Graham Norton says that “erasing culture” is really just responsibility


The phrase “wipes out culture” has become a cliché that celebrities can cling to after making a controversial or offensive statement.

But Graham Norton doesn’t think this is the correct description for what really happens when fans criticize “deleted” people. The right word, he says, is “responsibility”.

Norton, the host of a BBC talk show, addressed the thorny topic of “erasing culture” at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this week. Speaking to interviewer Mariella Frostrup, Norton denounced the concept of “wiping out” anyone who still has a sizable platform to talk from.

“You read a lot of newspaper articles about people complaining about ‘wiping out culture’,” he told Frostrup. “Think, in which world are you wiped out? I’m reading your name in a newspaper, or you’re doing an interview about how awful it is to be deleted. ”

“I think [‘cancel culture’] it’s the wrong word, ”he continued. “I think the word should be responsibility.”

He went on to refer to John Cleese, the Monty Python veteran who has repeatedly criticized “wiping out the culture” and “waking up” fans asking comics to withdraw offensive material. Cleese has faced setbacks for controversial comedies in recent years, including a 2021 Hitler impression and slavery jokes made at the South by Southwest festival in March.

“It must be very difficult to be a man of a certain age who has been able to say what he likes for years, and now suddenly there is a certain responsibility,” Norton said after mentioning Cleese. “It is freedom of speech, but not without consequences”.

Frostrup asked Norton about “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, who did it claimed it was “canceled” for repeatedly voicing anti-transgender views. Norton, without mentioning Rowling’s name, said that, by “guy on television,” her voice – and the voices of other famous people like Rowling – are “artificially amplified” on topics they are not experts in.

“If people want to shed some light on these issues, and I hope they do, then talk to trans people,” he told Frostrup. “Talk to the parents of trans children. He talks to doctors, talks to psychiatrists. Talk to someone who can enlighten this in some way.

“Can we fight some fucking experts … rather than a man in a shiny pink suit?” she asked to the laughter of the audience.

Norton, an outspoken gay man, has been openly advocating for LGBTQ people’s rights for years and regularly uses his series and other interviews as a platform for those views. Speaking to the Sunday Times last year, Norton, who is also a judge at RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, said trans people “need to be protected rather than feared” and said it was a “big plus. “to know and love trans people.

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