Seth Rogen. (Amy Sussman/FilmMagic)
Seth Rogen has hit out against comedians who whine about so-called “cancel culture” to accept that some jokes just age terribly.
Or, you know, were never exactly funny in the first place.
The 39-year-old actor and filmmaker told talk show Good Morning Britain on Tuesday (25 May) that he has long since accepted that not all jokes will stand the test of time.
Some stand-up comedians, he said, seem almost relentless in refusing to accept that times have changed – and cry cancel culture when faced with a reckoning.
But Rogen is not among them, he stressed, acknowledging that there are jokes in his own films he feels would make some viewers “uncomfortable” today.
“There are certain jokes that for sure have not aged well, but I think that’s the nature of comedy,” Rogen told host Susanna Reid.
“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.”
When it comes to these poorly-aged jokes, Rogen said he neither complains about them nor thinks of them as a “big deal”. A joke reaching its expiry date is not, he said, an example of “cancel culture”.
“To me, when I see comedians complaining about this kind of thing, I don’t understand what they’re complaining about,” he 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.”
Seth Rogen: ‘I’ve never made a joke that’s outwardly horrific’
He continued: “Getting 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.
“To me, it’s not worth complaining about to the degree I see other comedians complaining about.”
Comedians such as Kevin Hart have weathered criticism for such jokes in the past – homophobic jokes on Hart’s Twitter profile prompted a firestorm of criticism in 2019.
Does Rogen need to perhaps scrub his own Twitter page of any problematic jokes himself? Probably not, he said.
“I was never a comedian that made jokes that were truly designed to target groups that were subjugated in some way,” the Pineapple Express star explained.
“Have we done that without realising 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.
“But in my career, I’ve never made a joke that’s outwardly horrific in some way, and if you have, I would question why you did that.
“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.”
Rogen has previously apologised for the homophobic jokes in his early films, such as in 2005’s The 40-Year-Old-Virgin and 2007’s Superbad.
Over time, he reflected, his filmmaking has involved less punching down when it comes to humour.
“I think if you actually care, then it’s easy,” he told GQ in 2019.
“We do not want people to feel bad when they’re watching our movie”