What Is Cancel Culture: The Ultimate Guide To Cancel Culture

In the age of the internet, social media platforms are becoming more and more dominant for raising voices against any issue around the world. Anything that happens in one part of the world can be accessed and protested against on the other side of the world due to the power of social media.

Social media power has brought positive changes to the world, but it has also brought negativity and collective condemnation over someone as well. You might be wondering, what is cancel culture? Well, it is a collective way of dismissing someone’s views, opinions, and actions.

Although this cancel culture began with social media, it has now become prominent in the real world as well. So, you need to know everything about cancel culture.

Here is a complete guide to cancel culture:

How do you define cancel culture?

Cancel culture might have existed before the age of the internet. Experts believe that cancel culture was practiced in the form of Civil Rights Boycotts that were popular in America during the late 20th century.

Now, cancel culture is clearly defined and recognized by people all around the world. You have to be aware of this culture so that when someone asks you what is cancel culture? You can answer confidently.

Cancel culture is basically “canceling” someone from their presence on social media or anywhere else. This is usually targeted at celebrities and public figures. If they do something bad or a scandal is revealed about them, society “cancels” them to appear in entertainment. They lose sponsors, public image, and their reputation in the industry because of their own deeds.

Cancel culture is a public backlash, but the biggest power that motivates this culture is through social media platforms.

In simple words, it is a way of boycotting someone if the justice system does not fulfill the demand of the public or if they are powerful enough to influence the justice system so the public takes it upon their hands to boycott them.

How did cancel culture begin?

Cancel culture began during the uprise of the #metoo movement where victims used the power of social media to expose big public figures and celebrities that were out of their reach by calling them out for their misconduct behavior.

Another origin of the “canceling” someone came from a misogynist joke in the movie New Jack City where the main protagonist says “Cancel that bitch. I’ll buy another one.” Another one was when Lil Wayne used “cancel” in his lyrics of a song.

The cancel culture mainly began with Twitter with hashtags like #cancelLeo that trended worldwide and brought the attention of users to condemn collectively over social media. With time, it became popular on Black Twitter and now almost everyone is aware of what is cancel culture and how they can use it in their favor.

Some people call it mob mentality, while some people call it public power to fight against unfairness.

Why cancel culture is toxic?

Cancel culture is considered toxic because it ruins people’s lives. Some people are unfairly accused and have to suffer from public backlash for the crime they did not commit. There are people who go to extremes for canceling a public figure just to satisfy themselves and their ego.

Although cancel culture has been considerably favorable to the victims who once had no voice to fight against powerful people. There are users who use this mentality to negatively accuse someone and turn the public against them.

Cancel culture is toxic because it does not fact check instead they believe what is convincing for people and start canceling the person right away. This is why the mob mentality has been increasing on social media platforms day by day.

Cancel culture on celebrities

There are many people and brands who came under fire in cancel culture. Some were wrongly canceled and some were rightly canceled for their actions.

Jeffree Star

YouTube and internet influencers are most likely to get canceled for their actions. Jeffree Star was one of those. They were accused of manipulation by Tati, a beauty influencer, who explained all the details in a YouTube video.


The news took over the internet like a storm and people started canceling the star for their actions. The influencer had to leave social media and not post any content for some time because of the backlash.

Shane Dawson

Shane Dawson is a YouTube who got canceled in such an extreme way that most of his videos were demonetized by YouTube.

There were some insensitive videos of him that spread on social media and ruined his popularity. He was canceled for making jokes about pedophilia and for wearing blackface. His problematic videos against the beauty influencer community also outraged the influencers as well as the viewers.

Now he has been completely canceled and no longer has a social media presence on any platform.

J.K. Rowling

  1. K. Rowling is the author of a famous book series called Harry Potter. She has a big presence on social media and fans from all over the world. She was canceled for her transphobic tweet that suffered a severe backlash from the Twitter community.

Many celebrities like Daniel Radcliff also spoke up against her for her transphobic views. Later, J. K. Rowling detailed her views on trans people which were widely discussed among her reader fans and celebrities.

Ellen Degeneres

Ellen Degeneres is one of the most popular American TV show hosts. Her show called “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or TheEllenShow is widely watched on a global scale due to its episodes on YouTube as well.

Ellen suffered from cancel culture when a new article was published that revealed her demeaning behavior and the misbehavior of the staff against crew members behind the scenes of the show. The show created a work culture that was really toxic for the staff members to work in.

Although the new article mainly talked about the aggressive behavior that came from producers and managers, Ellen was canceled for not condemning such behavior in her presence as the main host of the show.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake, a famous singer artist in America with global popularity was canceled for his misbehavior against Britney Spears in the early 2000s.

He was accused of backlashing his relationship with Britney by blaming her for the fall in a music video. People highly criticized him for his behavior. After the release of the Britney Spears documentary, Justin apologized on Twitter.

