Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Travis D. Stimeling

Committee Member

Jennifer Walker

Committee Member

Matthew Heap


From its beginning in film and television and its early adoption by Black Twitter, cancel culture has become a phenomenon in the era of social media. Marked by the popular hashtags #cancel, #canceled, #[InsertNameHere]isOverParty, and #Surviving[InsertNameHere], cancel culture is a practice which involves publicly denouncing and/or shaming a person or company when they do something that is considered offensive or objectionable. It saw a resurgence in the era of #MeToo that has not slowed down in an age dominated by social media presidents and global pandemics. Cancel culture has also seen a recent re-adoption by the political right, which begs the question: who is getting “canceled” and why?

This project answers this question by using country music as a lens through which to observe cancel culture and its victims and perpetrators. By looking into the careers of country-adjacent artists Taylor Swift and Lil Nas X, I examine the positional bias of cancel culture. Using John Rich as a counter-study, I remark on the lack of consequences that men of his race and privilege face, though I note the similarities between his and the political right’s agenda in cancel culture. By researching cancel culture vis-à-vis country music, I address the issues of race, gender, and authenticity that exist in both spaces. Using digital ethnography, I draw on the work of country music scholars and mainstream media reporters alike to craft a new study of cancel culture and its effects on people not only within the country music industry, but also the world more broadly.