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23 Aug, 2021 16:02

John Cleese slams cancel culture’s impact on comedy, says he’ll explore ‘absurdity’ of PC-mad world in new show

John Cleese slams cancel culture’s impact on comedy, says he’ll explore ‘absurdity’ of PC-mad world in new show

British comedy legend John Cleese has again hit out against ‘cancel culture’ and political correctness being taken to “absurd” lengths by a “woke generation” that is “trying to rewrite the rules” on what can and cannot be said.

In recent years, Cleese has been outspoken about the dangers of catering to the “sensibilities of the most easily upset,” warning that this would lead to the creation of a “neurotic society” where creativity is “stifled” since people will have to watch what they say.

But the fresh comments came as Cleese – who is best known for his work with the Monty Python comedic troupe and the classic comedy Fawlty Towers – is wading into the “minefield” of cancel culture, apparently to find out whether it is possible to make “good comedy” without causing offence to viewers.

The 81-year-old comedian has announced a new series, titled John Cleese: Cancel Me, in which he will examine the “various reasonings” behind the phenomenon and speak to both celebrities who have been ‘cancelled’ as well as groups that are thought to be perpetuating cancel culture.

Also on rt.com John Cleese mocks ‘woke’ Twitter mob after being labeled ‘transphobic’ for supporting JK Rowling

Cleese said he will explore “all the aspects of so-called political correctness,” adding that he does not understand how the original goal of ‘Let’s all be kind to people’ – an idea he says he is “still in favour of” – got so far off track.

Exploring the topic will help people “be clearer in their minds what they agree with, what they don’t agree with, and what they still can’t make their mind up about.”

During a previous appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Today, Cleese had warned that trying “to be kind” had become a “sort of indulgence of the most over-sensitive people in your culture, the people who are most easily upset.” These sensibilities were not the sort “we should organise a society around,” he said at the time.

“From the point of creativity, if you have to keep thinking which words you can use and which you can’t, then that will stifle creativity,” Cleese said.

The comedian has regularly weighed in on various cancel-culture incidents over the past year, including hitting out against critics who accused him of “transphobia” after he signed a letter in support of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s contention that denying the existence of biological sex erases the “lived reality of women globally.”

He also called the BBC “stupid” after its video streaming service UKTV temporarily removed an episode of Fawlty Towers for use of “outdated language.”

The infamous 1975 episode, titled The Germans, featured a racially tinged conversation between Cleese’s hotel manager character Basil Fawlty and show regular, Major Gowen, who repeatedly used the N-word to refer to the West Indian cricket team.

However, Cleese had defended its use, noting that the show had made fun of the views of “an old fossil leftover from decades before,” and that some people were “too stupid to see that.”

Also on rt.com ‘Don’t mention the war!’ Episode of cult comedy Fawlty Towers scrubbed amid ‘racism’ purge

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