Furthermore, he was also accused of being racist and sexist against Janet Jackson. He also exposed her bare breast on national television which was not addressed instead considered a “wardrobe malfunction”. He apologized to Janet on the same Tweet as Britney for his rash actions and behavior.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is a world-famous actor superstar well-known for his hit movies. Johnny Depp has always been a popular actor for a long time, but his popularity peaked after he acted for the role of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Johnny Depp suffered from cancel culture as well. He was accused of being a wife-beater. There were many domestic scandals allegedly accused by his ex-wife that tainted his image badly. The public canceled him which ruined his scheduled shows and sponsors. He also lost his role in the movie Fantastic Beasts 3 because of his scandal.

He lost his libel case which cost him millions of losses. He has now been filing lawsuits against accusers. To be short, his public image is entirely tarnished.

Jenna Marbles

Jenna Marbles is an influencer on YouTube. She had been popular for her content for a long time.

Jenna Marbles got canceled for making fun of the Asians. She also wore blackface in a video that outraged her viewers. Her misogynistic views and commentary got her canceled as well. Although the video of her wearing blackface was in 2014, the video resurfaced in June 2020 on social media. People started canceling her which caused her to lose many views and subscribers overnight.

She eventually quit YouTube and social media platforms by announcing it in a video. She apologized and also added that she would educate herself about the offensive actions she did in the past and contemplate.

List of things canceled by cancel culture

Cancel culture also took over the things to cancel as well because of their controversial reputations. So here are some things that were canceled by cancel culture:

Perfect bodies

Victoria’s Secret has been under fire for promoting perfect bodies to fit lingerie by the public. Their constant collection release portrayed perfect bodies that every woman should have which caused anger in public.

Now, the brand is invested in making its clothing more inclusive to diverse bodies of color and shapes.

Barbie dolls

Barbie dolls that were internally the most popular toy among kids were also canceled for only producing dolls that fitted the white beauty standards. Mattel, the manufacturing brand, went on a hiatus due to the heavy backlash and came back with changes to its dolls.

Now barbie dolls are sold in various shapes, colors, and even with disabilities to promote equality among children.

Pancake Syrup

Aunt Jemima, a famous pancake mix and syrup brand in America went through some changes. Although the public themselves didn’t cancel, there was a hint of discomfort among people about the packaging and logo that was disrespectful to black people.

The company took it upon itself to make the changes by rebranding the product before anyone could cancel it. PepsiCo changed the name of the brand to Pearl Milling Company that produces all the products as Aunt Jemima. The company considers it a proactive approach before it exceeded an impression of racial insensitivity.

In this way, the company avoided any loss of sales and backlash from the public.

Beauty cream

Most of the beauty creams that were launched in the late 1900s and early 2000s followed the white standard of beauty of fairness. The companies produced beauty whitening cream to brighten the complexion of their consumers. Fair & Lovely was one of those beauty creams that promoted whiteness through advertisement.

However, with time, the awareness of loving your own skin color and wearing makeup that went well with the natural tone has become popular. People started canceling the product for promoting white skin as beautiful and acceptable instead of natural skin.

The brand suffered from a lot of backlashes and much research was done to prove how the brand regulation and promotion of the product was wrong and offensive to the consumers.

Recently, the beauty cream went through a rebranding. The company changed its name and promotion strategy to glowing skin instead of whitening it. Fair & Lovely is now Glow & Lovely.

Hot Wheat Cereal

The famous breakfast cereal Cream of Wheat announced that they will re-design their packaging as the previous one might come off as offensive and insensitive to the black community because it promoted the slavery era.

The brand announced that they will review the product packaging as the image of a black chef was considered offensive due to its stereotypical history. The chef was actually a real person who was photographed when he worked at a restaurant. The company considers this as their proactive approach to fight against the systematic racism that exists in many countries.

PepsiCo products

Frito-Lay is a chip brand whose parent company is PepsiCo. Frito-Lay was recently under fire for mistreating their workers. The workers were given long shifts and less salary, furthermore they violated ethical laws against workers.  The public was outraged and demanded an apology and compensation to the workers.

PepsiCo products were canceled and many people refuse to buy their products because of this issue. The people are most likely to buy products if there is a scandal of mistreatment towards workers. The brand is yet to explain its misconduct towards workers.

Eskimo Pie

Eskimo Pie was an ice cream brand widely bought and loved by people. But the word ‘Eskimo’ has always been considered ‘derogatory’ to the indigenous community of Canada and Alaska which is why the brand decided to rename the ice cream to ‘Edy’s Pie’.

The brand avoided getting canceled and backlashes because its PR team was able to resolve the issue proactively.

Pros and cons of cancel culture

Cancel culture has advantages and disadvantages that can affect a person deeply. Cancel culture is usually encouraged online, and if you have been in a situation where people canceled a brand or a celebrity for something they said, then you have witnessed the practice of cancel culture.

