Social Media Scandal Promotes Cancel Culture


Gracie Woidat, Staff Writer

Social media feeds have recently been flooded with updates and opinions on the James Charles scandal, which began on May 10. Some are concerned that the drama is contributing to a toxic “cancel” culture.

The drama started when beauty guru Tati Westbrook accused another popular influencer, James Charles, of using his fame to “trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay,” which she claimed in her now-deleted YouTube video, “Bye Sister.”  Other YouTubers were quick to chime in, such as makeup mogul Jeffree Star, who noted on Twitter that Charles is a “predator” and a “danger to society.”

Following the accusations, Charles’ large following of about 16.5 million YouTube subscribers fell to about 13.8 million by May 13.

Sophomore Haley Hartman, a follower of James Charles, said she was watching his live subscriber count and was “shocked” by how fast it went down. “After watching [Tati’s] video I knew there would be some backlash, but the fact that he actually lost like 3 million subscribers in 1 weekend is insane,” said Hartman. “I think it proves how rapidly news is spread on social media, and how quick people are to react to it.”

Charles is now considered 1 of many celebrities who are “canceled,” meaning they are considered irrelevant or unworthy of their social status after a public blunder or unpopular opinion of theirs is revealed.

The plethora of celebrities who are being “canceled” by fans has led to the development of a toxic “cancel culture” on social media, which aims to hold individuals accountable for their actions, usually through some form of public shaming. This can lead to the spread of false rumors and twisted stories.

“I feel like cancel culture is really fueled by people who are desperate to jump to conclusions and cancel a celebrity that they already don’t like, so people make stuff up to fit what they want to have happened,” said sophomore Izzy Agraz.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that they think James Charles is annoying or not a good makeup artist, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to tear him down,” added Hartman.

Agraz believes that cancel culture can be “dangerous” to social media users because “you don’t know what’s true and what isn’t.”

While most students are not necessarily fans of Charles or even a follower of the online beauty community, many are finding it hard to escape tidbits of the scandal that continue to reappear in their feeds.

Some have even gone far enough to criticize people’s heightened interest in the drama. “I literally didn’t know who any of these people were before this, and I honestly wish it stayed that way. I’m so tired of people talking about it because it’s distracting people, especially naive teenagers, from real life,” said sophomore Jane Burcham.

“There are so many more important things going on right now like abortion laws and climate change, but instead people are too caught up in the online drama,” agreed freshman Mathilde Gourlin.

Gourlin even took to posting on her Instagram story an image that read, “If the world came together to save the planet like we[‘re] all coming together to end James Charles, we could [probably] keep the Earth alive for more than 25 years.” Gorlin decided to repost the comment because “it really just showed how silly it is that people are still focusing on this scandal when there are much bigger issues at hand, the planet obviously being one of them,” she said.

However some argue that following a story such as this is normal for teens; “There are many phenomenons that happen because of social media that eventually blow over, and this will definitely be one of them, so I wouldn’t say that there is a big issue with people following it,” said Hartman. “Some people are just interested in that kind of stuff, and as long as you don’t get overly absorbed in it I think it’s ok.”