By: Sara Macholz
Cancel culture has quickly become a daily occurrence with the abundance of media that is produced and consumed every day.
What is cancel culture? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, cancel culture is defined as the “practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure”.
A recent example of a media personality being canceled includes Chris Harrison, the longtime host of The Bachelor. During the most recent season of The Bachelor, Matt James was featured as the franchise’s first Black Bachelor. This was an obvious step forward as a response to backlash surrounding the lack of diversity represented in the show.
The Bachelor franchise took one step forward and two steps back when host Chris Harrison publicly defended the racially insensitive actions of the season’s front runner Rachel Kirkconnell. During the season there were pictures leaked of Rachel Kirkconnell attending a Southern antebellum plantation party, and dressing up in culturally appropriated costumes. After the interview aired where Chris Harrisson defends her actions, I didn’t take long for him and the show as a whole to be “canceled” across social media.
As seen in the video, the backlash regarding Kirkconnell’s actions and Harrison’s interview made it so they have to take accountability their wrongful words and actions. In this specific situation there is a lot of education that can be done to better understand the damage that they caused.
The great thing about cancel culture or call-out culture is that at its core it holds people accountable for their words and actions, especially when they are harmful to other groups or individuals. Yet there are many instances where it goes too far.
People become bold behind their screens, willing to say horrible things to people. This happens more often than not when people get “canceled” online. What could be used as a moment of education and consequence, turns into a violent backlash often including death threats.
The different types of people who participate in canceling others online are often grouped together even though intentions and execution are very different. The intention of calling a person out to better themselves is much different than telling them to harm themselves.
This is what fuels the heated debate over cancel culture. Is it a tool for holding people accountable or does it foster a toxic online environment fueled by mob mentality? Cancel culture has become a new normal in our online world. We most likely will continue to see the good, bad and the ugly as a result.