Rowan Atkinson is clear that he is not going to stop making jokes about everything that comes to mind since that is his job. The British comedian is in the middle of a promotional tour for his new series, ‘The man against the bee’, and He wanted to make clear what he thinks of the new “establishment” of humour.
He has done so in statements to the Irish Times. In an interview in which he reviewed his career and in which he criticized the so-called “cancel culture” or, more precisely, the notion that humor should be harmless.
“It seems to me that the job of comedy is to offend, or have the potential to offend, and it can’t be stripped of that potential. Every joke has a victim. That is the definition of a joke. Someone, something or an idea makes itself look ridiculous.”
And this, he warns, should work in all directions. If we accept jokes towards the privileged, also to those who are not because, paraphrasing their statements, arrogance does not understand class, majorities or minorities:
“I think you have to be very, very careful about what you can make jokes about. Do you always have to tease the one above? Really? What if there is someone extremely conceited, arrogant, aggressive, conceited who is below in society? Not all of them are in parliaments or in monarchies. There are a lot of extremely conceited and conceited people in what would be the bottom of society who deserve to be egged on. In a really free society, you should be allowed to make jokes about absolutely everything.”
It is not the first time that Rowan Atkinson speaks about these issues. Already last year he was worried regarding how networks and technologies influence when speaking.
“It is important that we are exposed to a broad spectrum of opinion, but what we have is the digital equivalent of the medieval horde roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. It’s scary for anyone who falls victim to that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.”
Atkinson, on the other hand, is one of the actors most critical of the various british laws that affect freedom of expression or that imply certain censorship, such as the Racial and Religious Hatred Law, or the Public Order Law.