Rowan Atkinson, the British comedian best known for playing “Mr. Bean,” is once again taking aim at ‘cancel culture,’ becoming the latest entertainment figure to do so.
“It does seem to me that the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential,” Atkinson told the Irish Times. “Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”
The reporter then asked Atkinson if comedy ought to only take aim at those in power and not ‘punch down’ on anyone.
“I think you’ve got to be very, very careful about saying what you’re allowed to make jokes about. You’ve always got to kick up? Really?” he responded.
“What if there’s someone extremely smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied, who happens to be below in society? They’re not all in houses of parliament or in monarchies,” the actor and comedian said.
“There are lots of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be deemed lower down in society, who also deserve to be pulled up. In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything,” he noted.
The Blaze adds:
Atkinson points out that the outrage mob often takes jokes out of their original context in order to provoke anger on social media and to get a person canceled.
Atkinson remarked that social media is “terribly young,” and people are just learning how to use it.
“In terms of the history of man, it’s been around for a very, very short time and we’re still adjusting,” he noted.
Atkinson also lashed out at cancel culture last year, declaring the destructive left-wing movement akin to a “medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.”
“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn,” he said. “So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob, and it fills me with fear about the future.”
As for social media, the “Mr. Bean” actor noted: “The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘canceled.'”
Other entertainers and comedians have also lashed out at cancel culture including HBO’s Bill Maher.
“Comedian Hannah Gadsby characterized Dave Chappelle’s controversial Netflix special as hate speech dog-whistling,” Maher said in October.
“Well, dog whistle refers to when someone puts things in code because they’re afraid to come out and say what they really think. That’s what you get from Dave Chappelle?” Maher added.
“That he’s afraid to say what he really thinks? And it’s not hate speech just because you disagree with it. Nor is it phobic,” he continued.
In response to the outcry from some Netflix employees over what they considered ‘transphobic’ humor from Chappelle, the streaming giant’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended his decision to defend all of the company’s offerings from woke employees.
In calling his decision “very important” for American culture, Sarandos discussed a memo he wrote with The New York Times that warned employees who are offended by any of the streamer’s content they can look for work somewhere else.