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Ricky Gervais: Cancel culture has made people lose their sense of irony

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Ricky Gervais believes that The Office would “suffer” if it was released now because cancel culture has caused viewers to lose “their sense of irony and context.”

Gervais’ Bafta-winning series debuted on BBC Two in 2001 and saw the comedian, 59, star as hapless manager David Brent, who regularly made tone deaf, offensive remarks to his colleagues.

Looking back on the show in an interview with Times Radio on Friday, Gervais said audiences would take things too “literally” if the office was released now, “even though [the jokes] were clearly ironic.”


“Now [the show] would suffer because people would take things literally,” he said. “There are these outrage mobs who take things out of context.

“This was a show about everything – it was about difference, it was about sex, race, all the things that people fear to even be discussed or talked about now, in case they say the wrong thing and they are cancelled.”

He went on to claim that “the BBC have got more and more careful” about political correctness in comedy.

Gervais argued that The Office was “clearly ironic” (BBC )

“People want to keep their jobs, so would worry about some of the subjects and jokes, even though they were clearly ironic and we were laughing at this buffoon being uncomfortable around difference,” he said.

“I think if this was put out now, some people have lost their sense of irony and context.”

Gervais, who has previously faced criticism for the portrayal of disabled people in his show Derek, argued that there is “no nuance or discussion” about comedy “any more, it’s just fallen into two tribes of people screaming.”

“I genuinely think I don’t do anything that deserves to be cancelled,” he said. “Some people now don’t care about the argument or the issue, they just want to own someone, they want to win the argument.”

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Hear a 21-Year-Old Bonnie Raitt Cover Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’

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Since writing “Woodstock” inside a New York City hotel room, Joni Mitchell’s counterculture anthem has been covered repeatedly throughout the last 50 years, most famously with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s electrifying version on Déjà Vu. 

Now, a folky rendition by Bonnie Raitt has been unearthed, recorded at a March 27th, 1971, performance at Syracuse University’s Jabberwocky Club. Raitt was just 21 and eight months away from dropping her self-titled debut. Unlike many covers of Mitchell’s spiritual song, Raitt’s is stripped-down and acoustic, using solely her voice to channel the muddy festival on Max Yasgur’s farm. Her register is akin to Mitchell’s, soaring through the octaves with each line: “And I dreamed I saw the bombers/Riding shotgun in the sky/And they were turning into butterflies/Above our nation.”

Prior to closing its doors in 1985, the Jabberwocky Club hosted James Brown, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn, and more. The campus’ FM radio station, WAER, would broadcast the live performances in New York. Raitt’s set has been bootlegged, but is extremely rare.

While in conversation with Brandi Carlile for Rolling Stone‘s Musicians on Musicians package last year, Raitt discussed Mitchell and the songwriter’s return to the public eye. “I don’t get to see her very much,” she said. “We had some classic hangs at my house in the Seventies, one time with Jackson [Browne] and Graham [Nash]. It’s just a thrill for me to be back in a musical setting with her.”

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‘Clueless’ Series Reboot Focused on Dionne in Development at Peacock (EXCLUSIVE)

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Peacock has landed the series reboot of “Clueless” centered on the character Dionne for development, Variety has learned exclusively.

The untitled comedy series is described a baby pink and bisexual blue-tinted, tiny sun-glasses wearing, oat milk latte and Adderall-fueled look at what happens when queen bee Cher disappears and her lifelong number two Dionne steps into Cher’s vacant Air Jordans. How does Dionne deal with the pressures of being the new most popular girl in school, while also unraveling the mystery of what happened to her best friend?

News of the show’s development was first reported last October, though no network or streaming service was attached at the time. Jordan Reddout and Gus Hickey will serve as writers and executive producers on the project. Corrinne Brinkerhoff, Scott Rudin, the film’s producer Robert Lawerence, Eli Bush, and Tiffany Grant will also executive produce. CBS Television Studios will produce.

