Why ‘Cancel Culture’ Should be Cancelled


Alberto E. Rodriguez

attends CinemaCon 2016 as Universal Pictures Invites You to an Exclusive Product Presentation Highlighting its Summer of 2016 and Beyond at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners, on April 13, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Julia Steinberg

Cancel culture in today’s society is harmful and places blame on others without providing the opportunity for them to change. It tells people “you’re wrong for your mistake but I won’t let you change”.

In an increasingly progressive twenty first century society, we have become more aware of social justice issues. One could suggest that this is majorly due to the availability of social media to the masses, allowing people to bring attention to matters previously swept under the rug. Members of the lgbtq+ community have been able to use platforms such as Twitter to work towards achieving rights. The feminist movement has also utilized social media to bring up problems of gender inequality. And, in the late part of 2017, the hashtag #metoo allowed victims of sexual assault and abuse to share their stories and to call attention to the abuse so often swept under the rug.

On the internet, especially on Twitter, those well-versed in social justice issues have dubbed themselves “woke”, as in aware of issues going on in the world. The “woke” community is generally good, and as a member of the queer community and as someone who knows far too many people that have experienced sexual assault, especially at a young age, I’m very grateful for it. But there has been a term being carelessly thrown around in the past year or so that, paradoxically, I believe has done more harm than good: “cancelled”.

What does it mean for someone to be cancelled? Let’s look at a recent example: Kevin Hart. The comedian took to Instagram on December fourth to announce that he was chosen to host the Oscars award show. The next day, Benjamin Lee, an editor for the Guardian, took to Twitter to post screenshots of homophobic tweets posted by Hart. One particularly troubling tweet read “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay’”. The tweet in question was posted in 2011. Woke Twitter then decided that Hart was cancelled, rescinding support for the comedian. One thing lead to another, and Hart announced on the sixth that he was stepping down from hosting the Oscars, which he called “an opportunity of a lifetime” when he first announced it just days earlier.

Before I go any further, I’d like to make myself clear that I’m referring to cancel culture on the basis of things like tweets and opinions, rather than illegal actions. For example, an actor losing their show because of rape allegations or a YouTuber losing their following because of filming the body of someone who committed suicide and posting it on their channel are actions that are inexcusable and should be dealt with to the full extent of the law.

Back to the example. Hart originally stated in an Instagram video that the Academy gave him an ultimatum to apologize for the resurfaced tweets or to step down from his role. “The reason why I passed [on the apology] is because I’ve addressed this several times.” He continued, “I’ve said who I am now versus who I was then.” Along with his statement that he would not be hosting the Oscars, Hart tweeted in part, “I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past.” However, woke Twitter viewed Hart’s apology to be a result of the backlash of his original statement that he wouldn’t apologize for his tweets, and rejected the apology as not being good enough. Kevin Hart was still cancelled.

I see where Woke Twitter is coming from. Insinuating that playing with a dollhouse, a traditionally feminine toy, is gay is just plain ignorant. Furthermore, reading that Hart would abuse his son for doing something he deemed gay made chills run down my spine the first time I read it. However, I believe that Woke Twitter’s flippant habit of slapping the two syllable, nine letter word of cancelled onto politically incorrect statements takes away the crucial opportunity for the group to inform and teach, directly contradicting its movement.

Going forward, it’s important to allow for people to change. As human beings, we are constantly shaping our ideas of what is wrong and right, and sometimes we might not understand why our actions are wrong or see things from others’ points of view. This is where Woke Twitter needs to provide guidance on why comments such as Hart’s are harmful but also to pave the way for people to correct their mistakes. I now call upon Woke Twitter to change their sights from cancel culture to education culture and to allow people to change for the better.