British actor Rowan Atkinson, world-famous for his role as “Mr. Bean,” railed against cancel culture this week, calling it the 21st-century digital equivalent of a revolutionary mob out on a witch hunt.
“The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society,” Atkinson told the U.K.’s Radio Times, reported by Variety Magazine. “It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘canceled.’”
Atkinson stressed that cancel culture impedes the free exchange of ideas because an online mob dictates what are acceptable opinions and burns people who think differently.
“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. … So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future,” Atkinson said.
“Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston decried the practice in an interview shared by the Associated Press last week.
Bryan Cranston hopes the new year brings changes to "cancel culture." pic.twitter.com/sSzq59ZOxk
— AP Entertainment (@APEntertainment) December 31, 2020
“We live in this cancel culture of people erring and doing wrong — either on purpose or by accident — and there’s less forgiveness in our world,” Cranston said. “I think we’re unfortunately in a coarser environment. I think our societies have become harder and less understanding, less tolerant, less forgiving.”
Indeed, just several days prior, the New York Times relished its role in ruining the life of an 18-year-old girl in Virginia for a rap-like slur caught in a three-second video four years ago, when she was 15. Mimi Groves, captured on a tape held until the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, has since lost her admission to the University of Tennessee along with a coveted spot on the school cheerleading team. Groves is now attending a local community college.