Rowan Atkinson has spoken out yet again against comedy’s cancel culture, claiming that “every joke has a victim.”
Along with Ricky Gervais, John Cleese, and Catherine Tate, the Mr. Bean star is one of many British entertainers who have slammed the fad in recent years.
Atkinson has previously stated that it “frightens me about the future,” and he even assisted in the creation of a campaign against elements of the Religious Hatred Bill that he feared would ban comedians from joking about religion in the mid-2000s.
“It does seem to me that the role of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential,” the actor remarked again this week in an interview with The Irish Times.
“Every joke has a victim
“Every joke has a victim,” says the narrator. That is the essence of a joke. Someone, something, or a concept is made to appear absurd.”
“I believe you’ve got to be very, very careful about saying what you’re permitted to make jokes about,” Atkinson said, responding to features writer Patrick Freyne’s question about whether comedy should target individuals in positions of authority rather than those with no power.
“Do you have to kick up all the time?” Really? What if there’s a smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied person who happens to be on the lower rungs of society? They don’t all live in parliaments or monarchies.
“A lot of incredibly smug and self-satisfied people in what would be considered lower society ought to be pulled up as well.”
“You should be permitted to make jokes about anything in a proper free society.”
As previously stated, this isn’t the first time the Johnny English actor has chastised cancel culture, having previously stated to the Radio Times: “The difficulty we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up generating a simplified, binary vision of society.”
“It’s either you’re with us or you’re against us.” You deserve to be ‘cancelled’ if you’re against us.
“It’s critical that we are exposed to a diverse range of viewpoints, but what we currently have is the digital equivalent of a mediaeval mob prowling the streets seeking for someone to burn.”
“It’s terrifying for anyone who has been a victim of that mob, and it makes me fearful for the future.”
Atkinson’s newest remarks come ahead of the premiere of his new Netflix comedy Man vs Bee, in which he plays a Mr. Bean-like character at odds with a bee.