Ethan Hawke Speaks Out Against Cancel Culture: ‘Petrifying Time to Speak About Male Sexuality’

Ethan Hawke poses for a portrait during the 2020 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 13, 2020. In an audiobook commissioned by the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and airing online Oct. 19-29 Hawke inhabits the aging Rev. John Ames of Marilynne Robinson's acclaimed novel …
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Actor Ethan Hawke is the latest celebrity to speak out against “cancel culture,” saying it has a chilling effect on artistic expression.

The Training Day and Boyhood star was promoting his latest novel, A Bright Ray of Darkness, when he expressed his reservations about the social media phenomenon.

“In the light of cancel culture and shaming – while a lot of this moment is very helpful – it’s a difficult time to say: ‘I want to be open about the idiosyncrasies of human sexuality,'” he told the Guardian.

He continued:

What’s that great Mark Twain line? “The aim of art is to alleviate shame.” We’re in this period now when you can’t even write about bad behavior because it might seem like you’re condoning it. You have to be able to create a character who does things they wish they didn’t do. I went back and forth on it, because it’s just a petrifying time to speak about male sexuality. If you can’t shine a light into dark corners, the demons that live there will never go away.

Hawke, 50, is the latest entertainment figure to critique cancel culture. Other stars who have more explicitly condemned the practice include Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, John Malkovich, Rowan Atkinson, and John Cleese.

In the Guardian interview, Hawke took a passing swipe at supporters of Donald Trump, when he was asked about negative reviews of his novels.

“I’m OK with that. I meet people in restaurants that hate me,” he said. “And 70 million people voted for Trump. There’s no accounting for taste.”

During the November election, approximately 74 million American cast their votes for the incumbent president.

Hawke is the father of Maya Hawke, the 21-year-old actress whose profile blew up after a turn in Netflix’s Stranger Things. The younger Hawke, whose mother is actress Uma Thurman, went on record condemning her parents’ generation in interviews at the height of national coronavirus lockdowns last year.

“We’re just so annoyed at our parents’ generation,” Hawke vented. “They had it so easy. They were all just high and driving around in cool, gas-guzzling cars. Destroying our environment — and having no wars, and no plagues, and no pandemics.”

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