Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean has some thoughts on cancel culture

Rowan Atkinson appears on the popular Italian TV show 'Che tempo che fa' on Rai1

For a few years now, there’s been this weird subculture of famous men, usually between the ages of 40-65, who are incredibly concerned about cancel culture. Many of those famous men are connected to the comedy world, and they believe that they – and other famous male comedians – are in danger of being cancelled because of the jokes they make. More often than not, their “comedy” is punching down on marginalized people, so I could see why they are worried that people might get mad. Other famous men just have a general concern about cancel culture because – I genuinely believe – they are worried about historically marginalized groups and people having more power, more voice in society. It’s basically just dudes whining about how their old sh-t doesn’t work anymore. Add British comic actor Rowan Atkinson to the pile. Atkinson is arguably most famous for playing Mr. Bean, and… that’s all I’ve got. I mean, he’s a legend in British comedy, but the dude isn’t someone who *needs* to chime in on cancel culture.

Rowan Atkinson, the British actor known the world over for his “Mr. Bean” character, has delivered a broadside against the so-called online “cancel culture.”

During an extensive interview with U.K. outlet Radio Times, Atkinson said: “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 ‘canceled.’

“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,” Atkinson added. “So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”

Elsewhere, describing his iconic Mr. Bean character, a global comic phenomenon transcending borders, language barriers and cultures that has spawned feature films, animated series and books, Atkinson said: “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.”

[From Variety]

This gave me whiplash: “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.” Yes, we should “be exposed” to voices which don’t belong to older men whose racism, bigotry, sexism and patriarchy has defined culture for millenia, but at the end of the day, you can’t let those voices really have any power! Besides, from everything I’ve seen on the internet’s wild west, cancel culture is basically “everybody yells at a celebrity for a day and then we move on to the next thing.” The only people who have really seen their careers or livelihoods damaged by “cancel culture” are the people who have done some truly heinous sh-t and they deserve to see their careers destroyed.

Rowan Atkinson appears on the popular Italian TV show 'Che tempo che fa' on Rai1

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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24 Responses to “Rowan Atkinson aka Mr. Bean has some thoughts on cancel culture”

  1. Wilma says:

    I don’t think these dudes really get it. They heard a buzzword somewhere and just assume they understand it.

  2. Amy Bee says:

    Rowan Atkinson is a Brexiteer and a Tory, of course he’s going to complain about cancel culture. And for the right price he would continue to play Mr. Bean, like he did at 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, long after his show went off the air.

  3. Alexandria says:

    We want accountability and they term it cancel culture and wokeness as a defense. Simple.

    The world should change and I will be part of that change.

  4. Yup, Me says:

    Mr Bean is largely SILENT. Rowan should keep that same energy.

  5. Lal says:

    Eww, I just got a nasty flashback of hapless Bean’s head stuck inside a raw, salmonella infested whole turkey.

  6. Dria says:

    What cancel culture? I hear the word used a lot, but who REALLY has been cancelled? Woody Allen, Chris Brown, Louis CK- all were ~cancelled~ for different levels of abuse, yet they’re all still working, all still have fans. Also, cancel culture just means consequences. Imagine that.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Yeah those guys aren’t really cancelled. They had to deal with some deserved criticism for a while. They’re still rich and successful and NOT IN PRISON.

    • manda says:

      I agree. I don’t even really understand what cancel culture is–are the people that complain about it simply complaining about getting criticism for their unpopular opinions? Because people have been using boycotts, etc, for years, and I don’t really see the difference? I don’t understand why they don’t understand that people may not want to pay to hear them anymore if everyone thinks they are jerks

  7. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    He looks forward to the end of responsibility. 😐


  8. Tiffany says:

    All he had to do was sit there and count his money.

    Good Lord, Blackadder.

