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Comedian John Cleese Slams 'Cancel Culture' And Political Correctness

Comedian John Cleese Slams 'Cancel Culture' And Political Correctness

He's lashed out at the decision to remove an episode of Fawlty Towers due to sensitive content

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

John Cleese has spoken out against the idea of 'cancel culture' and says people are misunderstanding the line between comedy and seriousness.

Speaking to 60 Minutes Australia, the actor said: "The PC people seem to think that if you make a joke, or tease someone, you are degrading or humiliating them, and this is a complete misunderstanding."

He took particular issue with UKTV, which temporarily removed an episode of his popular TV series Fawlty Towers from its streaming options back in June due to offensive racial references.

Within days, the network restored the episode, promising it would provide 'extra guidance and warnings to the front of programmes to highlight potentially offensive content and language'.


The episode, titled 'The Germans', is often remembered for the recurring line 'don't mention the war'.

However, one scene also involves protagonist Basil Fawlty having a discussion with hotel guest Major Gowen that results in racial slurs concerning West Indians.

Cleese believe the episode's temporarily removal highlights an issue with cancel culture and political correctness.

"They completely missed the point. It was a stupid decision in the first place. It was as though they thought that if you put certain words in people's mouths, that meant it had to be true," he said.

"Comedy's not about perfect people. It's about all of our imperfections and it's not about things going right. It's all about things going wrong.

Channel 9

"It's this pathetic idea that people can't stand up for themselves and can't hear different opinions. It seems to me extraordinarily condescending."

Cleese was asked about the recent backlash that was directed at Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who was widely criticised online after airing sentiments that were called 'transphobic' on Twitter.

"You cannot and should never laugh at anyone's physical pain or their psychological pain, if it's genuine," he added.

"But if it's what I would call posturing pain, like a lot of the PC stuff, then I have more or less contempt for it."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Entertainment, Celebrity