British comedian Ricky Gervais has emerged as one of the harshest critics of cancel culture, and the former Golden Globes host was at it again this week in an episode of the podcast “SmartLess” with hosts Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes. On the episode, Gervais said that cancel culture was threatening not only free speech but the livelihood of writers, entertainers, and even people in ordinary positions where you have to hold the “right” opinions to be accepted.
Gervais said that one particularly aspect of the new culture is more insidious than all the others: The fact that you can suddenly wind up in hot water for saying things a long time ago – when those things were perfectly acceptable at the time.
“The scary thing is being canceled if you say the wrong thing and suddenly Netflix can take you off their platform,” he 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.”
Well, we’ve seen elements of that, have we not? How many irate “woke” articles have we read about how backwards and repressive the TV show “Friends” was in the 1990s? Or Seinfeld? And that’s not even getting into shows like “30 Rock” and “Community,” where episodes have been removed and censored for being too controversial for our modern eyes and ears. These were largely shows that were on the cutting edge of “progressive” topics and comedy at the time they aired. Not necessarily shows with a Democrat message, so to speak, but they introduced the culture to gay characters and other themes that were uncommon at the time. Now, because they handled those things in a way that doesn’t comport with the Woke Mob’s standards, they are criticized.
And, really, when it comes down to it, isn’t this the same phenomenon we’re seeing when these rabid anarchists tear down statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson? Canceling people because they don’t believe the “right” things in 2020 is bad enough; canceling people who lived a hundred years before wokeness was a thing is the height of idiocy.
Gervais said that social media is responsible for much of what’s wrong with society today.
“It’s way too fast,” he said. “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. 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.”
Let’s be honest about it: It’s people who want to impress others about how righteous and sinless they are. And the sanctimony is getting really, really old.