Chris Rock laments ‘cancel culture’: ‘People are scared to make a move’

Chris Rock attends the  New York Premier..........

When Joe Biden won the 2020 election, I was so happy and nothing could bring me down. In the days following the election, I remember seeing Michael Steele (former head of the RNC) talk about what kinds of lessons Republicans should learn from the Trump years, and he said something which really bugged me: that “cancel culture” will be one of the things Republicans make into a bigger deal post-Trump. At the time, I was like “that’s stupid.” But in the six months since then… yeah, Republicans think it’s a winning issue. They think “the fear of being cancelled” is helping them with white men, men who say and do sexist and racist things and don’t want to be held accountable for it so they cry about cancel culture. That’s where things stand now. Except that entertainers like Chris Rock are playing into this mind-numbing idiocy.

Chris Rock has slammed cancel culture saying it is ‘disrespectful’ to the audience and is leading to lots of ‘unfunny’ comedians, TV shows and movies in the entertainment industry. The 56-year-old comedian told Angela Yee and DJ Envy in an interview on The Breakfast Club that the fear of being canceled has left everybody ‘scared to make a move.’

‘What happens is that everybody gets safe and, when everyone gets safe and nobody tries anything, things get boring,’ he said. ‘I see a lot of unfunny comedians, I see unfunny TV shows, I see unfunny awards shows, I see unfunny movies because people are scared to make a move and that’s not a good place to be.’

Rock was asked by DJ Envy what he thinks about cancel culture and people being canceled if ‘someone says something wrong.’ He said comedians don’t need to be canceled because they ‘get the message’ from their audiences’ responses as to whether they have hit the mark or not.

‘It’s weird when you’re a comedian because when you’re a comedian, when the audience doesn’t laugh, we get the message. Like you don’t really have to cancel us. Because we get the message. They’re not laughing. Our feelings are hurt. When we do something and people aren’t laughing we get it. I don’t understand why people feel the need to go beyond that.’

Rock went on to say that he understood that some things shouldn’t be said but warned that cancel culture is preventing comedians from doing their jobs.

‘Okay, some things don’t need to be said. Some people need to be looked out for. I definitely understand that,’ he said. ‘But not letting comedians work? We should have the right to fail because failure is a part of art. It’s the ultimate cancel. You know what I mean? It’s the ultimate cancel, but now you got a place where people are scared to talk. That’s not — especially in America — you’re scared to talk, but that’s what people want, you gotta make adjustments and, you know, let’s do it.’

[From The Daily Mail]

I felt myself getting stupider with each line. When did Chris Rock turn into such a boring old Republican? I guess he’s been like this for a while – since his divorce, clearly – but he’s like a “bad take” machine these days. For someone who used to be so sharp, so zeitgeisty, it’s painful to hear his sh-t these days. And who the f–k are his comedian friends being “cancelled” for telling dumb jokes? Louis CK? He wasn’t even cancelled, he was acting like a creepy, disgusting douche to women and almost nothing happened to his f–king career! Ricky Gervais? Gervais is sitting on his millions, being an out-of-touch POS and again, he could work whenever he felt like it. Who are all of these Chris Rock acquaintances who have seen their lives and livelihoods destroyed by people on the internet asking them to please stop punching down on marginalized communities?

ABC Disney Upfront

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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36 Responses to “Chris Rock laments ‘cancel culture’: ‘People are scared to make a move’”

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  1. Lily P says:

    or you could just be a good person and therefore not have to worry

  2. Merricat says:

    My guess is that men who complain about “cancel culture” are really just complaining because they can no longer touch women indiscriminately and objectify them in “jokes” without consequence.

  3. Oy_Hey says:

    ‘People are scared to make a move’

    “rich old men are scared they’ll be rightfully called out for punching down and being creeps”. There, FIFY.

  4. Darla says:

    I always found his comedy misogynistic and was never a fan, so…not a surprise.

    • deering24 says:

      Yeah, he’s got serious female problems. And when comedians aren’t honest enough to face their own issues, it irrevocably damages them and their work. Richard Pryor was no saint, but he was mostly unflinching about seeing through the lies he told himself–and expose them. Rock seems to stopped growing, and that kills comics’ talent as fast as drugs, screwing around, or running out of inspiration.

