Anger Is Growing over Rowan Atkinson’s Recent Comments
This is not the first time Rowan Atkinson, best known for his role as Mr. Bean, has found himself in hot water with the internet’s cancel culture collective mind. But before you go about seeking for what he did wrong to “deserve” the fury of the online mob eager to see him meet his doom, know it’s a little different from other folks who’ve got here.
Atkinson’s misdeeds were more like the meta version of cancel culture victims who have been outed for off-brand words or unsightly actions. Since Rowan Atkinson talked about “cancel culture” in general, people are trying to cancel him.
An interview with the Radio Times of the United Kingdom gave Rowan Atkinson the opportunity to discuss a wide range of subjects from the difficulty of portraying Mr. Bean to the negative connotations of cancel culture for celebrities. On the whole, I thought his thoughts on the matter were well-reasoned and not too controversial. The interviewer says in a chunk of it:
Online, the difficulty is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which results in a simplified, binary perspective of society. It becomes a situation of either you’re with us or against us. You should be “cancelled” if you oppose us.
Then he goes on:
It’s the internet counterpart of the mediaeval mob swarming the streets in search of someone to burn:
Is Rowan Atkinson going too far with his mediaeval mob comparison? I’d say so, given that those neo-Nazis were out for real blood. If anything, this appears to be a summary of the topic, with a slightly pessimistic view on public discourse.
To me, he seems to be asking for a little more thought and context before he jumps to the conclusion that someone should be terminated. In the interview, he also discusses the severe social consequences of a person’s dismissal, and how the internet mob mentality may quickly spin out of control.
As a result of Rowan Atkinson’s words, the internet mob immediately called for the actor’s dismissal for his views. Many people are making fun of actor Robbie Coltrane for bringing up “Mr. Bean” on Twitter. There are, however, many who argue that his words were nothing more than an opinion and did not constitute anything close to controversy.
The list of celebrities whose appearances have been cancelled due to recent words or acts is almost too long to go through. Letitia Wright, Gina Carano, and, of course, Johnny Depp are all in jeopardy due of tweets they made on social media, reports the Hollywood Reporter.
These instances, of course, are all over the map in terms of severity, and each should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. A few are of a life or death nature, while others may just reflect a difference in opinion. To be clear, there is a difference between the two.
To Rowan Atkinson’s credit, the requests for the show to be cancelled only serve to bolster his argument. He expressed concern about being a “victim of that crowd” in the interview, and it appears that this is indeed happening, albeit on a smaller scale than the cases he cited.
Overall, his upcoming Netflix comedy Man vs. Bee is unlikely to be jeopardized, but hey, this is the internet and anything can be cancelled these days.