Comedian Ricky Gervais has long been an opponent of cancel culture and the excesses of political correctness in general, though he recently distinguished between the public holding someone accountable for their actions and canceling someone based on what they said or did.
During an episode of the podcast “SmartLess” with Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, Gervais said that being woke in today’s environment could be taboo in the next 10 years based on cultural shifts.
“The scary thing is being canceled if you say the wrong thing and suddenly Netflix can take you off their platform,” Gervais said.
“You could be the most woke, politically correct stand-up in the world at the moment, but you don’t know what it’s going to be like in 10 years time. You can get canceled for things you said 10 years ago,” he added, as reported by Fox News.
Some might argue that cancel culture holds public figures accountable for transgressions, but Gervais said they are mistaken. For instance, if a comedian, celebrity, or anyone else expressed views that offended someone, the person can always choose to boycott them; with cancel culture, however, people are bullied into deplatforming and blacklisting others, something entirely different.
“The misunderstanding about cancel culture is some people think you should be able to say anything you want without consequences and that’s not true because we’re members of society and people are allowed to criticize you,” he said. “They’re allowed to not buy your things, they’re allowed to burn your DVDs and they’re allowed to turn the telly off. What they’re not allowed to do is to bully other people into not going to see you.”
The creator of U.K.’s “The Office” believed that Twitter and social media has largely been the driving force behind this, noting that people can file complaints at rapid speed now and likening to a kind of “road rage.”
“Some of it’s down to politics. Some of it’s down to social media,” he said. “It’s way too fast. Twenty years ago, if you were offended by someone on television you got a pen and paper and you went, ‘Dear BBC…’ Now you fire off a tweet and that tweet goes on the f***ing news.”
“It’s things happening too fast that you can’t take back. People dig in and people want to be heard,” he concluded. “People want to feel they have an effect. It’s why people heckle a comedian. They want to feel they were there. Now people are heard.”
A chorus of celebrities have come out swinging against cancel culture. Last August, singer Kelly Rowland, formerly of Destiny’s Child, said that cancel culture has given people a god complex.
“In this ‘cancel culture’ we live in, I am SO grateful God NEVER canceled me, and I’m sure he could’ve many-a-times!” Rowland said on Instagram.
Likewise, singer Nick Cave said that cancel culture deprives people of mercy.
“As far as I can see, cancel culture is mercy’s antithesis,” Cave wrote. “Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck.”