  5. MF1 says:

    It’s because he’s rich. In my experience, men have a tendency to lean Republican once they acquire money. They only care about themselves and their own pocketbooks, so anything that could be a threat, like “cancel culture,” is automatically bad.

    Notably, this seems to happen less often with women. Probably because we’re socialized to actually give a shit about other human beings.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      They also become anti government to avoid regulations.

    • Susan says:

      I would also argue it’s age-driven. The old school guys that came up in a time of “shut up, toughen up and take it,” oddly view this as a badge of honor and expect others to follow suit. I see that in parenting techniques too.

  6. MaplePlains says:

    Maybe if you have to be an *ssh0le to be funny, you… aren’t that funny?

    • Nikki* says:


    • damejudi says:

      Yup. Jim Gaffigan riffing on hot pockets or horses or his own weight might not be groundbreaking, but his delivery and stage persona get me crying/laughing every time.

  7. Krista says:

    I don’t agree with what Rock is saying fully . I look at cancel culture as two issues that kinda get lumped together. think there are two issues. One people being held accountable should- Piers Morgan, Sharon Osborne, Ellen, Harvey Weinstein. People who are truely doing terrible acts/things.

    I have a issue with ‘cancel culture’ as I find it often is used when people are easily offended and ‘cancel’ people/things because they’ve made an assumption based on their own belief/ideals (lots of conservatives). Or they take one account/meme as fact and go ham to get someone cancelled. An example I saw on social media is anti vaxxers trying to get a mom account I follow deleted/removed because she got vaccinated and was promoting it.

    I’m all for holding people accountable for doing terrible things or mean things, but I wait, think, and critically analyze (especially how the react to being held accountable- apologies) before I make decisions/choices. Too many people on the internet do not do this and react emotionally.

    • Jules says:

      Well said!

    • RandomPerson says:

      Hi Krista. I like your breakdown, that there are two (or at least these two) things being lumped under “cancel culture”. The first tries to make people accountable for their behavior; the second is a bunch of babies whining because they don’t like spinach, so it must be eliminated.

  8. Loopern says:

    People are ALLOWED to not like you, your opinions, or the things you say. It happens to everybody – even “regular people” all the time. The fact that these “elite people” would literally shrivel up and die without sharing their EVERY opinion and those opinions could, in fact, harm them or their livelihood and they’re crying about it is making my eyes roll so hard I’m falling off my chair.

  9. Wilma says:

    Who are these unfunny comedians he’s talking about? I guess I’m unfunny as I didn’t always enjoy comedy but have been enjoying it a lot the past few years with more comedians ascending who don’t rely on punching down for comedy.

  10. SarahCS says:

    Specifically within comedy maybe don’t punch down in an attempt to be ‘funny’ and you can be as cutting edge as you like.

    On the wider point people are facing (some) consequences for saying and doing awful things. How terrible.

  11. Christina says:

    Cancel culture is a misnomer. It’s standing up for your beliefs, and minorities have been canceling racists for years. We just don’t call it that. We call it “Standing up for myself against your racists bullshit.” It’s not new. The kids started saying “Cancelled!” and now people who don’t like being told “no” are calling it a culture. I’ve been living in that culture my entire life with many of my friends and family. No one should care about being cancelled if they don’t do or say dumb shit against vulnerable people.

  12. salmonpuff says:

    There was an article in The Atlantic a few years ago about how when people acquire power and/or wealth (although they mostly go together), their brains change and their centers of empathy grow smaller. I think of that every time I see some rich a-hole complaining about not being able to do and say every little thing they want to.

    • Jenn says:

      That makes a lot of sense. I know we’re wired to form social “tribes” for safety, and when any behavior is dangerous to the entire tribe, we collectively shame it in an effort to weed out that dangerous behavior (which is all “cancel culture” is — it’s a thing human and animal groups do, for better or worse).

      I imagine that when one member of the tribe is “resource hoarding” he becomes a little paranoid and lone-wolfy, like a guy hiding in a doomsday bunker with his cans. That person would stop seeing his tribe as a necessary collective who are there to help, and start seeing them, in his own imagination, as antagonizing him. He’s no longer invested in helping the group because he has all the cans, right? He thinks people are coming for his cans. So yeah, over a short time your brain would rewire itself because your worldview is smaller, no longer trained toward seeking “a common good,” and you’d stop being able to visualize people in the abstract — just as haves and have-nots, as people who either deserve cans or don’t. (“Cans” here is “accumulated wealth” — I just really committed to my metaphor.)

