The social media warriors leading the latest round of “cancel culture” are no doubt going to be upset after their efforts were referred to as a “weird sort of fascism” by comedian and actor Ricky Gervais.
Speaking in an interview on talk radio, Gervais criticized the “mob rule” mentality that has swept and destabilized the western world.
“There’s this new, weird sort of fascism of people thinking they know what you can say and what you can’t,” Gervais told talkRadio’s Kevin O’Sullivan. “There’s this new trendy myth that people who want free speech want to say awful things all the time. This just isn’t true. It protects everyone.”
Gervais, who became well-known due to the beloved comedy show, agreed with O’Sullivan that today’s outrage mentality would have led to the series being killed off rather early.
“I think now it would suffer because people take things literally,” he said. “There’s these outrage mobs who take things out of context. This was a show about everything. It was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now in case they say the wrong thing and they’re ‘canceled.'”
Gervais also pointed out that things are becoming less funny because of writers being afraid to offend an ever-growing and vast group of people who seemingly want to be offended.
“And the BBC have gotten more and more careful, and people just want to keep their jobs,” he added. “So people would worry about some of the subjects and some of the jokes, even though they were clearly ironic, and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Gervais noted that the term “hate speech” has become a form of newspeak to describe opinions many disagree with, and defended the values that free speech provides.
“Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right,” he said. “Offense is good because it makes you think. It makes you come up with an argument.”
Interestingly, Steve Carrell, who played Gervais’ American counterpart on the US version of The Office, was of a similar mindset in terms of whether or not the show could exist today.
“There’s been a resurgence in interest in the show and talk about bringing it back,” Carell said in a 2018 interview. “But apart from the fact that I just don’t think that’s a good idea, it might be impossible to do that show today and have people accept it the way it was accepted 10 years ago.”
As for free speech, Gervais noted that people have become somewhat absurd when it comes to the inability to partake in civilized online discourse.
“Social media amplifies everything,” he said. “If you’re mildly left-wing on Twitter, you’re suddenly Trotsky. If you’re mildly conservative you’re Hitler and if you’re centrist and you look at both arguments, you’re a coward and they both hate you.”
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