“Cancel culture” is a term used to describe the mass shaming or condemnation of individuals (often celebrities) who have done or said something that has been construed as offensive.
Rock made the comments while appearing on The Breakfast Club radio show earlier this week, after he was asked how “cancel culture” had impacted his comedy.
“It’s weird when you’re a comedian because when you’re a comedian, when the audience doesn’t laugh, we get the message. You don’t really have to cancel us because we get the message. They’re not laughing,” said the former Saturday Night Live star. “Our feelings hurt. When we do something and people aren’t laughing, we get it.
“I don’t understand why people feel the need to go beyond that, you know what I mean?” he continued. “Honestly, to me, it’s a disrespect. It’s people disrespecting the audience like, ‘oh, you think you know more than the audience?’
“The audience knows more than everybody, OK. You know but hey, some things don’t need to be said.”
Rock said that the fear of being criticised for problematic remarks has resulted in a lack of risk-taking among comedians, as well as “unfunny comedians” and “unfunny” content across film and TV.
“Some people need to be looked out for,” he added, “I definitely understand that. But not letting comedians work is, you know — what happens is everybody gets safe and when everybody gets safe and nobody tries anything, things get boring.”
“Everybody’s scared to make a move,” said Rock. “That’s not a place to be. You know, we should have the right to fail because failure, failure is a part of art.”
Rock’s latest project is a starring role in the Saw sequel Spiral, out in cinemas now.