Social media can be great for many things, but it can also lead to people being ‘cancelled’ or a Twitter pile-on.
Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson is railing against this trend in a new interview.
He compared those doing the cancelling to a ‘medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn’.
Atkinson blames social media algorithms for causing a divide in society. He explains: ‘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”,’
In his interview with the Radio Times, Rowan stresses the importance of free speech but how modern life is making it harder. ‘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.
Rowan was explaining why he is against recent suggestions that comedy should be included in ‘hate speech’ legislation.
He notes that his infamous Mr Bean character ‘actually has a disproportionately high following in Muslim countries and places with stricter creative regimes than our own’.
Atkinson puts the popularity down to Mr Bean barely talking. He says: ‘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’.
New Mr Bean?
Fans of Mr Bean hoping for a new live-action comedy from Atkinson will be disappointed. Atkinson confirmed he’s making a new animated film, but he doesn’t like playing him in live-action roles. ‘It’s easier for me to perform the character vocally than visually,’ he says. ‘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.’
It’s good news for Blackadder fans though, as Atkinson hinted at the possibility of a return. He says it’s ‘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.
Netflix recently announced a new show starring Atkinson, titled Man vs Bee. It’s set to be a 10-part series about a man who finds himself at war with a bee while housesitting in a luxurious mansion.
Is he right about cancel culture?
Image via Alamy