CANCEL CULTURE IS #CANCELED

Kaia Wirth, Editor-in-chief

Entertainment has been a staple of society for eons. As a member of the first generation to be completely raised on the internet, my experiences have led me to understand the elements of online culture that have the potential to cause more conflict in a society that is already so divided. Social media has created a platform for creativity, but it’s also able to spread misinformation and hate speech towards others. Magazines and tabloids, a more dated version of entertainment, have existed for this purpose much longer than social media, and talk shows air disgusting displays of sexism and other forms of uncivil conversation. While modern society has produced incredible inventions, the progress of entertainment available to the public has made the human race more hostile and disrespectful to one another, which in itself could bring about the ruin of society. 

TikTok, a format of social media that has quickly risen to great popularity in recent times, reaches a wide variety of generations and was the second most downloaded app of 2019. But with the age of TikTok has come the age of “cancel culture,” a term used to describe a mass exposé on a person, typically a celebrity or someone of a great personage. Being as how TikTok has so many users, the vast majority have been raised on the internet and thus understand how to spread messages swiftly and effectively. #cancel(insert name here) gained a large following, increasing the exposure on the private lives of the teenage “stars” of TikTok. Because of such large coverage that drama has received, it’s led me to assume that society is more interested in disclosing the matters of celebrities (which can sometimes be helpful if it’s in regards to sexual assault, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, e.t.c.) rather than focusing on issues that could use more exposure, such as Muslims being held in concentration camps in China, global warming, or other international and civic affairs that could have as much influence as possible. Essentially, there is a rhetoric that cancel culture and social media platforms use to gain a larger audience, and like cattle, members of society gather in the masses to enjoy what seems like entertainment when in reality it would be more appropriate to be labeled as a form of advertisement for uncivilized discussion.
Before TikTok were tabloid magazines. Even now, they line the isles of grocery stores, the local CVS and Walgreens, and the street sides of cities, fundamentally they’re everywhere and don’t appear to be disappearing anytime soon. Tabloids have always fanned the flames of controversy, taking advantage of passerby with eye-catching titles like “DID (INSERT NAME) CHEAT ON (INSERT NAME)?” and “SECRET SEX LIFE OF (INSERT NAME) EXPOSED!” Tabloids, at their core, exist only to gratify the very worst parts of society, the parts that stem from jealousy, insecurity, and the need to gossip. They were the “cancel culture” of the 20th century. They market on the private lives of celebrities, exposing every out-of-context image and blowing it into a scandal. It’s disgusting to know there are people making a profit off the suffering and humiliation of public figures of society. Sure, celebrities may be implicit when it comes to their fame, but that shouldn’t leave them open to abuse from tabloids. NO ONE should be subject to the kind of criticism that celebrities endure on a daily basis. Quite frankly, the argument against tabloids is one of civil rights-the right to privacy and confidentiality. Entertainment such as this (if you can even call it that) feeds into the lowest aspects of society and enlarges them, which in itself would reduce a civilized society to a horde of fiendish vultures, picking apart celebrities limb by limb.

Tabloids and TikTok are both forms of entertainment that achieve an audience by utilizing the protection of considerable distance from those being criticized. Talk shows are different, primarily because there’s a humanizing component to them, being face-to-face with someone strips away the protection of a screen or page that social media and tabloids take advantage of. This would imply that the gross denunciation and treatment of celebrities might be reduced, however, this has been proven to not be the case. There are a myriad of examples of women experiencing explicit displays of sexism on television, all of which is eaten up by society-falling under the pretense that this is entertainment, it’s not real. Yet, this isn’t the case. It’s very real to whoever is being interviewed, and because some large talk shows and news organizations draw in large audiences, it means that there is an inherently larger population of people watching women get dragged live. If it isn’t already clear, this encourages the cruel treatment of notable members of society, just because they’re celebrities and supposedly “signed up for the price of fame.” 

In reality, tabloids, social media, and television shows who “expose” human beings are just methods with which to hurt other members of society. When was it in human nature to want to hurt others with words? When was it more trendy to read a takedown piece on a Bachelorette or Bachelor rather than to care about humanitarian issues? There are still aspects of society that have improved, such as that activism has been able to reach a larger audience, but there needs to be more focus on the individual elements that plague society rather than individuals themselves. If not, society may be doomed for a world of universal hurt and incivility.