Ricky Gervais likens cancel culture to 'road rage,' talks the 'misunderstanding' of accountability

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Ricky Gervais spoke out once again about the dangers of cancel culture during a recent interview. 

The comedian and former Golden Globes host is often outspoken about cancel culture’s impact on the world of comedy and how difficult he finds it to make comedy in an environment where the consequences of one's words are so dire. 

On a recent episode of the podcast “SmartLess,” the 59-year-old British funnyman joined hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett where the conversation turned to cancel culture and provided Gervais with an opportunity to further share his views on the subject. 

As he has before, he noted that the most dangerous part of the growing trend is how it can affect people’s livelihoods. 

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“The scary thing is being canceled if you say the wrong thing and suddenly Netflix can take you off their platform,” he told the hosts. 

“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,” he continued. “You can get canceled for things you said 10 years ago.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais discussed the concept of cancel culture.
(Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

Despite cancel culture often serving as a topic that’s frequently on the comedian’s mind, he noted that he believes in the concept of the public holding people accountable. However, he argues that holding a public figure accountable comes to voting with one’s dollar, not in shaming others to do the same. 

“The misunderstanding about cancel culture is some people think you should be able to say anything you want without consequences and that’s not true because we’re members of society and people are allowed to criticize you,” he said. “They’re allowed to not buy your things, they’re allowed to burn your DVDs and they’re allowed to turn the telly off. What they’re not allowed to do is to bully other people into not going to see you.”

He also discussed how it goes beyond the world of entertainment, sharing a hypothetical about a doctor facing consequences for an offensive tweet that has nothing to do with his profession. 

The comedian and creator of the original British version of “The Office,” proceeded to get a little more existential with the topic, asking, “what is being canceled?”

“It’s having no platform. And what can they do to me? Who’s gonna cancel me? Twitter? YouTube? If I have to, I’ll go to Hyde Park and stand up on a bench and shout sh–.” 

Gervais also lamented that “nuance” is oftentimes lost in the conversation as to whether or not someone is canceled often comes down to who they are in the public eye.

Ricky Gervais appeared on the ‘SmartLess’ podcast.
(Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

“Some of it’s down to politics. Some of it’s down to social media,” he added. “It’s way too fast. 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.”

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The comedian likened it to “road rage.”

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“It’s things happening too fast that you can’t take back. People dig in and people want to be heard,” he concluded. “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.”

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