Seth Rogen talks cancel culture, says some comedians overreact rather than take responsibility for old jokes

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Seth Rogen downplayed the impact of cancel culture by arguing that some comedians are going a bit overboard in reckoning with past jokes that have not aged well. 

Rogen, 39, appeared on “Good Morning Britain” earlier this week to discuss his new book “Yearbook,” a collection of essays about his life. The hosts made sure to ask the comedic actor and writer about jokes from his past that have not aged well and may be considered offensive to modern audiences. 

Rather than balk or get defensive, Rogen was quick to take responsibility for “certain jokes” that he understands would not play well today. 

“There are certain jokes that for sure have not aged well, but I think that’s the nature of comedy,” Rogen said (via Insider). “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.”

Seth Rogen spoke out about cancel culture and reckoning with past jokes. 
(Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

The “Pineapple Express” actor went on to deride fellow comedians who rail against cancel culture when they’re taken to task over material they produced in the past. 

“To me when I see comedians complaining about this kind of thing, I don’t understand what they’re complaining about,” he continued. “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 noted that facing criticism for his work is simply something that goes hand-in-hand with being an artist, particularly one in comedy. 

“If you don’t like that, then don’t be a comedian anymore,” he said, adding: “To me, it’s not worth complaining about to the degree I see other comedians complaining about.”

In addition to past jokes from his movies, Rogen was asked if he would ever go back through his Twitter account and delete jokes and posts that have not aged well. Fortunately, the actor is confident that there’s nothing to scrub away. 

“I was never a comedian that made jokes that were truly designed to target groups that were subjugated in some way,” he explained.

He continued: “Have we done that without realizing it? Definitely. And 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.” 

The star concluded his thoughts on the matter by noting that he doesn’t believe comedians being taken to task over past material is an example of cancel culture. Instead, he sees it as an opportunity to show audiences that they’ve learned and grown as a performer and artist. 

“But in my Twitter, I’ve never made a joke that’s outwardly horrific in some way, and if you have, I would question why you did that,” he concluded. “Saying terrible things is bad, so if you’ve said something terrible, then it’s something you should confront in some way, shape, or form. I don’t think that’s cancel culture. That’s you saying something terrible if that’s what you’ve done.”

Seth Rogen was taken to task over his relationship with James Franco.
(Barry King/Getty Images)

Rogen was given the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to reckoning with past projects that hold a new context for viewers. Specifically, he was called out by “Disaster Artist” co-star Charlyne Yi for his continued association with James Franco after multiple women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. 

Franco has denied all the allegations, but Rogen explained that he no longer has any plans to work with Franco in the future after he was deemed an “enabler.” He addressed one of Yi’s complaints about him joking about his friend and creative collaborator’s allegations during a “Saturday Night Live” sketch. He also said he regrets saying in a 2018 interview that he would continue to work with Franco despite the allegations. 

“I do look back at a joke I made on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 2014 and I very much regret making that joke. It was a terrible joke, honestly,” he told The Sunday Times earlier in May. “And I also look back to that interview in 2018 where I comment that I would keep working with James, and the truth is that I have not and I do not plan to right now.”  

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