Cancel Culture’s Reach
While cancel culture’s reach is boundless in its pursuit of “social justice,” it has completely avoided certain people, mainly celebrities. Recently, makeup youtuber James Charles(who was previously accused of grooming underage boys) was recently accused of exchanging inappropriate messages with two minors. After the allegations started gaining immense momentum on Twitter and Tik Tok, he posted a video accepting “responsibility” for ”…my actions and how they were wrong,” However he also claimed that he was told by the kids that they were 18 (apparently both kids were around 16). Despite these and several other disturbing accusations James hasn’t been cancelled yet for his actions. While he was replaced as host for a show he co-created called ” Instant Influencer,” he hasn’t nearly faced the full backlash of cancel culture as many others have . He faces zero legal action and hasn’t even lost his sponsors. Currently he’s still making videos as if nothing even happened.
Another prime example of someone escaping Cancel culture is actor Jussie Smollett, “Empire” actor who claimed he was attacked by two white racists in Chicago in early 2019. His assailants, who he described to be wearing “MAGA” hats and allegedly beat him, called him slurs, poured bleach on him and even placed a noose around his neck. His story picked up national attention as people called to “Stop Racism!” He received support from thousands of people calling for justice. As time passed, his story unraveled. Chicago police were led to the Osundairo brothers, former extras on “Empire” who claimed that Jussie paid them to beat him up in an attempt to earn more fame. Smollett would be arrested on “16 felony counts of ‘false report of offense.” But on March 26,2019 the Chicago/Cook County District attorney’s office dismissed Smollett on all charges. Something that would normally receive insane backlash. But instead the whole entire incident was sweeped under the rug. Instead of tearing Jussie to pieces for is unbelievable hate crime hoax, the media would proceed to bury it with the reason that” “hate crime hoaxes are vanishingly rare.” With the website “Quartz” going so far to proclaim, ”The Jussie Smollett Case Shows Exactly Why We Need to Take Hate Crimes More Seriously.”
How are some people able to avoid the wrath of Cancel culture? Their isn’t a solid answer for it, but allow me to speculate. Certain people escape Cancel culture through political affiliation. Both examples along with several unnamed ones are all openly Democratic. People who tend to affiliate themselves with LGBT, POC, women, or other minority demographics rarely face cancel culture. It’s also possible that their followers turn a blind eye on their actions since it could damage their movements more than help them. Think back to Jussie’s or James allegation’s. If their actions were put on the front burner of the news and Social media, it would likely damage the groups they are representing(LGBT, POC). Can you imagine the potential setbacks the LGBT community would face if James Charles(a LGBT celebrity) grooming minors got on either Fox or CNN news? Or the how fast the the “Stop Racism!” calls would fizzle if Jussie’s hoax got the same national attention as his “attack” did? People “turn the other cheek” on theses awful actions in order to prevent their groups from receiving a damaged reputation.
Of course it could also be that they got lucky.
While certain people may avoid the wrath of Cancel culture. The rest of us aren’t as lucky. The idea behind it is to cancel the offender in order to fix the problem. But rather than fix it. Cancel culture makes it much worse. A example as to why can be seen in smokers. In a study conducted by researcher at UCLA two groups of smokers were brought in and given several tasks to do. Both groups were given several cigarettes of their favorite brand. The goal of the research was to see how long the groups could do their tasks before they need to smoke. The only difference between the groups is that group 1 was given a neutral message about their participation in the experiment while group 2 was randomly exposed to negative stereotypes about smokers culled from former antismoking campaigns. Through the experiment it was discovered that ”Participants exposed to the stigmatizing messages lighted up(smoked) sooner, on average, than participants in the control group. ” In fact after 40 minutes almost all of group 2 had started to smoke, while only 20% of group one did. One of the underlying reasons this happened is a psychological phenomenon known as stereotype threat were”…people are so anxious about being identified in a negative way that they end end confirming the behaviors they are trying so hard to disprove.” It’s basically like a self fulling prophecy, you end up becoming the thing your trying to avoid. Unfortunately this kind of behavior isn’t solely restricted to smoking either.
This kind of behavior can be seen by the targets of Human rights groups who are shamed as a tactic. In an article published by Cambridge university about rights groups shaming people it was stated that “Shame is indeed a potent motivator, but its effects are often counterproductive.” The article continues on by saying that “..shaming is likely to produce anger, resistance, backlash, and deviance from outgroup norms, or denial and evasion.” Meaning that through the efforts of shaming people the human rights groups are getting farther from their goals rather than closer to it. Resulting in the creation of more adversaries to their movement, causing the cycle to repeat. Cancel’s cultures attempts to snub out racism in people instead adds fuel to the fire. Pushing people away from their movements.
Reilly, W. Are Hate Crime Hoaxers Above the Law? . Acad. Quest. 32, 553–561 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12129-019-09829-x
Snyder, J. (2020). Backlash against human rights shaming: Emotions in groups. International Theory, 12(1), 109-132. doi:10.1017/S1752971919000216
Vujić, K. (2021, April 05). A guide to the many, many scandals of James Charles. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.thecut.com/article/james-charles-allegations-and-accusations-explained.html
Holding myself accountable. (2021, April 01). Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GsjwRp8_lWA