Against all odds, a white man has said a tolerable thing about cancel culture. During a recent appearance on Good Morning Britain, per a clip shared by the Independent, Seth Rogen talked about the often defensive way that fellow comedians have responded to comments about their jokes aging poorly. “To me, when I see comedians complaining about this kind of thing, I don’t understand what they’re complaining about,” Rogen said. “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. To me, it’s not worth complaining about to the degree I see other comedians complaining about.”
When host Susanna Reid asked about controversial jokes from his past movies in particular, Rogen said, “There are certain jokes that for sure have not aged well, but I think that’s the nature of comedy.” He added, “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.”
In another recent interview with the Sunday Times, Rogen addressed a joke he made on a 2014 episode of Saturday Night Live about friend and frequent collaborator James Franco propositioning an underage girl on Instagram. He said he now regrets making light of the accusations against Franco and that “it was a terrible joke, honestly.” Earlier this month, Rogen said he doesn’t plan to work with Franco following numerous allegations of sexual misconduct against the actor.
In recent years, there have been far too many times when public figures have invoked “cancel culture” to evade accountability for legitimate criticism. Andrew Cuomo cried “cancel culture” amid calls for his resignation after allegations of sexual harassment. J.K. Rowling has repeatedly used the phrase when accused of transphobia. Even Mr. Bean equated valid critiques with “a medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.” So Rogen’s recent comments are particularly refreshing; they show how simple it can be to just acknowledge that something you once thought was funny actually isn’t, and to apologize and try to do better. Criticism is “one of the things that goes along with being an artist,” Rogen added during his Good Morning Britain interview. “If you don’t like that, then don’t be a comedian anymore.”