Thanks to several social media platforms gaining popularity in the last decade, celebrities have a greater opportunity to expand their fame and wealth than ever before. Simultaneously, social media has lessened the distance between the world of celebrities and the world of the public, allowing people to feel closer and even interact with their idols.
While social media has created many positive changes for celebrities, it also has its consequences, especially if they aren’t careful with what gets posted online.
“Cancel culture” has been trending on Twitter and has become increasingly popular among fans and haters of many celebrities. This culture is the practice of exposing and ceasing support for stars for previous posts and comments that are offensive in some way, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
Though the initial intent of “cancel culture” is clear, it has evolved into another medium for the idolization of celebrities. Looking through common hashtags and the names of stars trending on Twitter, it is evident that people enjoy trash-talking and promoting hatred through their phones much more than simply offering information on celebrities’ posts and acting accordingly.
While several celebrities have had their old tweets exposed, bringing about the hashtags #(celebrity’s name)isOverParty and #(celebrity’s name)isCanceled, not many face long-term backlash or loss of fame for the things they’ve said. It has unfortunately evolved into a game of “Who Can Get Canceled” rather than encouraging real change and growth in society.
Celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Jeffree Star and Kevin Hart are just a few examples of those who have fallen victim to this Twitter trend.
In July, Chrissy Teigen sparked news after blocking 1 million Twitter accounts and deleting over 60,000 tweets, several of which were exposed for being pedophilic.
One tweet stated, “seeing little girls do the splits half naked is just...I want to put myself in jail. #toddlersandtiaras.” In another instance, Teigen tweeted, “I just saw a baby that looked like a porn star. Like a trashy do-anything porn star. Is this wrong to think?”
Despite these frankly disturbing comments posted from 2009-2012, Teigen has ultimately maintained her fame, and the media has placed its focus elsewhere. The cycle of canceling celebrities is quick and constant, as one falls from their icon status to the next. Yet, it never seems to stick.
Celebrities rarely experience any backlash for the things they have said and done in the past, and the main source of proof for their “canceling” is reused hashtags and nasty comments.
Similar to Teigen, makeup mogul Jeffree Star received major hate on Twitter in 2019 after several of his old tweets resurfaced. Star, a member of the LGBTQ community, made several tweets in 2009 and 2010 in which he praised himself for having sexual relations with heterosexual men.
Some of Star’s tweets include, “I’ve had so many straight boys naked that I think I deserve a life time achievement award,” and “Straight guy #2365 down hahahah *faints*.” Twitter users lashed out against Star for his predatory comments.
Star has gained 3 million YouTube subscribers and continues to run a successful makeup brand, emphasizing the ineffectiveness of the “cancel culture” trend across social media. Circumstances like his and Teigen’s prove that even the most graphic exposures of celebrities’ past online posts are not enough to make real change in the world of “cancel culture.”
“Cancel culture” seeks to expose every drop of drama or controversy from celebrities’ old posts, no matter how misinterpreted they might be or how young the star was when he, she or they made them. There are often comments by celebrities brought to light that were slightly inappropriate or made when they were teenagers. In these circumstances, it is understandable for stars not to receive major damages to their reputation aside from comments on social media.
Fortunately, though infrequent, there are instances where celebrities are punished for previous tweets deemed offensive.
In 2018, Kevin Hart was confronted on Twitter over posts in which he used derogatory homophobic language toward multiple people. After these tweets resurfaced, Hart posted a video on Instagram and said, “If you don’t believe that people change, grow, evolve as they get older, I don’t know what to tell you.”
Shortly after, Hart went back on Twitter to announce he was no longer hosting the 2019 Oscars as planned, and apologized to the LGBTQ community for his comments.
While the occasional celebrity does experience blows to their career after being exposed online, many of them, like Hart, are off the hook once they upload their apologetic tweets or posts on Instagram. Instances such as these prove that “cancel culture” is not aimed towards changing a celebrity’s mindset but simply finding dirt on that person until better drama comes to light.
From a distant perspective, this culture appears to be a movement dedicated to uncovering toxic celebrities in an effort to educate their fans and encourage them to consider unfollowing, unsubscribing etc. Unfortunately, however, “cancel culture” has in itself become the main source of toxicity on social media.
Instead of typing out Twitter manifestos on a new celebrity each week, a more effective way of “canceling” stars for their actions and comments is simply unfollowing and unsubscribing from their accounts and/or ceasing to buy from their brands.
It’s important to recognize that people mature and learn from their mistakes every day, even celebrities. Bashing them behind a screen is a pointless use of time.