  9. February-Pisces says:

    Am I the only one who sees what’s going on regarding ‘cancel culture’? For example the daily mail last week had a story that went “wokes now want to cancel Grease”.Well who are these ‘woke’ people they speak of? I searched through twitter to look for tweets regarding Grease to see if the ‘liberal, leftie wokes’ were indeed demanding to cancel it with their pitchforks and couldn’t find anything. Then it trended with right wing blue ticks including piers Morgan moaning about it and how ‘cancel culture has gone mad”.

    It’s funny how liberal ‘wokes’ were accused of causing a sh*t storm but it was the right wing media who actually tried to blow this story up. They did the same with Adele when she braided her hair. Right wing media are the ones who seem to have created ‘cancel culture’ as a way to put the fear in centrist white people, the ‘crazy wokes’ will accuse anyone of racism, sexism, homophobia etc no matter how mild. Yet when Lord Kilclooney called Kamala Harris “that Indian” and was met with 10k comments calling him a racist the daily mail were funnily enough very quiet. The racist media will never cancel actual racism or bigotry but will use Grease, Friends or Adele as bait to create ‘fauxrage’ just to make liberals look like they will cry racist over anything.

    And as for Rowan Atkinson he needs to stfu. Rich white men complaining because they get called out for making jokes about people with disabilities. I would love to have his problems if that’s all I had to worry about.

  10. CC2 says:

    I think cancel culture is real to some extent-for us normal and unconnected folks. There are definitely some people out there who will spend hours finding for anything to ruin you, and people’s lives have been affected because companies and colleges simply do not want to go through the hassle.

    But rich and famous men don’t get it. Cancel culture doesn’t affect the privileged. Trump is still sitting pretty as of now..that’s enough proof.

  11. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    John Cleese, now Rowan Atkinson? :(

    • Tiffany says:

      Rowan was always part of the Oxford elite. He always rolled like this.

      It was just better when he did not speak.

    • Valerie says:

      I’m not a fan of Cleese or Monty Python, but it seems strange to me that someone whose name is synonymous with subversive humour is, at their core, a conservative. Were these people always like this or did something change their minds?

  12. GuestwithCat says:

    At the surface what he’s saying has some merit in defined circumstances. But I don’t think it all means what he thinks it means applied to the big wide world where we are trying to put a lid on all the appalling shit marginalized people are being subjected to.

    And he really shouldn’t diss the character/job that is the only reason why anyone would listen to what he has to say in the first place. There are people who will never get the breaks and privileges he has gotten. If it’s all a burden to him, he needs to take a moment to think of children forced into prostitution to feed themselves and their family and STFU and bear the “burden” of his successful character in private.

    There are days when anyone’s burdens and responsibilities get the better of their patience, but we can’t for a moment cast aside our gratitude for every thing we have, because so many people don’t even have the bare necessities. And for a public figure it is especially important to bear this in mind.

  13. Valerie says:

    He’s somewhat right. It seems that an increasing number of people want to scrub the world and the internet of everything that offends them. They want to wipe out every opposing opinion so that they exist in an echo chamber. When you do this, you risk erasing history and its lessons. You gloss over, you whitewash, you cloak.

    Nobody really wants to debate with anyone anymore, they just want to have their say and verbally beat the other person into submission. That approach set the stage for someone like Trump, who can never be questioned or challenged. Even now, there are people who know what needs to be done are like, “Well, we don’t want to be too harsh with him…”

    However, it also seems that too many believe that freedom of speech means freedom from consequences. Again, you have Trump and his insurrectionists. But let’s put Rowan’s thoughts into some context: This is in response to the Bean Dad shit. That’s indefensible. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It harkens back to a time when people shrugged off domestic abuse as a private matter. He went public with his behaviour and was judged accordingly. I’m sure that if anyone else—let’s say a teacher—had treated her that way, he would have felt differently and been on the phone to her school in a heartbeat.

  14. Amando says:

    Cancel culture isn’t even real. No one truly gets canceled. Look at Kanye, the Kardashians, Trump, Gibson, Roseanne, Woody. They are all awful in their own ways and have proven it time and time again, yet they still have supporters and money coming in.

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