Comedian and actor Billy Crystal has joined his name to the growing list of celebrities speaking out against “cancel culture,” which has forced people to walk on thin ice due to fears of losing their livelihoods and careers over the slightest infraction.
In an interview with the New York Post, the Hollywood star, who took on iconic roles in movies like City Slickers, The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally, described cancel culture as a “minefield” that has made it untenable for entertainers to speak their minds.
“It’s becoming a minefield and I get it,” said Crystal on the state of comedy. “I don’t like it, I don’t understand it. … I just keep doing what I’m doing and that’s all you can do right now.”
“It’s a totally different world [now] and it doesn’t mean you have to like it,” he added.
Crystal, who stars in the new movie Here Today, mocked the recent Academy Awards, which had the infamy of having the lowest ratings in the event’s history. Crystal hosted the Oscars numerous times during his heyday.
“Were they on?” Crystal joked.
“It’s an interesting time, it’s an interesting time,” he said, noting that he preferred to talk about his new movie instead of delving into the topic.
Here Today, which Crystal directed and co-wrote, revolves around an aging comic named Charlie who befriends a street singer played by Tiffany Haddish. The two grow closer as Charlie slips into stages of dementia.
Speaking about the movie, Crystal said that he hopes audiences focus on the friendship between the two characters — describing empathy as a quality he says that the United States needs a lot more of.
"That’s something that we really need more of, the country, and that is empathy and that’s what I think is the beautiful part of this friendship," he said. "She gives up a chance for her career to move forward to take care of him. And I think that’s a beautiful thing."