Three years ago, James Charles was a makeup-loving teen from New York who lived with his family and made YouTube videos for fun. A few years later, Charles got his first taste of fame when he began signing brand deals while hitting over 10 million followers on YouTube and Instagram.
Winning a People’s Choice Award for Beauty Influencer of the Year in 2018, Charles evidently found success as a celebrity. However, a quick turn of events drastically changed his life.
Tati Westbrook, another YouTube beauty creator and former friend of Charles, labeled him as “cancelled” in a video, explaining she no longer wanted to associate herself with Charles because he betrayed her trust by signing on to a brand deal with one of her competitors, as well as voicing allegations of Charles’ sexual misconduct. This ultimately led to a significant decline in supporters for Charles as well as hateful comments towards him on social media platforms.
What happened to Charles is an example of cancel culture, a growing trend that began on social media where consumers boycott an individual after deeming their actions questionable, problematic or offensive. This fad is detrimental as it leaves no room for open conversations and explanations.
Westbrook and Charles ultimately resolved the conflict after a couple of YouTube video posts, which ended with Westbrook expressing her regret on Twitter for having publicly conveyed her frustration, saying she would communicate any conflicts in private in the future. We should mirror Westbrook’s realization and cancel cancel culture.
Cancel culture may seem distant for the average person, but it’s much closer to home than we realize. Even in our own community, we claim to be tolerant of mostly everyone, but our actions do not reflect this. One example of this is the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election—there were multiple instances of students at Paly being harassed over their views because they were different than others’.
Regardless of if you agree or disagree with someone’s political beliefs, it is incredibly important to be tolerant and open to hearing out the other side.
At the Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 29, former president Barack Obama urged his audience to take a step back and evaluate people as a whole, instead of defining them through specific incidents.
“This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff,” Obama said. “You should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities. People who do really good stuff have flaws.”
The rise of call-out culture and cancel culture has given people the stepping stones towards putting people down and “cancelling” people for minor flaws. Society needs to instead recognize that people are imperfect but have the capability to learn.
The sense of aggression linked with political beliefs is evident on many politicians or political candidates’ social media posts. Politicians’ comment sections are typically flooded with angry interactions between supporters and detractors, who are seldom willing to hear out the other side and tend to rely on ad hominem arguments instead of focusing on a person’s beliefs
While some people would agree it is important to call out injustices and stand up for one’s beliefs, cancel culture is not the most appropriate way to go about communicating these feelings. This method enforces the idea that individuals should be immediately punished for their actions, disregarding any offers of apology.
Most people want to progress and grow but need to be provided with the opportunity to do so. Cancel culture blocks off any chance for individuals to redeem themselves before people make a decision to block or unfollow someone.
This generation will be facing many problems worldwide. Solutions require optimism, collaboration and plenty of communication, which will be impossible if this culture continues to grow.