There are two different opinions about cancel culture. One claims it is not really fair for any individual, because their actions are not judged for their actual value, but depending on their position in media, pop culture, and of course their fandoms. In turn, the other side expects society, especially social networks, to do away with those who are not “bearable” in the 21st century.

So, are people really cancelled? Does it depend on the individual or on their fandoms? It is understood that the correct answer to this is “no” and this article explains why nobody has ever been really cancelled in history. However, we may expose cancel culture’s concept first. According to the Urban Dictionary, the definition of cancel culture is “a modern internet phenomenon where a person is ejected from influence or fame by questionable actions. It is caused by a critical mass of people who are quick to judge and slow to question.”

This is a huge practice nowadays due to some well-known movements like #MeToo and the queers’ rights uprising in media. So far so good, but, what does Cancel Culture consist of? It begins with an accusation, for whatever reason (rape, bullying, abuse of power, racism, etc), independently of whether it can be proven or not. Its principal agents are manipulative and not very educated people —principally young-adults and teens— who feel the need to be part of something bigger than themselves, sheltering behind the idea of a greater and righteous cause.

To start with, cancellation comes with double standards. That is, it is not according to one’s fandom or net-worth, but instead, depending on social recognition and social importance. Namely, it is not the same if a Black man says something offensive about a Caucasian man than if a White woman says something repulsive about a Chinese man. Yet, overall, it depends on whether the person themselves counts on a greater stablished in time fan-base or being socially respected and admired, because all this means that person is forgiven. In case they do not, either they have any kind of motive because people may resent or hate that individual and become an outcast.

Some of the most famous cases are lead by Lana del Rey, for glamourising abuse. Demi Lovato, for having a finsta where she repeatedly trashed her former colleague Selena Gómez. Jeffree Star for his racist behaviour, sexual predator and YouTube bully accusations. Shane Dawson, for blackfacing in old sketches, for using the ‘n-word’ and sexualising children. Or Bella Thorne, for discrediting a very safe and wide-established platform for sex workers. Some of this people have been forgiven for their fandom’s loyalty and continuous cyber-intimidation, which forces people to not express their true ideas and disgust to some well-known individuals. For instance, Justin Bieber himself and his constant misogynistic and female marginalization comments sheltered by his own female fandom. In the end, it was their beauty, charisma or talent what defended them, not a sincere apology or new behaviour pattern.

In second place, shall be commented that some professionals have commented Cancel Culture before, for example, Victoria Diaz on The Science Survey exposed the idea that although Cancel Culture has potential, it is often misused. Cancel Culture has been defined as a clear method for finally cutting out genuinely abusive people in the media who have been getting away with it for a long time. After all, cancellation is not personal. As claimed by Shamira Ibrahim, a journalist who writes for Vice, “it’s a way for marginalised communities to publicly assert their value systems through pop culture.”

These reasons for the concept might be considered acceptable to begin with, but this practice just results in a major herd mentality and a collective fear of expressing diverse established ideas from the rest. So, the main idea is clear: nobody should believe what is posted online. You might believe somebody shares your values and ideas but they are just pretending to be like the majority. For instance, some racists and misogynistic people will simply hide their true feelings online or even try to present themselves as Feminists, pro Black Lives Matter or whatever equalitarian movement, etc. They may think they are protecting themselves from the ‘others’ resulting in their own radicalization.

In fact, mob mentality is something social media is abusing of. Unpopular opinions are constantly hidden because of fear of being shouted down. One fair example is Harry Potter’s author. She shared her opinion on Twitter about the definition of ‘sex’ and its recent inclusion to the feminist movement and all the internet cancelled her. It does not matter if you agree or not with her. Everybody should have the opportunity to express themselves and have an educated conversation. And then, understand each other from the different points shared and learn.

As Midlam and Montgomery commented: “If we lose the ability to openly discuss ethics and morality, we will lose the opportunity to learn from the other side, develop nuanced arguments and ultimately turn into two big echo chambers.” As a matter of fact, these days, somehow, in democratic countries freedom of speech seems to have become a somewhat delicate concept. Not everything can be considered freedom of expression. Nobody can insult women, no one can degrade any religion, nor sexual orientation nor gender. This is not about ‘rights’ it is about morals and decency. It does not matter if online, in live or in person. This does not mean that free speech must be banned, thus it should be controlled.

Nevertheless, if Cancel Culture is so hazardous, why is it so recurrent? Firstly, it increases your status and reduces your enemies’. Many researchers agree that for the public it is more important their sense of well-being and social connections than their own socioeconomical situation. Specially for rich people, who live with other affluent people, they do seek to maintain themselves in that level. Meanwhile those who aspire to be like them find in Cancel Culture a rapid growth of popularity; there is fewer effective strategies to elevate oneself than broadcasting the others’ failings.

