According to many celebrities, cancel culture is a plague of our times. Recently, Donald Glover trended on Twitter after he posted that he felt creators were too afraid to push limits these days. Billy Crystal says he feels the situation is a minefield. And now Seth Rogen has joined the commentary on cancel culture, but he’s taking a very different viewpoint. While promoting his book Yearbook on Good Morning Britain, he suggested his fellow comedians get over it.
Comedians feel the heat of cancel culture more than many other creators. They’re in a position where they are pushing themselves to make unexpected connections, and often, they say something that they might not have realized was offensive. On top of that, those with longstanding careers are forced to consider how a joke might age. What was considered appropriate in American culture in 1985 is not necessarily considered appropriate today. Is that an excuse for saying something audiences now recognize to be distasteful? Not really, not according to Seth Rogen. This is a bold statement considering his body of work, but he’s sticking by it.
“Jokes are not things that necessarily are built to last,” says Seth Rogen. “If you’ve made a joke that’s aged terribly, accept it. And if you don’t think it’s aged terribly, then say that.”
These seem like dangerous statements, like Seth Rogen is setting himself up to have the internet pull apart his movies and look for quotes that haven’t aged well, right? Shouldn’t all public figures be against cancel culture, since it’s something that threatens their careers? Often, when audiences are against cancel culture, it’s because they want to defend their favorite creators.
Seth Rogen addressed that during this conversation when he said that there are scenes in his body of work that wouldn’t make the cut today. He suggests that you have to own that, that a lot of this comes down to cultural aging, and that you have to accept that when you’re an entertainer/creators, this happens. It’s parts of the job, basically.
Seth Rogen isn’t the only entertainer defending cancel culture. James Gunn is the writer and director of Guardians of the Galaxy. He is a public figure who was canceled in a big way when he lost his job on his series with Marvel over content from old tweets of his. Since then, he signed on to DC to create The Suicide Squad and has repaired things with Marvel so he’s set to bring us Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. While you’d think that Gunn would be against cancel culture since it came for him so hard, he recently defended it in a series of tweets, where he said that people have the right to be offended by something and not want to be part of that anymore. He says that he may not agree with other people’s opinions, but he believes in their rights to have them.
It sounds like in this, James Gunn and Seth Rogen are in agreement. People can dislike you, and that’s okay. When you become a major public figure with a large audience, you encounter more of it than most of us can understand. Perhaps going through those experiences at such a high level over a number of years helps you become more comfortable speaking under the weight of cancel culture. Of course, there is also room to believe what Donald Glover suggested in his now-deleted tweets, where he said that many creators will bend under that weight, not feel safe to create, and we’ll be left with boring entertainment.