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Wow, that’s interesting. I never knew that.

  13. Ann says:

    I love Chris Rock’s stand-up but this take is just too annoying. So whiny. Oh no people are being held accountable! Boo hoo!! He will probably be a guest on Bill Maher’s show within the month so they can circle jerk about this overblown “problem” that for some reason only effects rich men.

  14. BlueSky says:

    These comedians always tell on themselves. “I want to be as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and misogynistic as possible because I built a brand on this and having to evolve takes work so I would just rather keep doing this.”

  15. MissMarirose says:

    He’s still mad that people called out his old Black people v. N***** bit and showed how it played into Black stereotypes and was used by white folk to justify their racist ideas.

  16. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Let’s pretend for a very brief second that Bill Cosby wasn’t a reprehensible first rate criminal. Was he a successful comedian? Was he distasteful, irreverent and shocking? No. His career was far better, by a million miles, than his private life. You don’t have to be a toxic douche to be funny.

  17. Jenn says:

    The free-speech comedy-misogynists club is so entitled to their right to tell a bad joke, they really don’t care who they have to hurt. They’re all in tight together (Louis CK doesn’t have friends so much as a defense team, lol). Dave Chappelle is pretty much redpilled, which is deeply depressing. Colin Jost is one of these guys, too, but he’s pretty tight-lipped about it. Which tidily ties into ScarJo’s adamant belief that she shouldn’t be disqualified from playing any part. It’s all the same thing.

    And, like, I get it, I’m pretty anti-authoritarian across the board too, but at the end of the day their careless both-sidesism philosophy is ultimately about tacitly reinforcing white supremacy and benefiting from patriarchal power structures, and I’m definitely not here for that.

  18. Bobbie says:

    Ah … Louis C.K. has all but disappeared. He is still doing a bit of standup, but that’s a far cry from when he was acting in and producing his own shows and starring in movies.

  19. T says:

    No one is saying comedians can’t continue to tell jokes… but you can and will be held accountable for your words and actions. I don’t know if I think “cancel culture” is useful (and I say that having absolutely “cancelled” some people in my mind for racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic awfulness), but if we want to grow, learn and do better we have to be held accountable and hold others accountable. If Chris Rock doesn’t want to be cancelled he should maybe try not saying problematic sh*t.

  20. Libby says:

    I think being concerned about cancel culture is conceivably valid, meaning I don’t think it’s fair to assume anyone that is concerned about it wants to punch down on other people with no consequences and without being educated. (I also think the concept has trickled down from celebrities with huge platforms to regular people having regular interactions. That’s how many Republicans think of it anyway – of which I am not one!) Concern can look like seeing benefits and also potential costs.

    I have no interest in punching down or making anyone feel othered and I am all about learning from different perspectives. Still, I’m sometimes afraid to speak freely for fear of making a mistake or for fear that people will make a ton of assumptions about me based on something I say, and while I can see that has potential benefits — like reducing the number of potential micro aggressions I might unintentionally inflict on people I interact with — it also has a cost. If people feel safe enough to talk about sensitive things where they know they are somewhat out of their depth, and get educated rather than clobbered, they’re more likely to open their minds and learn and grow.

    Example of times I’ve felt like it would be more politic to keep my mouth shut: I’ve voted Democrat my entire adult life, but I grew up in the Bible belt around Republicans and I remember that way of thinking enough that I ask questions about politics rather than taking things for granted. In two of the DC nonprofits I’ve worked in where the culture has been very progressive, those questions were welcomed by some, viewed with anger and suspicion by others.

  21. MangoAngelesque says:

    There’s a comedian I really like, Steve Hofstetter, who manages to be progressive, feminist, and still funny as hell. And he’s an animal rescuer to boot.

    So yeah, the idea that if you can’t punch down you can’t be funny is just lazy and telling on the mentality of the person saying it. Those types just want to be able to sling slurs and get cheap laughs.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I think it might be scary for comedians. Sometimes they push some boundaries but don’t necessarily do it to offend anyone. I’m a big Curb your Enthusiasm fan. I don’t know if this type of comedy would get cancelled today.

  23. Mel says:

    It’s not cancel culture, it’s called consequences for bad actions.