Cancel Culture: Toxic Game or Justified Treatment?

Anne Frascella
August 21, 2020

In 2020 specifically, public figures in the spotlight have been getting canceled left and right. As someone who enjoys being in the loop about celebrity news, there was a point where everyday I would log onto Twitter to find someone new being “canceled.” People were being canceled so often that I would occasionally wake up and try to guess who might have been canceled since I had last logged on. 

Cancel culture refers to the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. 

Now trending: #CancelEllen

As a recent examples of cancel culture, we have Ellen DeGeneres. If you haven’t seen the news about Ellen, you might want to make sure that your WiFi is working properly. Ellen’s name has been dragged through the mud 100 times over. While it has not been any kind of secret, people are canceling Ellen for the treatment of her team members and crew on the show. 

Back in March, Kevin Porter tweeted asking people to send through their most insane stories about Ellen as she is always trying to “spread kindness.”

While some of the responses have to be taken with a grain of salt, other responses gave us a whole new light of what happens behind the scenes of her show. 

You also might be wondering how other celebrities have reacted to this news. As we know, Ellen hosts some of the most popular stars all of the time on her show. Is she treating them just as poorly? Apparently not. Big stars have been quick to come to Ellen’s defense, saying they have received nothing but kindness and great experiences as a guest on the show. 

Katy Perry was one of many celebrities to shed a positive light on Ellen, tweeting:

This celebrity support for Ellen has only made people angrier about the situation. These stars are missing the point that obviously they are going to be treated well, but that top-notch treatment comes at the cost of demeaning lower-ranking employees along the way.

Ellen wants to have a good reputation with these celebrities, and she wants them to have the desire to come back on the show, so why wouldn’t she treat them well? All in all, this isn’t about the stars and the way Ellen has treated them, it’s about her staff that has been treated poorly for years and have been too afraid to speak up.

Ellen has now filmed an apology video and sent a letter to her entire staff. Variety magazine quoted Ellen’s apology letter stating: “On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness — no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect. Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case.”

Ellen is still fighting to get her career and fans back, but people are ready to give their input as to who is fit to replace her on the daytime television show.

Yet another YouTube star bites the dust

Not only have people been tearing Ellen apart, but they have also been coming for YouTube stars, particularly with regard to the Black Lives Matter movement. YouTuber Shane Dawson is someone that has been a part of countless wrong doings, but has never faced the repercussions of his actions. 

Recently, people who used to be fans rediscovered an old video from 2011 of Dawson doing black face while imitating Nicki Minaj. Since the resurfacing of this video, #ShaneDawsonIsOverParty has been trending on Twitter. Not only has Shane Dawson been canceled for his actions, the YouTuber has fully lost monetization of his channel.

Behold: Shane Dawson’s second apology video in five years.

Dawson has now had to film an apology video twice for his behavior, once in 2015 and again in 2020, but people have not forgiven him for what he has done.

The open letter heard ’round the world

After watching countless celebrities face backlash similar to the criticism raised against her tweets, J.K. Rowling developed an open letter with Harper’s Magazine. In this letter, she talks about how the need to be politically correct has stifled the chance for debate and does not allow people to have opposing opinions. 

This letter has received mixed reviews to say the least. Some celebrities publicly stated that they do not agree with the letter and that when asked to sign it, they declined. Richard Kim, the Enterprise Director of HuffPost, described the letter as funny and “trolling the people it was allegedly trying to reach.”

Richard Thompson Ford, Stanford Law professor and a signer of the letter, was quoted saying, “I’ve witnessed too many cases of ferocious takedowns for defensible if ideologically unorthodox views or relatively minor breaches of political etiquette” and that the letter is “important and necessary.”

Are they forgiven?

The toxic part of cancel culture is that people are not given the chance to grow from the mistakes they have made. While some actions and choices are deemed unforgivable, other times social media users are so quick to cancel that they do not give people the benefit of the doubt that they might have matured past the person they used to be. 

What do you think? Is cancel culture too toxic, or are people getting what they deserve for their actions?