The end of 2020 brought us many interesting TikTok trends: No Nuance November, fancam edits of election analysts, and the canceling of TikTok star Charlie D’amelio and her sister Dixie. Canceling, a way to de-platform famous individuals through mass boycotts, began as a way to hold predators such as Harvey Weinstein accountable and remove all public support for racist and otherwise discriminatory public figures. However, what has emerged from this movement is “cancel culture,” a toxic environment that allows for relentless bullying of online personalities such as the D’amelio sisters for filming themselves not eating snails and mentioning their follower counts as nothing more than numbers. Yet their fellow influencer Tony Lopez remains largely untouched by sexual misconduct allegations (he still has 22.8 million TikTok followers).
While users may feign offense at a nineteen-year-old girl refusing food made by a private chef in the middle of a pandemic and economic recession, cancel culture has simply become a new way for the masses to ridicule and bully teen girls and other previously scrutinized individuals. Clairo, a twenty-two-year-old indie singer, was canceled for being mean to fans, while household name Jimmy Fallon still has his late-night talk show even after it was discovered he did blackface. While there are certainly conversations to be had around cancel culture as a premise, and whether or not it allows individuals to grow after making a mistake, or have made mistakes in decades past, as of now, it has transformed from a way to weed out the most horrific individuals and remove them from power, to a way to cyberbully those who exhibit less than perfect behavior.
The truth of the matter is that when given the opportunity, people are much more likely to point out the personal faults of women than of men. Clairo was dismissive of her fans, Charlie and Dixie didn’t act graciously enough, yet it is incredibly rare that men are cancelled for being rude or arrogant. It is sometimes noted but it doesn’t seem to drastically alter the public’s approval of them. For instance when googling “Ellen DeGeneres rude” several articles appear from newspapers such as The Independent and The New York Times but when googling “James Corden rude” it is all tabloid stories indicating a mere short scandal. It is only when a woman is not kind, giving, and completely grateful to others for her success that it is newsworthy or that she needs to be “held accountable.”
Cancel culture is simply a new way to manipulate young women into behaving as society deems they should. It is cyberbullying under the guise of social activism and the public good. This gross misuse of mass mobilization prevents the de-platforming of harmful individuals and holds women to a higher standard of conduct than their male counterparts by instilling fear in them.