A dream show for Bill Maher Friday dwelled for a big chunk of the hour on his favorite topic, cancel culture, with two likeminded panelists egging each other on in defense of would-be Teen Vogue editor Alexi McCammond and irritation at Turner Classic’s “reframed” movies.
“I don’t want to talk about cancel culture every week, but I don’t think people understand how much this is a tsunami and how fast the goalposts change, almost on a weekly basis,” the comedian ranted on HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher. “It’s not just what you do but anything you’ve ever done. It’s not just about what you say but what you listen to, what you order, who you say you like, any sort of association.”
He compared the current climate with the 1950s Hollywood blacklist. “People go to parties now and they’re like, ‘Can I talk? I don’t know your girlfriend, she might be woke.’”
“They shouldn’t have fired her,” he said, referring to the 27-year old McCammond, who this week resigned a great new gig before it even started atop Teen Vogue amidst controversy over tweets she sent in high school. “People talk shit in private, we can’t legislate that away… For f-cks’s sake,” said Maher.
“She lovely,” said former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Libertarian journalist and Reason editor-at-large Nick Gillespie bashed corporate America for buckling every time to avoid controversy. “It is a warped ideology and it’s taking the place of religion,” Gillespie said. “People who are like, ‘I am hurt when I hear something that offends me,’ that it’s the equivalent of violence. Words are not the equivalent of violence.”
Maher had some fun with Turner Classic Movies’ decision to “reframe” classic films with its rotating hosts. “They have to have a guy on and give a speech about movies you used to just enjoy… because you understood that times change, people change and mores change. It used to be called evolution, now it’s called problematic.” The films include Gone with the Wind and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even “My Fair Lady is too rough for them. It was too corny for me when I was ten. My father wanted me to go see it and I wouldn’t.”
He mock-warned about other classics: “Sleeping Beauty — a prince kisses an unconscious woman without consent; The Wizard of Oz — a powerful woman of color is murdered by a rural white girl; Psycho — inaccurately portrays the lives of the vast majority of transgender motel owners; Rosemary’s Baby — fails to present Planned Parenthood as a viable option; Jaws — portrays white people as victims; The Graduate — depicts a problematic age discrepancy that you can’t blame on the man.”
Maher couldn’t resist a dig at Oscar best-picture nods announced Monday: “The leading contenders are Nomandland, Minari and Sound of Metal. So for theaters trying to figure out how to reopen at 15% capacity, I think we found an answer.
Or at at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex: With “the surge of migrants at the border, the authorities say we cannot take any more unskilled foreigners who don’t even seem like they want to work. We already have Meghan and Harry.”
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.