2020 was quite the year for cancel culture


Beck Iannucci

Cancel culture has been quite interesting this year. I usually try to stay away from these conflicts because of how aggressive the conversation gets. Though some of these people do need to be held accountable, it can be best to not argue with their fans on Twitter. 

I’m someone that occasionally keeps up with the drama, but it’s never really worth it. People will always support who they want to and it’s very difficult to change their minds. This is why terrible apologies work — because everyone wants to have the benefit of the doubt for their fave no matter what. A great example of this is the horrendous Shane Dawson apology earlier this year where he says he didn’t mean any of his previous apologies but means this one. Even though he admitted that he was pressured into all his apologies and they weren’t authentic, many still stay subbed. This may be because Shane’s conspiracy theory videos are infamous. I also suspect that many stay subbed for extra content from his friends. The irony of this being that many of Shane’s friends have stopped associating with him.

In contrast, this year I saw the most genuine apology I’ve seen on YouTube. This is the Jenna Marbles apology. She apologized not because she was pressured but because she felt genuine guilt. While I recognize the apology wasn’t for me, it’s important to recognize the fact that she held herself accountable. In the world of YouTube apologizes it’s hard to find that. Usually someone tries to hide their wrongdoing and only speak up after pressure or a sub drop. 

I’ve been comparing these incidents to last year’s James Charles controversy and I honestly don’t see anyone getting as badly canceled this year. If you are unfamiliar, James is a young beauty guru who was accused of sexual harassment. The man then told his side of the story, putting down the claim of harassment and saying he had consented. Still, this continued to follow James and he received (and still is receiving) mass amounts of hate. I feel like nothing can compare to what James has gone through, but there is a clear distinction between all of these. I want to point out that the friend who accused James, Tati Westbrook, then gave an apology this year stating it wasn’t true. Here you have someone’s career being affectively ruined for no reason and then you have people like Shane who made racist content for a long time and didn’t receive a lot of backlash. Sure, brands stopped working with him, but he still has millions of followers. Shane can apologize as many times as he wants because his fans couldn’t care less. 

These people getting “canceled” was fueled by the pandemic. Having spent a lot of time in quarantine myself, I can attest to falling into boredom. Many were using this free time to scroll through old tweets, bringing forgotten statements to life. In Jenna’s case, I think the guilt became more powerful because she was in quarantine with her boyfriend. Not being able to see many people starts to get lonely. The reason mental health is declining for so many people is not being around others and having excess time to overthink every mistake you’ve ever made.

 A singer named Conan Gray  came under fire for this exact reason. Some were defending him due to his age, saying he should not be under fire for things he Tweeted as a high schooler. Though it’s acknowledged that teens make dumb mistakes, he was old enough to understand the weight of his words. The problem with making unfunny, offensive, jokes about queer and poc people is that it’s difficult to prove you’ve changed. He can tell us he has, but that doesn’t mean it’s true.

Another reason this year’s cancel culture has been heightened is the BLM movement. As creators mock the movement, fans start to drift away. This happened with Tyler Joseph, the singer of Twenty One Pilots. He put on platform shoes and posted the picture with the caption: “You guys keep asking me to use my platforms”. Many felt that this joke was insensitive because the movement is surrounded by so many deaths. Fans that have looked to him for guidance were distraught.

If you are unfamiliar with the band, Twenty One Pilots is a band surrounded by mental health. The two men take on subjects like suicide by encouraging their suicidal fans to keep fighting, while writing the songs to make them feel heard. It’s not “stop feeling this way and get over it” type of songs. It’s “I understand your pain, but I know you can keep fighting. Things will get better.”

So you have a band that is with fans in their darkest hour that doesn’t support a movement surrounded by stopping the pain and suffering of innocent people. Though he deleted the tweet and posted a BLM one, the damage was already done.