Cancel culture has its own pros and cons that you need to know about:


Power to victim

Cancel culture is the best place to help the victim when the justice system fails to protect them. There are times when powerful people can influence the decision of the court. When the public gets involved, the court is forced to make a decision that is in favor of the victim.

In the past, victims were afraid to call out their abusers, but now they have the power to gain justice.

Powerful are careful

Celebrities and politicians have power so they can abuse it whenever they want. But due to the cancel culture, they think twice before doing anything reckless because they know they will lose their reputation and business easily.

Powerful politicians cannot abuse their power because call-out culture can make them lose their position in politics easily.

Social change

Cancel culture helps in bringing social change rapidly because people become aware of their surroundings and the injustice they are facing quickly. By boycotting a certain tradition or practice through cancel culture, it can help in bringing social change.



Cancel culture has caused an increase in cyberbullying where people go to the extreme of harming the person on the internet and physically as well. There are times when celebrities were threatened with violence against their families and friends.

Cancel culture can turn into cyberbullying because people are not careful enough.


Once a scandal or misconduct is out, it spreads like wildfire in the span of minutes until it becomes uncontrollable. People do not do second fact checks, but believe in what is written in the form of posts and videos.

It becomes so uncontrollable that then cancel culture turns to the extreme for physical and online violence against the brand or person.


The popularity of cancel culture has brought a lot of tussles and physical fights among people. In democratic states, people are free to form their opinions and ideas, but cancel culture divides the public to an extreme extent.

People lose their patience and tolerance if another person does not hold the same opinion as theirs because of the mob mentality in cancel culture.

Cancel culture and mental health

Cancel culture has been founded to have an immense effect on mental health. There have been academic analyses and studies about cancel culture because of the effect that cancel culture has.

Shaming and humiliating a person for their actions have existed since the beginning of civilization. It was kind of like living in a tribe and following its customs, and if you did not follow those customs you would have to suffer from shame from the people of the tribe. The internet has made the world like a global village like in ancient times. So, cancel culture is another form of shaming a person for their actions.

But the constant shaming can lead to serious mental health issues. Cancel culture has proven to leave people in distress. Because when a person is canceled, the whole world condemns it which can cause them to feel even more ashamed and helpless especially if they are wrongly accused.

With the extreme cancel culture, there is either right or wrong. And the mentality that is dominant is the person canceling is right while the one getting canceled is wrong. People refuse to listen to the person’s defense, instead, they call them out again and again until the person de-platforms or leaves the position completely.

Another word for cancel culture


Another word for cancel culture that many politicians use is the “call-out culture” which is similar to the cancel culture.

Call-out culture is to dismiss someone for their misconduct and misbehavior that is worth condemning for. It can be someone saying something racist, sexually harassing someone, or being sexist. They are publicly called out for their acts and held accountable for their actions.

How to deal with cancel culture?

Cancel culture can be quite damaging to the reputation and image of a celebrity or brand. They can lose important contracts and sales within minutes and days even if they are the only ones fit for a role. Therefore, to protect celebrities and brands from getting damaged, there are defamation laws that exist in different countries.

The brand or celebrity has the right to sue people online under defamation law and make them pay for the damages. In this way, people become more careful before calling out celebrities without fact-checking first.

How to avoid cancel culture?

Cancel culture can be avoided if the brands and celebrities do not give the public the opportunity or admit their mistakes. Many companies have been proactive in this situation. They had clever PR teams that identified the issue through market research and consumer response to their products.

The world of the internet is fast and the trends change overnight. It is important for the PR teams to be actively analyzing the social trends for the sake of managing the brand or celebrity.

The best way to avoid cancel culture is to address and resolve problematic issues in a satisfactory manner so that the public is satisfied. If a scandal does surface, the goal of the PR team should be to apologize at all costs and be ahead of the story by gathering relevant information, collecting evidence, and contacting the involved party quickly to resolve the issue.

Furthermore, it is important that you write the announcement or apology notice very closely. Sometimes the apology does not reach the public because of the choice of words by the company. The use of vocabulary and sentence structure matters a lot as to how the public will perceive and accept the explanation given.

After all, it is the public that is going to buy your product or bring revenue to the celebrity through popularity.


Now that you have read the article you know what is cancel culture and how popular it is around the world. Cancel culture was promoted through social media, mainly Twitter. The anonymous users have been attacking celebrities to taint their images and make them lose contracts from famous brands.

On the other hand, cancel culture has promoted social change on a global scale by bringing awareness and addressing the social and political issues themselves. As mentioned before, the cancel culture is like a collective way of addressing an issue and making sure that the issue is solved. It gives the people the power to decide if the justice system fails to bring justice to the victims and marginalized.

Cancel culture is not only for celebrities and brands, a random person can also be canceled for holding an offensive or insensitive opinion and promoting hate. In a way, the public becomes intolerable to what is unacceptable in their eyes.

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