British comedian and actor Ricky Gervais says it is unlikely his hit show The Office would be made today because of “outrage mobs” who take things out of context.
Gervais’s BAFTA-winning mockumentary series debuted 19 years ago this week, with Gervais starring as the hapless and cringeworthy manager of a paper company Wernham Hogg. Reflecting on the show in an interview with Times Radio on Friday, Gervais said some sections of the audience would take things too “literally” if the show were released now, despite the fact the show was “clearly ironic.”
“Now [the show] would suffer because people would take things literally. There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context,” Ricky Gervais said. “This was a show about everything — it was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are canceled.”
The 59-year-old added that the BBC, funded by the British taxpayer has become “more and more careful” about ensuring political correctness in their comedy.
“People want to keep their jobs, so would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference,” Gervais said. “I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.”
Gervais added that there is “no nuance or discussion” about comedy nowadays, and has instead just become “two tribes of people screaming.”
“I genuinely think I don’t do anything that deserves to be canceled,” he said. “Some people now don’t care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument.”
Despite describing himself as a “champagne socialist,” Gervais has long earned admiration in conservative and libertarian circles for his vociferous defense of free speech, and the right to offend. “I’m an old fashioned liberal lefty, champagne socialist type of guy,” he said last year. “A pro-equality, opportunity-for-all, welfare state snowflake. But, if I ever defend freedom of speech on here, I’m suddenly an alt-right nazi. How did that happen?”
I'm an old fashioned liberal lefty, champagne socialist type of guy. A pro-equality, opportunity-for-all, welfare state snowflake. But, if I ever defend freedom of speech on here, I'm suddenly an alt right nazi. How did that happen? pic.twitter.com/9pYrTJlQHK
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) January 23, 2019
Gervais’s latest comedy series, Afterlife, is currently available to stream on Netflix.