Amongst the ever-whooshing chaos of social media mobbing, I read a couple of brilliant comments on social medial mobbing last week that got lost in the fray of people on different sides of the political spectrum creating new and massive social media mobs.
The comments came from comedy veteran Rowan Atkinson who perfectly pointed out in a Radio Times interview the growing problems with “cancel culture.” In the interview, he explained how with algorithms deciding what people see it creates a “simplistic, binary view of society,” and the “for us or against us” notion of those who don’t agree with you view deserved to be cancelled.
“It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion,” Aktinson said, “but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.”
This isn’t the first time Aktinson has stood for “free speech.” Here’s a talk he gave in 2012 to Parliament as part of a “Defend Free Speech” Campaign:
Since then, the “cancel culture” has exploded into full-on censorship, which is exactly what Atkinson didn’t want to see. They might even try to “cancel” him, but somehow if they did I don’t think he gives a rat’s fuzzy behind about any of it.
As such, I’ll go against the wave of the cancel culture in support of what I wish was a more common trend of lifting up others in their works and abilities, regardless of their personal commentary. Atkinson is a great place to start. Whether or not he ever took a stand on free speech, you have to admit the man is mad talented. (RELATED: Take a Break and Decipher these Music Meme Riddles)
Atkinson is likely most known for his hapless alter ego, Mr. Bean, and to more serious British comedy lovers for his work as the title character(s) in the era-crossing series Blackadder. But he can also “play it straight.” This is something many who may excel in comedy haven’t been able to do.
This might be due to his approach, as he told The Independent in 2016 playing comedy and drama are simply using “slightly different muscles” with the same skill set, when he took on the role of mid-Century French detective Jules Maigret, based on the series of novels by Georges Simenon. If you’re a fan of crime drama and neo noir, I highly recommend checking it out:
If you want to see more of his drama skills, he will take the role of Adolph Hitler in the Season 6 of Peaky Blinders, which hopefully arrives this year. There’s no official trailer yet, but keep an eye open for it.
Atkinson will never win any beauty contests, but when you excel at physical comedy you have to be somewhat in shape, and Atkinson has another very active talent of which some people might not be aware: race car driving. Atkinson has owned, raced, sold — and crashed — millions in iconic supercars like the incredible McLaren F1 (there were only about 64 “street legal” copies produced).
He also had one of the fastest times on the infamous Top Gear test track’s “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car” segment, barely eked out later by actor Matt LeBlanc who later went on to the host the show for a short time:
One of the weirdest “rumors” surrounding Atkinson is one many celebrities would love to have said about them: he has an absurdly high IQ. Atkinson possesses an electrical engineering degree from Oxford, and is consistently listed as having one highest IQ’s in the entertainment world: 178. According to some lists, this puts him higher than Stephen Hawking at 160. Whether this extreme score is exact or not, it certainly is something to think about the next time we laugh at Mr. Bean who can’t even successfully attend a simple funeral:
I haven’t agreed with everything Atkinson has said in the past, which is as it should be. However, I will stand behind his continuous affirmation that even when words coming out of someone’s mouth go against my personal belief, they should have the right to say them without fear.
Thank you, Mr. Aktinson, for not only defending everyone’s right to say something “unpopular,” but for also finding ways to make people of all views and backgrounds laugh and smile, even while hardly saying anything at all.