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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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February 26, 2024

Let’s Talk About It: Internet Cancel Culture

The University of Massachusetts Boston’s University Health Services is putting on a series of small discussions every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. during the spring semester. These talks broach subjects in hopes to destigmatize certain topics. The topic for the week of February 20 discussed the topic of Internet Cancel Culture. Cancel Culture “describes a form of boycott in which someone (usually a celebrity) who has shared a questionable or unpopular opinion, or has had behavior in their past that is perceived to be either offensive or problematic called out on social media” (Wikipedia).

The discussion began with everyone in the room giving general introductions of themselves: name, preferred pronouns and what their major is, before diving into the topic. Students sat around a conference table in one of the Campus Center’s conference rooms and started off the open discussion with the question, “What is cancel culture?” Various students around the table shared what they knew and what they didn’t know about cancel culture. One student mentioned famous beauty YouTuber, James Charles, while another student mentioned cancel culture was the opposite of “stan.” Stan is defined as “an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity” (Oxford Dictionary). Some students described cancel culture as when a celebrity does something bad, either recently or in their past, and their career is canceled, or ruined. The leaders of the discussion then turned the topic to how cancel culture affects people culturally.

Students had varying answers to the question of how it affects people, with some students expressing that it holds celebrities accountable, while others expressed that it causes groupthink or marks a person’s actions as unforgivable. The general consensus of the room agreed that there was no definitive right or wrong answer to the question, which brought the discussion to a new set of questions: Should people who have been “canceled” be allowed to come back from it? Are there celebrities who have been “canceled” and have come back repeatedly? Many celebrities were brought into the discussion, such as Donald Trump, Justin Bieber, R. Kelly, and different YouTubers. 

At the mere mention of some of the names, the room full of students would collectively groan. Students discussed how some celebrities have been “canceled” and have come back from it as if nothing had happened while other celebrities have their entire careers ruined. The discussion went into depth of different celebrities and whether or not canceling them is right. Students mentioned various celebrities who are in positions of power and can use money to get away with crimes, and how they thought “canceling” could combat that. Much of the discussion time was spent using the example of famous singer, Chris Brown, and his actions with Rihanna when he was seventeen. The Chris Brown example during the discussion was used to look deeper into the “canceling” of Chris Brown and what warranted one celebrity to be “canceled” over another. By the end of the discussion, students had come to the collective agreement of why social media plays a major roles in how people get “canceled”, and that “cancel culture” had many gray areas with no fine line to separate who, what, how, and why somebody is “canceled.”

“Let’s Talk About It” discussions are held every Thursday at 3:30 p.m. on the first floor of the Campus Center in room 1110, for anyone interested in participating. Beacon Reward Points can be earned for attending. The following topics include:

2/27: Eating Disorders

3/5: Body Image

3/26: Masculinity

4/2: STIs

4/9: Bystander Intervention

4/16: Relationships in Media

4/23: Sex Trafficking

4/30: Misconceptions of Mental Health
 

About the Contributor
Genevieve Santilli, News Writer