Secondly, Cancel Culture is a channel for meeting new people and create bonds against others, and this becomes a new comfort zone for many antisocials. These new connections increase to great communities who change their goal really fast: they may be focused on cancelling an actor for a comment he made and some days later they are only centred on climate change. Nevertheless, thirdly, this process of linking connections has its dark side, because also lets its own community members to discover potential ‘disloyalty.’ And these subjects become enemies at the end of their former safe space. For example, if there is a discussion for and against cancelling somebody then the minority will be rejected from the group.

In third place and bringing up the rear, as the opinion blogger Amanda Marcotte claims the real trouble humanity faces is the lack of actual justice: “If we had a justice culture, would we even need to worry about cancel culture?” We might not, really. People, especially young adults, ought to understand that this kind of cyberbullying is not the solution to everything. In fact, it only advocates for a culture that believes in censoring things you do not like and turning the act of marginalising in something well seen. Because, wicked people are not the only victims of this system; you could say something today considered socially acceptable and then may be cancelled in a near future for being considered immoral. In fact, more people who simply have a difference of opinion are more cancelled than people who deserve it for being ‘bad.’

As Alison M. Joubert explains, “fandoms represent community and comfort” so the major part of the fan-base sometimes has not really an opinion established or previously thought about it, consequently, fandoms force Cancel Culture on individuals. They are just sheltering their favourite person because these are “spaces of invisible emotional attachments: private ‘friendships’ with real or imagined characters.” The fact that their centre is cancelled threats their safe space and unique connections, even though they may not be real because they are imaginary with that famous subject. Because the principal weakness of the Cancel Culture method is that even though you are “holding people accountable for their actions” its goal “is lost when being cancelled means there is no opportunity for change nor space for growth.”

Besides, it is surprising how society do not realize how dangerous Cancel Culture actually is, in the sense that this “practice is becoming more like activism as entertainment: where people join in because they find it fun, rather than because they believe it to be a worthy cause.” So, it means not everybody believes what they are backing up, so they may just be eliminating somebody publicly because of boredom or for fear to exclusion even though they may think just like you. Hence, they are faking their justice-seeking argument. Not as radical as out casting, something as ‘context culture’ would begin a new future where people would be free of expressing themselves with the opportunity to grow. Besides would let the fandoms to know their actual idols, not just its public identity, and help them to be better, not just defending them no matter what: “a context culture reduces the likelihood of mob mentality, and ensures criticism can be constructive.”

To summarise the above, even though it seems Cancel Culture has been incredibly effective at combating usual social issues just as sexism, racism or abusive behaviour, as professionals have explained before, it is still not well developed being, therefore, not real. Even though Cancel Culture may be presented as a way of collectively not accepting problematic people on a public scale, this just promotes cyberbullying and marginalization in teens and not socially accepted people which might result on a way more difficult scenario. It is better to adopt instead a ‘context culture’ and let everybody speak their mind and help them to understand their mistakes. This is a healthy and actual way to change the world and not force people to feel rejected. And so, help them to not hide their true opinions because then, they will end up radicalising themselves or worse. Examples of this are racism and machismo culture; both of them still really present these days.

Society becomes more and more impersonal as time goes on. Users comment on every post and image because they know their identity is ‘anonymous’ in some way. We have to achieve a society where we can all discuss our thoughts, morals, ethics and beliefs without the fear of being marginalised. Society and users should learn to apply free speech and Cancel culture responsibly, otherwise practices like this will stick and eventually become much more radical.


Cassidy, Amanda. “Cancel culture: 'Where do we draw the line between opposing views and a dangerous mob mentality?'” 08 August 2020.
Henderson, Rob. “5 Reasons Why People Love Cancel Culture. Research reveals why social mobs enjoy cancelling people.” Posted Dec 01, 2019.
Midlam, Brent and Montgomery, Richard. “Cancel culture promotes mob mentality”.
New York Post. Entertainment Section. “Bella Thorne apologizes for ‘hurting’ OnlyFans sex workers”. Cancel Culture: Fandoms can stay intact and grow beyond writers and artistes. Following JK Rowling’s recent anti-trans remarks, many fans are distancing themselves from the Harry Potter universe.
The Science Survey “You’re Cancelled! Cancel Culture as a Tool For Bullying and Harassment” on 2020 March 18.
Vice. In Defense of Cancel Culture by Shamira Ibrahim.
Whanganui Chronicle. “Comment: Why Cancel Culture should be cancelled in favour of context culture” 9 Jul, 2020.