British actor Ricky Gervais raged against the rising tide of political correctness and cancel culture in the wake of the Black Lives Matter uprising, describing it as a “weird sort of fascism” fueled by trendy myths.
“There’s this new, weird sort of fascism of people thinking they know what you can say and what you can’t,” Gervais said in an interview with talkRADIO. “There’s this new trendy myth that people who want free speech want to say awful things all the time. This just isn’t true. It protects everyone.”
Gervais also bemoaned the growing level of exaggeration across the political divide, a trend he says is worsened by social media.”If you’re mildly left-wing on Twitter, you’re suddenly Trotsky, right?” he said. “If you’re mildly conservative, you’re Hitler and if your centrist and you look at both arguments, you’re a coward.”
The 59-year-old recently said in an interview with Times Radio that his breakthrough comedy show The Office would struggle to find success or even be allowed on television today.
“I think now it would suffer because people take things literally,” he said of the British mockumentary series, in which he starred as David Brent, the hapless and cringeworthy manager of a paper company Wernham Hogg. The show was so successful it was adapted into a U.S. version featuring Steve Carell that ran for nine seasons and won multiple awards.
Last week, Gervais admitted that cancel culture at places such as the BBC, which is funded by British taxpayers, had made people fearful of losing their jobs and livelihood.
“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,” he explained. “I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.”
Despite identifying as a “champagne socialist,” Gervais has long taken a stand in defense of free speech, and the right to offend without serious repercussions.
“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