British comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson, the Mr. Bean and Blackadder star, has spoken out against cancel culture. His voice joins a chorus of comics, including Ricky Gervais and John Cleese, who have voiced their opposition to modern witch hunts.
In an interview with the Radio Times, Atkinson described cancel culture, which is the effort to destroy a person’s livelihood or career based on past or present sins as the “digital equivalent of the medieval mob.”
“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,” he said. “It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘canceled.’”
“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,” Atkinson added. “So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”
During the same interview, Atkinson said that he did not much “enjoy” taking on the role of the iconic Mr. Bean because of the responsibility of getting the character right.
“I don’t much enjoy playing him. The weight of responsibility is not pleasant. I find it stressful and exhausting, and I look forward to the end of it,” he said, as transcribed by Variety.
Atkinson’s comments echo that of The Office star Ricky Gervais, who has voiced his opposition to cancel culture and the excesses of political correctness. On an episode of the podcast SmartLess, Gervais stated his belief that even what’s considered woke by today’s society could be taboo in the next ten years.
“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.