The fallen stars break

the shift into redeemable celebrities


Faith Wallace

According to Pew Research, 44% of Americans have heard the phrase ‘cancel culture’. Cancel culture originally started as a personal decision–now it’s become a global phenomenon.

Cancel culture is calling out celebrities for offensive behavior and is usually done on social media. But what is deemed as a cancellable offense, and who gets a second chance to come back? What is cancellable or redeemable isn’t always consistent.

For example, take Lea Michele. She rose to prominence on the hit show Glee; however, the show was also the start of her cancellation. Allegations from former coworkers came in after Michele posted support for the Black Lives Matter movement on her Twitter.

Co-star Samantha Marie Ware, who played Jane Hayward in Glee, posted a response on her Twitter. Ware responded to Michele’s Black Lives Matter post criticizing her sincerity due to Michele’s behavior of microaggressions.

“Remember when you first made my first television gig a living hell?!?! Cause I’ll never forget. I believe you told everyone that if you had the opportunity you would s**t in my wig! Amongst other traumatic microaggressions that made me question a career in Hollywood,” Ware said.

Ware also claimed Michele threatened her job multiple times and belittled her.

“I remember the first day I actually spoke up and unfortunately no one did anything. They just shrugged it off, like, ‘That’s her.’ No one was stopping these things, which is an issue because the environment was helping perpetuate this abuse,” Ware said.

Other celebrities came to Ware’s defense regarding Michele’s behavior. Plastic Martyr, a trans model, said that Michele yelled at her for being in the women’s bathroom. Dabier Snell said that Michele wouldn’t let him sit at a table since he was only a guest in Glee. Heather Morris, who played Brittany in Glee, said that her experiences with Michele were also unpleasant.

Following this, Lea Michele released an apology saying that she didn’t mean to cause any harm nor does she remember doing so.

In my opinion, she is doing damage control. She is not truly sorry. She is doing this under the guise of being a little bit too much of a perfectionist on set.

After the scandal, Michele lost a sponsorship with HelloFresh and that was that. Former fans were outraged and shocked but that was it. I had assumed that was the end of her career. Who would hire someone who is known to be difficult? Known to be racist and with the baggage of outcry she would never work.

Yet, here she goes to work on Broadway as the lead actress in Funny Girl. I expected more people to talk about Michele’s past controversy in the reviews. Somehow, it was nowhere to be found.

After the reviews raved, Michele made a TikTok criticizing the illiteracy joke. Started by Jaye Hunt and Robert Acker on the podcast One More Thing they claimed that Lea Michele was illiterate. Based on the late Naya Rivers’s memoir Sorry Not Sorry in which Michele refused to improvise her lines. When the podcasters looked for a reply from Michele about River’s allegations there was no response.

Which made them wonder if she wasn’t able to read the book.

Michele had claimed the joke was sexist and now it seems as though she’s rebranded herself as a victim. She’s portraying herself as a victim like being victimized and being racist can’t coexist. It’s honestly sickening.

How is it that her racist actions and her spotty past didn’t bite her, but instead led her right onto Broadway? The show opened with stunning reviews and it seemed as though all of the horrible things she did went away from memory.

I was confused. I thought cancel culture was supposed to stand against individuals like her.

I feel betrayed by not only Broadway, which promotes itself as an inclusive institution, but also by the idea of cancel culture. It feels like the idea of canceling has changed its ways.

Cancel culture originally started as a personal decision. It was a way for people to call out celebrities.
Yet, now the apologies appear to follow a formula.

Celebrities briefly leave the internet and then they return with remorse.

There is a lot of pressure for celebrities to make the right apologies. For others, there is opposite pressure because no one knows how sincere their apologies actually are.

As time goes on, cancel culture becomes more of a joke. The offender becomes a victim. They claim people are out to get them.

What some find infuriating about cancel culture is that people won’t simply just move on and forgive. Those who are canceled feel as though they have to work for an apology as if society’s standards shouldn’t have to apply to them.

Cancel culture is not meant to disregard art or work. It’s simply a reminder that the ideas someone holds are not acceptable within society. So, in the case of Michele, some celebrities shouldn’t be granted a way back into Hollywood.