News, Culture & Society

Ricky Gervais slams cancel culture and defends free speech

He’s known for his outspoken opinions and controversial jokes.

And comedian Ricky Gervais, 59, has once again slammed cancel culture, saying ‘you shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke’.

Speaking with Metro, he added that he feels people who don’t believe others have the right to air opinions different to their own ‘don’t agree with freedom of speech’. 

Speaking out: Ricky Gervais, 59, has once again slammed cancel culture, saying ‘you shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke’ (pictured in 2017)

Ricky explained his definition of what ‘cancel culture’ is, first saying it is everyone’s ‘right’ to choose which comedians they watch, depending on their own personal preferences. 

However he added: ‘But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion about something that’s nothing to do with their job, that’s what I call cancel culture and that’s not cool.’

Ricky said: ‘Everyone’s allowed to call you an a******e, everyone’s allowed to stop watching your stuff, everyone’s allowed to burn your DVDs, but you shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke that someone didn’t like. 

‘And that’s what we get dangerously close to. If you don’t agree to someone’s right to say something you don’t agree with, you don’t agree with freedom of speech.’

Opinions: Ricky said people who don't believe others have the right to air opinions different to their own 'don't agree with freedom of speech' (pictured at the Golden Globes in January)

Opinions: Ricky said people who don’t believe others have the right to air opinions different to their own ‘don’t agree with freedom of speech’ (pictured at the Golden Globes in January)

The latest condemnation of cancel culture comes after Ricky described ‘wokeness’ as ‘a weird sort of fascism’ amid calls for ‘the free exchange of information and ideas.’

He said: ‘There’s this new weird sort of fascism of people thinking they know what you can say and what you can’t and it’s a really weird thing. Just because you’re offended it doesn’t mean you’re right.’

What does ‘cancel culture’ mean?

Cancel culture is a new phrase to describe a mob mentality to boycott certain products, people or programs.

It is most commonly associated with people who have caused offence through their actions or through something they have said.

But the concept has grown particularly prevalent over the past five years and is making it ‘difficult’ for comedians in particular – given certain comedic tropes have not aged well.

From the time #TaylorSwiftIsOverParty began trending on Twitter to JK Rowling being ‘cancelled’ for her divisive views on transgender people, the process involves refusing to celebrate or acknowledge a person or their work.

The After Life creator shared his thoughts on online shaming after 150 celebrated authors, academics and journalists including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and Noam Chomsky signed a letter criticising ‘cancel culture’. 

The media personality said on talkRadio: ‘There’s this new trendy myth that people who want free speech want to say awful things all the time. 

‘It’s just isn’t true, it protects everyone. If you’re mildly left-wing on Twitter, you’re suddenly Trotsky, right? 

‘If you’re mildly conservative, you’re Hitler and if you’re centrist and you look at both arguments, you’re a coward. Just because you’re offended it doesn’t mean you’re right.’ 

During lockdown Ricky also slammed celeb cancel culture after Gal Gadot and other stars released a video of them singing Imagine. 

Ricky also didn’t hold back while appearing on BBC5 Live, telling listeners that ‘people are sick of being lectured too by millionaires’ after the Imagine video was released.

He has previously said that fans won’t hear him ‘complaining’ while ‘NHS nurses are risking their lives enduring 14-hour shifts’ while speaking on This Morning in April. 

The actor and comedian has also said his hit TV show The Office would struggle to air today due to online ‘outrage mobs’.

The screen star, who played David Brent in the BBC mockumentary, said broadcasters are now too afraid to take risks when it comes to content.

The programme, set at a paper firm in Slough, Berkshire, sees the character frequently insult minorities as he grapples with political correctness.

'They take things out of context': Last month the actor said his hit TV show The Office (pictured as David Brent) would struggle to air today due to online 'outrage mobs'

‘They take things out of context’: Last month the actor said his hit TV show The Office (pictured as David Brent) would struggle to air today due to online ‘outrage mobs’ 

Yet The Office, which aired from 2001 to 2002, won numerous Baftas and Golden Globes and is widely seen as one of the best British comedies ever made.

Ricky said viewers see Brent as a joke and are not laughing with him, but he fears any sense of irony is lost on audiences today. 

He told Times Radio: ‘Now [The Office] would suffer because people would take things literally. There are 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 are cancelled.

‘The BBC have got more and more careful, people want to keep their jobs, so would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference.

‘I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.’  

Back at work: The comedian delighted fans during lockdown as he revealed he has started work on the third series of the hit Netflix show After Life

Back at work: The comedian delighted fans during lockdown as he revealed he has started work on the third series of the hit Netflix show After Life

The comedian also delivered a series of controversial gags at the 77th Golden Globes awards ceremony back in January.  

And in February Ricky spoke out against the stars who used their acceptance speeches to lecture about politics, human rights and animal welfare at this year’s Academy Awards. 

The funnyman took to Twitter saying he ‘tried to warn’ the A-list stars not to preach, while viewers watching at home called the event the ‘wokest Oscars ever’. 

He wrote: ‘I have nothing against the most famous people in the world using their privileged, global platform to tell the world what they believe. I even agree with most of it. 

‘I just tried to warn them that when they lecture everyday, hard working people, it has the opposite effect. Peace.’ 

Plot: After Life follows Tony - played by Ricky - whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer

Plot: After Life follows Tony – played by Ricky – whose life is turned upside down after his wife dies from breast cancer 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.