11 Celebrities Who Want to Cancel ‘Cancel Culture’
The term "cancel culture" has become an all-consuming buzzword over the last few years, with public figures, celebrities and everyday Karens gone viral being swallowed up by the mob mentality that is social media.
Oftentimes, these public calling-outs are warranted, and part of a larger cultural effort toward accountability; other times, perhaps not so much. But as society continues to grapple with the concepts of justice, forgiveness and the effectiveness of public shaming, many celebrities have spoken out in opposition to the proverbial pitchforks and torches found in many corners of the Twitterverse.
Below, we've rounded up 11 celebrities — from Jameela Jamil and Kelly Osbourne to Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber — who have expressed their disdain for cancel culture. Read on for the complete list.
Jameela Jamil has been a longtime constant advocate for ending the perception of cancel culture, particularly among the Hollywood set.
In an address at Harvard University in September 2020, The Good Place actress shared her thoughts on the subject, saying, "We need to separate what’s been canceled and what’s being called out. Celebrities are such snowflakes. They don’t know how to take criticism, because they’ve never been criticized before. So when they’ve just been called out, they’ll cry cancel culture, but that’s not very helpful because it muddies the waters to what cancellation is."
She continued: "Cancellation means being de-platformed, having your rights taken away, your job taken away, your finances being harmed. That mostly happens to civilians, not celebrities. I got canceled 45 times in February. All of my shows got recommissioned, I landed a huge campaign and my book deal remains. I’m f--king fine."
In the early days of the pandemic, Kelly Rowland took to Instagram to decry the urge to pass judgement on others in a classic Notes app post.
"In this 'cancel culture' we live in, I am SO grateful God NEVER canceled me, and I'm sure he could've many-a-times! Let us always TRY to remember NOT to judge others. We HONESTLY don't have the space nor authority [to]! Let us remember to lead with love & kindness, the world is has enough negativity, for you to pour more into it! #STOPTRYINTOBEGOD," she wrote, captioning the post by asking, "So what light are you bringing into the world?"
To Chris Rock, the worst thing cancel culture has done in recent years is force comedians to tip-toe around the line of acceptability in their jobs to make people laugh.
"It’s weird when you’re a comedian because like, when you’re a comedian, when the audience doesn’t laugh, we get the message. You don’t really have to cancel us because we get the message. They’re not laughing. Our feelings hurt. When we do something and people aren’t laughing we, like, we get it." he said in an interview with popular radio show The Breakfast Club back in May.
Rock went on to claim that the current environment has led to too much "unfunny" and "boring" comedy.
"Everybody’s scared to make a move," he said. "That’s not a place to be. You know, we should have the right to fail because failure, failure is a part of art...But now you know you’ve got a place where people are scared to talk."
In 2021, Dakota Johnson took a stance against cancel culture in defense of her one-time co-stars Shia LeBeouf, Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp — all of whom have experienced career-damaging scandals in recent years.
"I never experienced that firsthand from any of those people," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I had an incredible time working with them; I feel sad for the loss of great artists. I feel sad for people needing help and perhaps not getting it in time. I feel sad for anyone who was harmed or hurt. It’s just really sad."
The Bad Times at the El Royale star clarified that she felt the ongoing attitude toward canceling celebs was a "major over-correction" and stressed her hope that there might be "a way for the pendulum to find the middle."
"But, yeah, cancel culture is such a f---ing downer. I hate that term," Johnson concluded.
Kelly Osbourne's eyes were opened to the realities of cancel culture following her mom Sharon Osbourne's headline-making exit from CBS roundtable The Talk. The exit followed an on-air dispute between Osbourne and her Black co-host Sheryl Underwood over Osbourne's defense of pal Piers Morgan.
"I didn't know what was really going on in this country because I just thought that simply being not racist was enough. It's not, it's actually not, you have to be actively not racist and educate yourself and learn, and don't be afraid to make a mistake, everybody's so afraid of cancel culture," the younger Osbourne said in an interview with Extra.