The film version of “Clueless” debuted in 1995 starring Alicia Silverstone as Cher and Stacey Dash as Dionne. It is now considered a cult classic. A TV adaptation aired on ABC and then UPN from 1996 until 1999 for three seasons. Rachel Blanchard played Cher in the series with Dash reprising the role of Dionne. In 2018, “Clueless: The Musical” debuted onstage in New York.

Reddout and Hickey’s past credits include the NBC revival of “Will & Grace” as well as shows like “The Muppets” and “Grown-ish.”

They are repped by Paradigm and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

Brinkerhoff has a longstanding relationship with CBS Television Studios, having created the CBS series “American Gothic” and worked on shows like “The Good Wife,” “Elementary,” “Jane the Virgin” and “No Tomorrow” for the studio.

She is repped by UTA and Hansen Jacobson.

This is now the latest example of a female-focused 90’s staple that will get a fresh take focused on a Black character. It was previously announced that Tracee Ellis Ross is set to voice the lead character in the animated comedy “Jodie,” which is a spinoff of “Daria.” That show is currently set up at Comedy Central after originally being in the works at MTV.

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Before the Fire Reverse-Engineered a Pandemic Script

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Before the Fire director Charlie Buhler and writer-star Jenna Lyng Adams didn’t have millions of dollars when they started work on their sci-fi drama, but they did have access to a few things they knew could be very cinematic — planes, Humvees, a farm, and a house that needed burning down.

In the purest DIY, indie filmmaking fashion, they reverse-engineered Adams’ script. And because Adams had long been fascinated by end-of-the-world scenarios, they happened to make a film about a pandemic.

A pandemic that bears striking similarities to COVID-19.

“When I wrote this movie, I didn’t see this happening realistically in this world,” said Adams. “A lot of it was guessing.”

She made some very good guesses – about transportation troubles, panic, people stockpiling weapons, and even the current fight over the U.S. Postal Service.

But even the decision to make a pandemic the focus of the film came out of DIY necessity.

“We wanted to create something that would cause worldwide upheaval, worldwide chaos, that would also be invisible — and therefore cheap,” says Buhler in the latest MovieMaker Interviews podcast. She and Adams walk us through every aspect of shooting Before the Fire in the episode, which you can listen to on Apple or Spotify or right here:

Adams and Buhler had just premiered their film at the Conquest Film & Creativity Festival in March when the world began shutting down, in a way very similar to the way the world shuts down in the opening scenes of Before the Fire.

Early in the film, Ava Boone (Adams), a successful TV actress, is trying to catch a flight out of Los Angeles with her boyfriend. Then LAX abruptly cancels all flights. Through a very dramatic turn of events — involving one of those planes — she ends up being shipped back to her very rural hometown, which is full of secrets she fled years ago. Everyone knows her as Amanda, just another reminder of the past she wanted to escape.

Jenna Lyng Adams in Before the Fire, written by Adams and directed by Charlie Buhler.

“The story of Before the Fire began when Charlie and I asked ourselves: what resources do we have access to?” Adams says in the press notes for the film. “We have talented friends and big-hearted families willing to dig in and get their hands dirty. We have acres and acres of beautiful farmland, private planes, National Guard Humvees, and a house condemned to burn. The story was then reverse engineered to fit these epic set pieces, and I began weaving characters into the potential storyline.”

In some versions of the script, Buhler and Adams went deep into Ava/Amanda’s past trauma. But they decided the film was better without it.

“Have you ever heard of the Jaws solution? They were shooting Jaws, and they were looking at the shark, and it just wasn’t scary,” says Buhler. “It was a little animatronic, and it wasn’t as scary as it needed to be. So the solution was to not show the shark. And so you rarely see the shark in Jaws. And there’s something about not seeing that shark that’s way scarier than anything you can see onscreen. Because your brain will fill in the gaps.”

Before the Fire, directed by Charlie Buhler and written by and starring Jenna Lyng Adams, is available now on virtual cinemas and on digital from Dark Sky Films.

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