“Tasnim Shah is canceled!” , “Girll, Vivy yusof is canceled” “No more Aisar Khaled, he is canceled”.
For those who are not familiar, this can be best described as “cancel culture”, in which an offending issue is used to trigger a call to remove aka “canceling” support for an individual, social issues or a brand.
So, what is Cancel culture? Cancel culture gives the audience the voice of call for accountability. It has become a tool to seek social change that they desperately uproar for. The question is, should we allow this culture to establish itself in our society?
This canceled culture can be a nightmare that can happen to any public figure, brand, product or even movement. This public backlash will culturally block them from having a prominent public platform or career. The support that they’ve once received from the public will be taken away along with their reputation. This usually happens because of something they have said or done that is considered unacceptable, offensive, or overall sensitive.
If we look at the bigger picture, this culture not only affects the influencer alone but also the brand they work with or even the people they are associated with. There have been cases where the public would also purposely go to the brand’s platform to leave nasty comments about the person engaged with, who have been canceled. The bad sentiments that they get also will outweigh the positive impact or reputation for the brand that they currently have and vice versa. In the position that the brand has been ‘canceled’, there have also been cases where the public would comment negatively on the Influencer’s post, where there might be any posting done that involves the particular ‘canceled’ brand
In the event of an influencer or public figure who was “canceled” when in the midst of engaging in a branded campaign, brands would need to act quick, and come up with smart initiatives in order to ensure that their brands will not be severely affected. One of the immediate steps that the brand can take is to put a hold on the campaign in which the ‘canceled’ individual is engaged, and the brand may choose to drop the influencer from the campaign, while providing a small compensation to the said individual to cover the loss of the collaboration.
Should the influencer or public figure engaged for the campaign have faced public backlash which led them to be ‘canceled’ while the branded campaign has neared the tail end or has been completed, some steps that the brand can take is to monitor the situation closely, especially on the individual engaged comments section, as well as the brand’s own social media posts involving the canceled individual. Should there be no backlash received on the brand’s postings or page, the brand may choose to remain the posting, or supplement the posting with another individual, this is to ensure that the brand minimize the involvement with the said canceled individual, which could potentially jeopardize the brand’s reputation in the industry, while still being able to find a different solution to ensure that the brand’s campaign performance is still maximised.
It is important to note that canceling culture impacts influencers and public figures differently for different countries and cultures. For instance, in South Korea, as soon as a celebrity or influencer faces public backlash, we can see that it usually results in their career being destroyed.
However, in Malaysia, the cancel culture seems to be inconsistent and selective to certain public figure. For instance, the public will cancel the influencer if their actions were not right or their opinions oppose to the public mass. Taking an example from one of the Malaysian Influencer – Haoren, where he faced backlash due to his controversial music video “White Doll” which appeared to have touched on the topic of racism, resulting him receiving criticisms from the public as well as other Influencers. Since the backlash, he had come out with an apology video, while also remade his music video, renaming it to “Lovely Doll” instead, in hope to regain the trust from the public. However, the issue seem to have passed within a week of it surfacing, and Haoren’s fanbase has remained loyal to him.
On another situation, a Malaysian Influencer – Tasnim Shah has posted herself being in a first class flight to Dubai to reward herself, she had faced harsher public backlash, where the public claims that she was entitled when there have been many people suffering financially, due to the pandemic. With that, the issue has also escalated to news sites, adding on to the backlash for Tasnim Shah. Although Tasnim had shared her struggles to gain the funds, through her hard work, in order to afford a first class ticket, many were still disgruntled with her actions, and viewed her to be entitled.
Looking at both these scenarios, it is evident that although the cancel culture in Malaysia is biased, and social issues were not taken as seriously as when there are issues surrounding financial status. Both influencers and brands should be prepared when handling such situations, by assessing the issue clearly and carefully, resulting in the influencer or public figure being canceled. It is evident that when an influencer is being canceled over social issues, it is crucial for the brand to address the situation as quickly as possible, in order to avoid being associated with the situation, and potentially be canceled. However should the influencer be canceled over personal issues, it is important for the brand to carefully assess the situation, although these actions will not be quite necessary.