Instead, she offered an idea for an alternative way to work through bad behavior that doesn't involve public shaming, something she called "counsel culture."
"I say f--k cancel culture, it's all about counsel culture," she said. "Educate people, teach people. A gentle nudge in the right direction is so much better than a public execution."
John Cleese has become such a vocal critic of cancel culture that he's even got his own show about it! John Cleese: Cancel Me is a new series airing on Channel 4 in the U.K. where the Monty Python star will "set forth into the minefield of cancel culture to explore why a new ‘woke’ generation is trying to rewrite the rules on what can and can’t be said," per a press release.
The veteran actor even canceled his own planned speech at Cambridge University due to what he called "woke rules."
"I was looking forward to talking to students at the Cambridge Union this Friday, but I hear that someone there has been blacklisted for doing an impersonation of Hitler. I regret that I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I am blacklisting myself before someone else does," Cleese tweeted.
He added in a follow-up tweet, "I apologize to anyone at Cambridge who was hoping to talk with me, but perhaps some of you can find a venue where woke rules do not apply."
An object of cancellation himself, Johnny Depp spoke on the topic while attending the San Sebastian Film Festival — where he was the recipient of the honorary Donostia Award — in September 2021.
"It can be seen as an event in history that lasted for however long it lasted, this cancel culture, this instant rush to judgement based on what essentially amounts to polluted air," he said according to Deadline. "It’s so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe."
Depp continued: "It takes one sentence and there’s no more ground, the carpet has been pulled. It’s not just me that this has happened to, it’s happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men. Sadly at a certain point they begin to think that it’s normal. Or that it’s them. When it’s not."
Demi Lovato weighed in on cancel culture following one of their numerous cancellations on Twitter with the trending hashtag #DemiIsOverParty.
The singer's latest brush with being cancelled happened after they were allegedly caught bashing former bestie Selena Gomez on a secret finsta back when they were dating Max Ehrlich. (Wow, what a time.)
"One, it’s not real," Lovato said during an April 2020 appearance on Jamil's podcast I Weigh. "I don’t think anyone was ever officially canceled, otherwise certain people wouldn’t have Grammys, wouldn’t have Oscars, certain people would be where they are in their positions.
"Where is the forgiveness culture?" Lovato asked, adding that they've "been canceled so many times, I can’t even count…"
Months before the tragic accident on the set of his film Rust, which claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Alec Baldwin took to Instagram to deliver a lengthy diatribe against cancel culture.
(Yes, this was around the time when his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, was in the spotlight for the more-than-a-little confusing identity claims surrounding her heritage...)
"I think cancel culture is creating more problems than it solves," the 30 Rock star said in his video. "It’s like trolling. It’s like a giant mile-long net and you’re catching a lot of people, many of them deserve it and a few of them, more than a few, who don’t. Or they don't deserve to have their careers and their lives destroyed."
Justin Bieber surprisingly decided to wade into the waters of cancel culture (lyrically, anyway) when he released his surprise gospel EP Freedom in April 2021.
On on the Lauren Walters-assisted closing track "Afraid to Say," he sings:
"What have we done with society / When everybody’s getting canceled? / And can’t there be room for maturity? / ’Cause writing ’em off is not the answer / Do we got the room to make mistakes? / Are we judged for everything we say? / I wanna grow but I'm afraid / And will it always be the same?"
Bryan Cranston had one goal going into 2021: to cancel cancel culture.
"We live in this 'cancel culture' of people erring and doing wrong — either on purpose or by accident — and there’s less forgiveness in our world,” the Breaking Bad actor told the Associated Press. “I think we’re unfortunately in a coarser environment. I think our societies have become harder and less understanding, less tolerant, less forgiving."
He continued: "Where does forgiveness live in our society? Where can we accept someone’s behavior if they are contrite, if they are apologetic and take responsibility? I think we need to take a second look at that, exhale, and realize that asking forgiveness and receiving forgiveness are not weaknesses, but are human strengths."