Lisa Nakamura, Director of the Digital Studies Institute, was recently interviewed by NBC News for their recent story on the social media phenomenon known as cancel culture.

Go to NBC News to read the entire article, "Deep reckoning or fleeting outrage? Cancel culture's complexity proves a double-edged sword."


Lisa Nakamura, a professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who studies the intersection of digital media and race, gender and sexuality, described cancel culture as a “consumer advocacy activity” that helps spur awareness around celebrities and brands that have fallen into moral gray areas.

While reactions to Cosby could be said to represent one end of cancel culture's spectrum, in other instances, the effects are relatively short-lived.

YouTube makeup guru James Charles is a recent example of someone whose business bounced back from an extreme backlash. Days after a feud with another YouTuber, Charles lost millions of subscribers and stopped producing content. But after almost two months — including one 45-minute explanation video — Charles has regained the majority of his lost followers and has resumed creating videos.

From a marketing perspective, the way Charles handled it — the key being an apology that resonated with his followers — prevented his permanent loss of influencer status, said Krishna Subramanian, the co-founder of Captiv8, a marketing company that connects brands with influencers. Cancel culture is all about an audience trusting, or losing trust in, an influencer.