each other. People like to bring up the BTS fandom at hearing this. BTS is a South Korean boy band ho have become popular all over the world, and their fandom is known for their loyalty and toxicity.

One example is when a duo, The Dolan Twins, Ethan and Grayson, rose to fame from Vine and carried it onto YouTube. In the year 2019, their father passed away from a very hard and long struggle with cancer. Lots of fans showed the tons love because it is hard losing someone, but some, not all, of the BTS fandom had something to say. Earlier on Grayson Dolan had made a comment on the BTS band about how they were fainting on stage.  

The fans hit back, but in a way that as way worse. Someone had made a comment on Twitter saying, "Maybe if he stood (BTS member name), he wouldn’t have died.”

Shane Dawson is shown here at the 2012 VidCon in Anaheim, California (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Fandoms and people are what make something that help and bring justice for people's wrongdoing, like how it did for Shane Dawson. Shane Dawson was at the top of his success on YouTube after almost 10 years of creating content. People had fallen in love with his documentary style videos.

Before, he used to make comedy type videos which maybe back in the day got a couple chuckles, but today is something that would hurt and enrage people. Videos from Shane’s comedy second channel resurfaced, and had many videos of him being extremely racist. The videos included him doing blackface, saying the N-word, and speaking of African Americans badly. This, of course, is nothing like James Charles or Tom Felton's scandals. These were real and posted to the internet for thousands of people to see.

Since the event happened in June 2020, Shane has basically gone into hiding, and some of his fans are worried because he has been known to have bad mental health issues in the past.

Stories like these are the bad ones, where people deserve to be held accountable. But today people hear something and before even getting a second opinion people begin to send hurtful things and even send death threats to people. A lot of the time it is very reasonable to want to cancel someone, it’s knowing if the information is even true is the hard part.

What I hope you take away from this is to not just jump the gun on something but to do research before cancelling anyone. Think about how you would feel in the situation: information has come out about you, bad information, and people start saying hurtful things. No one lets you speak, no one will listen to you so you can put the truth out. How would you feel? So please, before you cancel, hear people out and research before you do something you regret.

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