YouTube trends come and go, but there is one that is here to stay. In this article, we’re going to look at one of the most pressing issues on YouTube; cancel culture. While cancel culture forces creators to be more accountable for previous mistakes and actions, it can also be problematic. From apology videos to leaving YouTube all-together, many creators have apologized for previous actions and mistakes, but cancel culture is rather unforgiving. It may be holding creators to unrealistic standards.

What is cancel culture?

Social media platforms, such as Twitter, make it easy for troubling information to spread. This accessibility to information helped create “cancel culture.” Defined, cancel culture refers to the widespread withdrawal of support for public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive. Many big-name YouTube creators faced recent backlash and “cancellation” for reasons ranging from previous statements, videos or actions.

Is cancel culture a good or bad trend for the YouTube community?

Cancel culture is a controversial topic. Some people are for it, some are against it. Many people argue that it holds people accountable for their actions, which is the intended purpose of cancel culture. People must face their mistakes head-on and apologize. In some cases, creators have escaped this idea of being canceled after apologizing to the masses for their behavior. For instance, after he uploaded a video containing a body filmed inside Japan’s ‘Suicide Forest,’ Logan Paul was hit with immense controversy. However, he escaped the smoking gun and made a full recovery after posting an apology video. Shane Dawson faced the music earlier this year after more controversial information about his past resurfaced. YouTube even demonetized his videos.

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Shane Dawson was canceled recently for numerous racist and pedophilic comments and jokes. Image courtesy: Shane Dawson, YouTube

On the flip side, many argue that cancel culture is a bad thing. The fact that a creator’s entire career may end for a mistake made in the past is troubling. For instance, former YouTuber Jenna Marbles faced an enormous amount of backlash this year after one of her old videos resurfaced. In 2011, Marbles made a video of her doing an impression of Nicki Minaj. While this video was made in jest, many people found it offensive because Marbles chose to darken her skin, and therefor was accused of blackface. She has previously apologized for her offensive videos and had already removed the videos years ago. Only recently have the video resurfaced, causing a huge push to cancel Marbles. The arguments against cancel culture claim that it’s unfair to hold creators to such unrealistic standards.

“Let’s stop normalizing going back through 10 years of somebody’s life hoping you stumble upon a mistake to try and ruin their life,” tweeted singer and fellow YouTuber Gabbie Hanna.

Additionally, many cancel movements are emotionally charged and start with information that hasn’t been verified or investigated. The hastiness of these accusations ends up hurting creators who, in some cases, aren’t guilty. Such was the case with James Charles in 2019. Early in the year, he lost millions of his subscribers overnight due to controversy brought up by Tati Westbrook, even though it later came out that Charles was not guilty of most of her claims.

The cancel culture YouTube trend has devalued apology videos

While apology videos have been around for a while, they have recently become more frequent due to cancel culture. Apology videos can be a great way for creators to tell their sides of the story, but they have become all too common and almost overused. Many people consider apology videos fake or insincere. The titles usually indicate that the topic is important but are vague enough that people want to click to watch the video. Often, the videos start with a sigh that eventually leads to crying. Many people believe the apology video has become a trend that creators use to get views.

Laura Lee’s apology videos is one of the most memed apology videos on YouTube. Image courtesy: Laura Lee, YouTube

More views for “canceled” creators

Ironically, cancel culture usually brings in more views for the “canceled” creators. Not all apology videos are clickbait. There are actual apologies. However, it’s also become a way for creators to do damage control and reel in the views. While apologizing for past behaviors is warranted, many apologies don’t lead to a behavior change. Many creators have made apology videos, promising the work on themselves. However then a few weeks later, influences back to the same antics. Logan Paul seemed to have learned nothing after his ‘Suicide Forest’ video. He uploaded a video of him tasering a dead rat just a few weeks after his apology video. On YouTube, most apology videos are now seen as excuses for past behaviors, not actual sincere apologies. In many ways, cancel culture has made creators so concerned with their careers ending that they are more focused on damage control than learning from their mistakes and working to become better.

Cancel culture shows no signs of slowing down

As long as information is accessible and shareable online, it’s unlikely cancel culture will slow down. We are in a day in age where people are held accountable. There is a lot of good that can come from calling out influencer’s behaviors, especially when they reach criminal levels. However, it’s also made it very easy to “cancel” any creator. This allows people to create controversies about things that might not necessarily warrant a creator’s entire career to end. Regardless, like it or not, the YouTube cancel culture trend isn’t slowing down soon.