What is Cancel Culture?

May 22, 2023
Catalina Kogan

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Class of 2025

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Imagine Harry Styles did something bad, but people didn't want to cancel him because of the love the have for him. However, you think this is a really serious situation and feel that you have to personally punish Harry because of his actions. You stop listening to his music, you unfollow him on Instagram, and you change your wallpaper of your phone. This is a form of cancel culture.

I’m a huge fan of Justin Bieber (even if that sounds cringy). A long time ago, he came to Argentina to give a concert, and when the concert started, he was drunk and he grabbed an Argentinian flag that a fan gave him and he started stepping on it. Because of this, my older brother Matu decided that he didn’t want to listen to Justin anymore. This is a form of cancel culture.

A couple of years ago, a gay couple was having dinner at a restaurant. They weren’t doing anything wrong, and the restaurant personnel decided to kick them out solely due to the fact that they were gay. Since that happened, I no longer go to eat there because I am still angry and ashamed that they did that. This is a form of cancel culture.

But, can just anyone cancel a person if we really don’t personally know the person and their culture? If we are going to judge someone for something they did, the least we can do is inform ourselves about that person and their culture, and then decide if it is worth it to cancel them.

Last November, a famous Manchester United football player, Edison Cavani, was congratulated by a friend and his response was “Gracias, Negrito.” People from Europe wanted to cancel him because he called his friend “Negrito” and they considered that as a racist act. What they didn't know was that Cavani is Uruguayan and that is a common practice there to call a person they care about “negrito” or “negro.” So, could they really cancel him? No, because they don’t know what type of culture he grew up in and the traditions associated with that culture. So, that is why I think that we have to inform ourselves about the culture of the person before canceling them.

There are many more instances of cancel culture: Jimmy Fallon, Ellen De Generes, Lana del Rey, Lea Michele, J.K Rowling, and more.

But why is this really a culture? This is a culture because as stated earlier, this mainly happens on social media, a place that became a huge part of society. On social media, this process has become normalized. This is why sometimes, we don’t recognize that we are 'canceling' a person.  

Is it bad to support a person who got canceled? No, everyone has the right to think differently; that is why cancel culture is more than just a huge movement; it is also a personal movement and each person has the right to decide what to do in each situation because every situation in cancel culture is different.

Sometimes, canceling a person is not the solution to a bad act because the person who got canceled didn’t change their behavior, so canceling them wasn’t really worth it. I think that instead of canceling a person, we should try to teach and talk to them about the “right thing to do,” not only to show the offending person that what they did was wrong, but also to educate more people about the topic, prevent more people from committing similar acts in the future, and make a difference in this world.

That’s why I think that us, Gen Z, can make that difference using technology. My idea is to create an Instagram page where every time we see a famous person getting canceled we can find ways to educate people about what that famous person did wrong so that people do not repeat these actions. This will also help to make social media a less toxic space!

My conclusion is that every time we want to do something, we have to think before doing it because we don’t know how that person is gonna react or what is going to happen to us. We also need to inform ourselves and think hard about what we are going to do, even if it’s not in a canceling situation. I believe that we can reevaluate our actions as a modern society and make the world a less toxic place where everyone can be themselves and people can live freely. Although I know that this seems like a utopia, let's try to stop for a moment and think.

I want to finish with a quote:  “Time is so limited that it is absurd to waste it living the life of someone other than you.” -Steve Jobs

Catalina Kogan is a BBG from Argentina and she's a perfectionist.

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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