Rhetorical Analysis: Cancel Culture (Post 3)

By Kaitlyn Ton-nu

Illustration © Simon Hayes

What is Cancel Culture? The term for when the act of cancelling a person or company for committing an action that would be considered offensive or objectionable occurs. There are many different points of views for example the cancelers and the cancelled. However, some are less talked about than others. These articles I have chosen to research on cover what happens to those targeted by and who have done the cancelling, how certain platforms give advantages to certain sides, and where exactly Cancel Culture came from.

Barbaro, Micheal. “Cancel Culture, Part 1: Where It Came From.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 Aug. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/08/10/podcasts/the-daily/cancel-culture.html.

Photo of Micheal Babaro

Micheal Babaro a Journalist and the host of New York Times podcast. In his podcast Cancel Culture Part 1: Where It Came From published on August 10, 2020 implies that Cancel Culture has taken over the world. Babaro supports his implication through an interview with Jonah Bromwich, a writer for the New York Times Style section. They do this by narrating what higher ups in the political and social media world have said about it. His purpose is to help people understand how big Cancel Culture has gotten from where it began and how much it really affects the world. This is in order to help people see the change between how certain things may end differently compared to before. Throughout the interview they keep it very conversational where Bromwich is explaining and Babaro asks questions and responds. Through this more casual tone they’re appealing towards a younger audience which can relate the topic more as Cancel Culture was popularized especially within the generation Gen Z.

Babaro’s podcast helps us understand what cancel culture was meant to be rather than just covering what it has become. He and his guest Bromwich also talk about how Cancel Culture has become so popularized. This helps with my topic what is cancel culture as it gives us a better explanation on why cancel culture started and what it was intended to be used for.

Sherman, Justin, and Taylor Mooney. “How ‘Cancel Culture’ Changed These Three Lives Forever.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 13 Aug. 2020, www.cbsnews.com/news/cancel-culture-changed-lives-forever-cbsn-originals/.

Photo of Taylor Mooney

In the article, “How “cancel culture” changed these three lives forever” published August of 2020 by both Taylor Mooney and Justin Sherman. Taylor Mooney an associate producer at CBS news originals and Justin Sherman a Video Journalist and producer with Circa news. Both have been trying to show how targeted people have been affected by being cancelled. They tell three different people’s stories on how they became targets in the first place and what happened to their lives after. The begin off by telling the story of Adam Smith who was cancelled for a video he made to protest against a fast food chain. This led to him being fired, struggling with money even debating on killing himself. However, he was able to get a new job and it has changed his life since. Mooney and Sherman appear to be trying to share the different sides of cancel culture. The authors have more of a narrative style of writing so it appears they want to make it so there is no bias in the story, just facts and the affected people’s point of view.

This article provides detailed stories of the effects of cancel culture and how it can change one’s life. Also, to show the public another side of cancel culture as usually only the cancellers side is shown to the public usually so the side of the target of cancellation is barely seen.

Photo of Justin Sherman

Greenspan, Rachel E. “How ‘Cancel Culture’ Quickly Became One of the Buzziest and Most Controversial Ideas on the Internet.” Insider, Insider, 5 Aug. 2020, www.insider.com/cancel-culture-meaning-history-origin-phrase-used-negatively-2020-7.

Photo of Rachel E. Greenspan

Rachel E. Greenspan a reporter specializing in covering digital culture. In her article How ‘Cancel Culture’ Quickly became one of the Buzziest and Most Controversial Ideas on the Internet published on August 6, 2020 implies that since Cancel Culture was first mentioned it has since become a huge and popular idea in social media. She does this by using statistics to show the difference of Cancel Culture being searched between 2004 and 2020. Greenspan’s purpose is to show what Cancel Culture has become and what made it into this big idea. This is in order to help people understand what Cancel Culture really is. Through the article Greenspan keeps it very factual and narrative by telling the stories of when Hollywood stars and celebrities were cancelled and by using statistics to back her claims up. This article’s targeted audience would be an older teens or young adult article as there is more information and is more factual, but there are many pop references mentioned or bands.

Greenspan explains the different ways Cancel culture has been used up till now and how popularized it has become; she talks about how and why it is used so much today and when it is used. This helps my argument on what is cancel culture as it gives us more background on cancel culture and what it has become.

Tensley, Brandon. “Cancel Culture Is about Power — Who Has It and Who Wants to Be Heard.” CNN, Cable News Network, 10 July 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/07/10/politics/cancel-culture-power/index.html.

Photo of Brandon Tensley

Brandon Tensley a National political writer at CNN. In his article Cancel Culture is About Power — Who Wants It and Who Wants to be Heard published on July 10, 2020 implies that in every debacle of Cancel culture there are always different sides and one of them always has the power in the debacle. He does this by using examples from social media to compare and contrast the difference between the one with power and the one without. Tensley’s purpose is to show how different people are affected through Cancel Culture depending on which side you choose or are on. This is in order to help understand what may go on in the different sides and how they gain their leverage. Through the article he used narrating to describe the different examples used when explaining the differences in power. This article is meant for young adult to adult audiences as it mentions both examples from social media and politics.

Tensley explains here how the different sides of Cancel Culture are broken up and who really has the power between the two and how that affects the argument of the otherside. This helps with my topic of understanding Cancel Culture because it gives us information on why many times cancellations may seem one sided.

Thomas, Zoe. “What Is the Cost of ‘Cancel Culture’?” BBC News, BBC, 8 Oct. 2020, www.bbc.com/news/business-54374824.

Photo of Zoe Thomas

Zoe Thomas a Reporter and Producer at BBC news. In her article What is the Cost of Cancel Culture? Published on October 9, 2020 implies that Cancel Culture causes a lot of damage to not only someone’s or something’s reputation, but also takes it too far. She depends on facts to describe how Cancel Culture is being used to ruin people’s reputations. Thomas’s purpose is to show whether or not people are taking Cancel CUlture too far or not by showing the effects it has on the community and social media. This is in order to educate those who don’t know what Cancel Culture does to social media. Throughout the article she uses different facts and information she gets about each topic to show what happens through a situation concerning Cancel Culture. This article is meant for older adults as its mostly facts based rather than story examples.

Thomas is trying to address what could happen from using Cancel Culture and how it can be taken too far where reputations and lives can be ruined. This helps give more information on what cancel culture is as it shows us that cancelling may come from a good intent, but it doesn’t always mean a good result.

McArdle, Megan. “Opinion | The Real Problem with ‘Cancel Culture’.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 11 July 2020, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/10/real-problem-with-cancel-culture/.

Photo of Megan Mcardle

Megan Mcardle a journalist, columnist, and blogger at the Washington Post. Her article The Real Problem with Cancel Culture published on July 10, 2020 implies that Cancel Culture through Twitter is advantageous towards the ones cancelling. She depends on facts taken from different sources to show how in the “Twittersphere” those doing the cancelling are able to create better arguments while the ones cancelled aren’t able to due to the limited character count. This is in order to educate those on why through Twitter companies are unable to defend themselves. Throughout the article Mcardle keeps a factual and formal tone in order to make the information credible and believable. This article is meant for young adults because it is very fact driven, but it’s mostly about the social media platform, twitter.

Here Mcardle is explaining how not only the type of argument, but where the argument happens is very advantageous depending on the two sides. This helps support my topic of what cancel culture by giving explanations and examples on why it can be difficult for a company or person to make their own argument as a defense and to address all of the accusations as character counts on social media will not allow a long thought out argument.



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Kaitlyn Ton-nu

Hello, I am a first generation college student. I am in sophomore year as a Pre-Nursing major hoping to join the Nursing program at SFSU.