Complaining about so-called "cancel culture" — that pesky new trend of holding people accountable for their actions, or deciding "hey, maybe this old problematic thing is something I don't want to spend my money on" — has joined baseball and pearl-clutching about Lil Nas X as one of America's favorite pastimes. People are constantly feigning outrage about everything from the removal of "Mr." from a toy potato's packaging to switching an old Disneyland ride's theme from "magical Jim Crow South" to "relevant princess."
Now, whining about "getting canceled" has joined airline food as a favorite topic of comedians. That includes hacky online stand-ups upset about audiences not finding racism funny anymore and legends like Chris Rock, who claimed "cancel culture" is making comedy boring while accepting zero responsibility for the boring nature of pre-cancel-culture films like Head of State.
Seth Rogen has weathered his fair share of cancel-culture talk of late, having recently and publicly severed ties with longtime friend and collaborator James Franco after actress Charlyne Yi resurfaced sexual misconduct accusations. (Having collaborators distance themselves from you when credibly accused of being a creep is also considered "being canceled." See also: Louis CK.)
Yet Rogen has a surprisingly and refreshingly nuanced and blunt take on the matter of so-called cancel culture in comedy.
"There are certain jokes that for sure have not aged well, but I think that's the nature of comedy," Rogen told Good Morning Britain (via Insider) earlier this week when asked about jokes in his older films. "I think conceptually those movies are sound, and I think there's a reason they've lasted as far as people still watching and enjoying them today. Jokes are not things that necessarily are built to last."
Rogen goes on to express confusion about why comedians would be so riled up about being canceled for their jokes, imploring them to simply own their outdated jokes and move on.
"To me when I see comedians complaining about this kind of thing, I don't understand what they're complaining about. 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," he commented.
Rogen — who rose to prominence as part of Judd Apatow's crew of comedy performers in the early '00s — has always embraced the raunchier side of comedy. He has frequently acknowledged that many of the jokes in his films — from the "you know how I know you're gay" routine in The 40 Year Old Virgin to much of Superbad's plot involving getting a girl drunk enough to consent — wouldn't fly today.
"Those things are in our movies and they're out there, and they're things that I am more than happy to say that they have not aged well," he told GMB.
Despite so-called cancel culture allegedly laying waste to all things fun, Rogen's remained prominent, with a new memoir, Yearbook and a third season of The Boys —the gory and highly offensive superhero romp her produces — en route having neither been boring nor canceled by Amazon despite its rampant violence and antisocial behavior.
Which is to say, if the guy who made a movie featuring an extended food orgy filled with copulating stereotypes can embrace the fact that comedy evolves, maybe comedians can find something funnier than rape and racism to joke about.
Or, as Rogen succinctly put it to GMB: criticism is "one of the things that goes along with being an artist, and if you don't like that, then don't be a comedian anymore."
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