This past week, comedian Ricky Gervais was featured on the radio show, Times of London Radio. There, he discussed the history of the British sitcom The Office where he starred as David Brent. As the conversation progresses, Gervais goes into how the show would not be as well received if it were to air today.
Mocking the mentality of cancel culture
The conversation starts when Gervais is asked about how he previously said the show was originally "low-risk" in terms of production. Then he is asked if it would be considered "low-risk" today, with a character like David Brent whose humor involves "layers of irony" and who says "some pretty lairy things." Gervais immediately responds with a "no" and goes on to say that the show would suffer because people take things too literally. He describes people who take things out of context as "outrage mobs." He also talks about how some people are too afraid to talk about certain topics, while The Office was a show that touched on many, saying:
"This was a show about everything. It was about difference, it was about, you know, 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 cancelled. And the BBC have gotten more and more careful where people just want to keep their jobs, so people would worry about some of the subjects and some of the jokes even though they were, you know, clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference. I think if this was put out now, I think that some people have lost that sense of irony and context and so I think it would be...usually this is what happens, alright: It isn't a case of what's right and whats wrong, its a case of how many letters we have to write."
Gervais talks about how production companies now fear having to write apology letters. He says that people are more scared now and they don't take explanation letters for an answer, and would rather have such jokes removed and banned for good.
"I'm not cancel proof, I just don't care."
Ricky Gervais has been known to speak his mind fearlessly. There has been much buzz after his Golden Globes monologue earlier this year, when he talked about people using their acceptance speeches to express their political beliefs. In his Times of London Radio interview, he talks about free speech, saying:
"Some people think freedom of speech means i should be able to say anything without consequences and it doesn't mean that. We are responsible people. What I say is, I'm saying this thing and i don't believe there's anything wrong with it and I can explain it if you want. You know, because there's the other side of the coin and some people now, they don't care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument, they want to get to the other side."
"It means nothing now to say 'I'm offended.' because everyone is."
Towards the end of the discussion, Gervias talks about the difference between people getting offended now, versus ten years ago.
"Ten years ago when someone said 'I'm offended by that' I'd look into it, I'd go 'How can i change that, what can I do?' Now I go 'I- good. Good. Everyone is. So what?' I think that's the difference, people have gone too far by blowing their argument. It means nothing now to say 'I'm offended.' because everyone is."
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