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Rowan Atkinson Says Every Joke Has A Victim As He Hits Out At Cancel Culture In Comedy

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Rowan Atkinson Says Every Joke Has A Victim As He Hits Out At Cancel Culture In Comedy

Rowan Atkinson has once again spoken out against cancel culture in comedy, saying that ‘every joke has a victim’. 

The Mr. Bean star is one of many British entertainers to slam the phenomenon in recent years alongside Ricky Gervais, John Cleese and Catherine Tate.

Atkinson previously said it ‘fills me with fear about the future’, and back in the mid-00s even helped to launch a campaign against aspects of the Religious Hatred Bill he believed would prevent comedians from joking about religion.

Once again speaking on the subject this week, the actor said in an interview with The Irish Times: “It does seem to me that the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it cannot be drained of that potential. 

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“Every joke has a victim. That’s the definition of a joke. Someone or something or an idea is made to look ridiculous.”

Rowan Atkinson is outspoken about his criticism of cancel culture in comedy. Credit: Creative Commons
Rowan Atkinson is outspoken about his criticism of cancel culture in comedy. Credit: Creative Commons

Features writer Patrick Freyne then asked whether comedy should target people in authority rather than those who have no power, to which Atkinson replied: “I think you’ve got to be very, very careful about saying what you’re allowed to make jokes about.

“You’ve always got to kick up? Really? What if there’s someone extremely smug, arrogant, aggressive, self-satisfied, who happens to be below in society? They’re not all in houses of parliament or in monarchies. 

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“There are lots of extremely smug and self-satisfied people in what would be deemed lower down in society, who also deserve to be pulled up. 

“In a proper free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely anything.”

As discussed, this isn’t the first time the Johnny English star has clapped back at cancel culture, having told the Radio Times last year: "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'.

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"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.

The actor first appeared as Mr. Bean back in 1990. Credit: ITV
The actor first appeared as Mr. Bean back in 1990. Credit: ITV

"So it is scary for anyone who's a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future."

Atkinson’s latest comments arrive in the runup to his new Netflix show Man vs Bee in which he stars as a Mr. Bean-esque character who is at war with a bee.

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Surely set to be as ridiculous as it sounds, the official synopsis reads: “Bumbling dad Trevor tries to get the best of a cunning bee whilst house sitting a posh mansion - but only unleashes more chaos.”

The absurd new Netflix slapstick will be on the streaming service from 24 June, 2022.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy/Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity

Daisy Phillipson
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