Rowan Atkinson Says Cancel Culture ‘Like Medieval Mob Looking For Someone To Burn’
Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson has compared the perpetrators of online cancel culture to a ‘medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn’.
In a new interview, Atkinson took aim at social media platforms, blaming their algorithms for an increased levels of polarisation in society.
‘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”,’ he said.
Speaking to Radio Times, he said this culture makes him fearful for the future of freedom of speech.
‘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,’ he added.
Atkinson made the comments in his explanation of why he is opposed to recent suggestions that comedy should be included in ‘hate speech’ legislation.
Speaking about the success of Mr. Bean, the actor noted that the character ‘actually has a disproportionately high following in Muslim countries and places with stricter creative regimes than our own’.
‘A more verbal comic would have difficulties avoiding subjects that offend those with greater sensitivities. But it doesn’t seem to be a problem for Mr. Bean,’ he added.
Atkinson has previously said that he would not take up the role of the character again. While he did confirm that he is in the ‘foothills’ of making an animated Mr. Bean film, he told Radio Times that he does not enjoy playing him in a live action setting.
‘It’s easier for me to perform the character vocally than visually,’ he said.
He added: ‘I don’t much enjoy playing him. The weight of responsibility is not pleasant. I find it stressful and exhausting and I look forward to the end of it.’
Also in the interview, he hinted at a return of his much-loved BBC comedy Blackadder.
Confirming that he has been in talks about a new series, he said it was ‘certainly not impossible’ for Blackadder to return after more than 30 years.
‘That’s about as optimistic as I can be and I’d rather not speculate on when it could be set,’ he said.
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