Not Rowan Atkinson, too?
In an interview with the Radio Times, the multi-hyphenated British star blamed social media platforms for increased levels of polarization, which he said makes him fearful for the future of freedom of speech.
“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. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’,” Atkinson said.
“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. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”
Tell me, who has been cancelled? It seems to me that what this paranoia is all about is that some people who are dependent entirely on their personal popularity with the citizenry are pleased to have a label to tag on the phenomenon of losing that popularity. It’s not their fault — whether it’s just that their 15 minutes are up, or that their creepiness is publicly exposed, or that someone finds out they are a racist or a pedophile — no, none of that. It’s entirely due to a wicked external force, “Cancel Culture”, that is targeting them for destruction for arbitrary and unfair reasons. So Louis CK might have been exposing himself and masturbating in front of women, but nobody would have known that if Cancel Culture hadn’t revealed that. Milo Yiannopoulos might have been frolicking with Nazis and babbling about how molesting children is OK, but the only way you knew that was because Cancel Culture was picking on him.
It’s as if they’re only now noticing that popular opinion is fickle, and yes, people will decide whether they like you on your personal opinions and behavior. This is the human condition. And if your entire career rests completely on your popularity, there will be ups and downs, and you can thoroughly trash your own reputation without any external agent doing any conspiratorial work against you.
It’s also nothing new. Was Fatty Arbuckle a victim of Cancel Culture? I’ll concede that Julius Caesar definitely was, but if you haven’t been stabbed, you can stop complaining. Critics can be obnoxious, but they’re not Culture Assassins.
It’s a ridiculous invention, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Go ahead, tell me that Louis CK and Milo were victims of “Cancel Culture” — it won’t make a bit of difference in my opinion of them. I don’t like what they did or said, and I can choose not to support them. The fact that I might not like you does not mean that I have a “simplistic, binary view of society” — I can be looking at you with all kinds of nuance, recognizing that you’ve done some good work, that you’re kind to dogs, that your mother loves you, but if you’re also a misogynist I can still decide that, on balance, I’d rather not associate with you. I’ve enjoyed Rowan Atkinson’s comedy, but at the same time I can think he’s being a bit of a dumbass right now. Do these whiners about an imaginary Cancel Culture hiding under their bed want to take my choice away from me?