Students explain how to ‘cancel’ someone

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The term “problematic” has become a buzzword in recent years, with the word now describing various undesirable beliefs or actions of celebrities. The label increased in usage throughout the 2010s, presumably due to its use as a catch-all word for something that one finds undesirable. But some people criticize the term for being vague and meaningless. 

“I feel like ‘problematic’ has become a term for anything someone doesn’t like,” junior Luis Cantera said. “I feel like if someone is sexist or toxic, we should just call them that.”

However, there is not a consensus on what makes someone or something ‘problematic.’”

For example, problematic might be J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments or Gina Carano’s Instagram story comparing being a Republican to being a Holocaust victim.

Junior Luis Cantera believes that “problematic” refers to the energy one puts out into the world.

“A problematic person is someone who puts out negative energy into the world with no remorse,” he said. “A good example of this is [Tekashi] 6ix9ine, although you could make an argument for artists like Drake or The Weeknd.”

Tekashi 6ix9ine’s controversies are numerous enough to create multiple documentaries. His constant use of the N-word in his songs despite not being Black, his child sexual abuse charges and his role in the Nine Trey Gangsters trial is just the tip of the iceberg. Despite all these controversies, he has 10 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

Freshman Hanifa Keder believes 6ix9ine’s lack of awareness is what makes him problematic.

“What makes one problematic is their arrogance and ignorance,” she said. “[6ix9ine] has done many things that make people hate him, but he does not seem to care.”

Tekashi 6ix9ine is one of the most despised rappers in the industry for many reasons, but the one that got him blacklisted was snitching in court, which is heavily frowned upon in the music industry.

However, 6ix9ine’s blacklisting by most of his peers in the music industry is relatively uncommon. Another heavily discussed artist often accused of being problematic is Chris Brown.

Senior Sana Nadeem talked about how Chris Brown’s career is still stable despite his controversies.

“He was literally arrested for assault against Rihanna, but he still has the 25th most listeners on Spotify,” she said.

Chris Brown is an anomaly within the music industry. His controversies don’t stop him from being a top-selling artist, with the most infamous of his controversies being his domestic violence charge from his girlfriend at the time, Rihanna.

His career is full of controversies, such as an altercation with Frank Ocean over a parking spot, saying that he wanted members of the group CHVRCHES “to walk in front of a speeding bus” and a standoff with police officers that lasted an entire day. Despite all of this, he still has a flourishing career.

The word “problematic” comes with its baggage due to not having an agreement on its definition. Aside from its consistent usage referring to celebrity behavior, the word’s meaning is vague and unquantifiable. 

One thing is sure: As long as celebrities continue to exist, “problematic” will be the word used to address their flaws.