Can we cancel ‘cancel culture?’

By Angelina Halas
February 4, 2022

Students Jennifer Alcalde and Ayesha Ahmad doing snow day work for their canceled classes on Jan. 27. (Mackenzie Harris/Editor in Chief)
Students Jennifer Alcalde and Ayesha Ahmad doing snow day work for their canceled classes on Jan. 27. (Mackenzie Harris/Editor in Chief)

Olivia Jade. Kevin Hart. Logan Paul. Rachael Kirkconnell.

What do they all have in common? They’ve all been canceled at one point during their career.

But what’s different between them? Some have been welcomed back into the spotlight and are flourishing, while others continue to be ridiculed for past mistakes.

There are many ways that we could look at and define cancel culture, but Vox offers the definition that being canceled means being “culturally blocked from having a prominent public platform or career.” Many celebrities are canceled through social media and face the most backlash on those sites.

The New York Post defines cancel culture as “the phenomenon of promoting the ‘canceling’ of people, brands and even shows and movies due to what some consider to be offensive or problematic remarks or ideologies.” Image created on Canva by Angelina Halas.

My problem with cancel culture is that it doesn’t seem to make sense. How do we pick and choose who gets to come back into society? How do we know one apology is meant more than another, especially if the apology is just text on a screen? Does it show what we value more?

Olivia Jade is probably a name that many college students are familiar with. She is the daughter of actress Lori Loughlin and was famously involved in the college admissions scandal of 2019, where it was discovered that Jade’s parents were involved in bribery and forging documents to get both of their daughters into college.

While Jade’s parents were facing jail time, Jade herself lost some friends, some of her following and her brand relationships, which was her career. While she has come back to social media, began making her usual YouTube videos once again and has received some different brand deals,  she constantly faces hate and continuous backlash in the comments of everything she posts.

Examples of comments that Olivia Jade receives on her Tik Tok account. Screenshot taken by Angelina Halas from Olivia Jade’s Tik Tok.

While I can understand the outrage that many people have over what happened, is it really fair if we blame an 18-year-old girl [at the time of the scandal] over what actually happened? How many of us had made major mistakes at that age? Yes, she’s old enough to know the difference between right and wrong, but on her Red Table Talk, she opens up about not knowing the full extent of what her parents were doing but also apologizes for what she was a part of. Yet, she still gets hate. Why isn’t she allowed to have a second chance?

I know people who have barely done an ounce of work on their own as college students. Just because they don’t have a huge following, why are they not held accountable? Why should they be in college?

Kevin Hart was supposed to host the Oscars in 2019 but was met with backlash after the announcement due to the fact he had posted homophobic tweets between 2010-2011. He ultimately stepped down from hosting the ceremony.

Hart originally did not post an apology since he claimed that he had spoken on the issue previously and noted that he had acknowledged what was right and what was wrong. However, the next day he tweeted his apology and said that he is evolving.

Hart had a successful career as a comedian and actor before these tweets resurfaced and continues to have success after the fact. The issues haven’t been talked about since 2019 publicly.

A lot of people held Hart accountable for his tweets made in 2010-2011 and yet, he still has a successful career. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have a successful career because I believe he should, and it’s smart for us to move on from the past and allow people to grow from their mistakes. But why do people accept his apology moreover than Olivia Jade’s? Why was he so quickly signed on to other movies if these scandals can be so destructive?

There are other people out there that are constantly homophobic and don’t get punished for it. Why?

Another celebrity that has been canceled, yet welcomed back, is Logan Paul. Paul came across a dead body in a forest while in Japan, recorded it, made jokes and uploaded the video. Paul posted an apology and took down the video, saying he never should have posted it. However, many people believed Paul knew exactly what he was doing and his apology wasn’t real.

Logan Paul’s most recent boxing match was against Floyd Mayweather. Screenshot taken from @loganpaul Instagram by Angelina Halas.

While Paul did lose followers over the incident, he continued to be cast in television and movie appearances, along with recently starting to box. Again, while I believe everyone deserves a second chance and we all make mistakes, what makes it okay for Logan Paul not to receive as much hate as someone like Olivia Jade? So, as a society, we’re okay with someone mocking suicide and not okay with someone’s parents bribing colleges to get their children into college? At what level can we compare these two things and put one over the other?

A previous contestant on The Bachelor, who is now dating Bachelor alum, Matt James, Rachael Kirkconnell was under fire for a long time during her season. In 2018, while she was in college, she attended a plantation-themed fraternity party. She did publicly apologize for the photos that resurfaced, for attending the event and for being blind to how that must have made other people feel. She has openly discussed her apology and how she has worked on herself and constantly receives supportive comments.

Again, how do we value one apology over another? How can we tell if one is more genuine? How is it fair for certain people not to get berated for their past mistakes and be able to move on, while others will face backlash every day?

These are just examples of a few celebrities who have been canceled and the effect (or lack thereof) it has had on their career. I don’t understand why we aren’t willing to forgive some of these canceled celebrities. We all make mistakes. Our friends and our families make mistakes and we forgive them. We forgive ourselves when we mess up.

Just because celebrities have a higher following and a larger audience, does that mean they aren’t allowed to make mistakes? Celebrities are human just like the rest of us, and we don’t seem to treat them all as human beings.

Angelina Halas

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