Dawn French takes aim at cancel culture and offers a stark reality check for J.K. Rowling

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
4 Min Read

Cancel culture has once again sparked debate. This time, it’s the iconic British actress and comedian Dawn French who has stepped into the fray, asserting that cancel culture has “forced people into corners,” rendering many silent out of fear rather than encouraging open dialogue.

In a recent Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place podcast episode, French recounted an exchange that underscored her frustrations with the current climate. Referring to a conversation about the transgender controversy surrounding author JK Rowling, French revealed how she was chided for her lack of awareness on certain terminology. She recounted, “I went, ‘Oh, OK, because I know JK a bit. And she said, ‘Yeah, because she used this terminology and we’re not doing that, it’s unacceptable’.” French’s response of “Oh, oh, I don’t even know that term. What is that?” was met with the directive to “catch up,” a phrase that she found unhelpful and indicative of the pressure to conform.

Dawn French warns about the dangers of Cancel Culture

Expressing her belief in acknowledging one’s ignorance, French stated, “It’s very powerful to say that, especially when you don’t know. That’s better than pretending you do know. It’s certainly better than forming an opinion about something you don’t know.” This sentiment echoes her call for open dialogue and understanding rather than immediate condemnation.

Dawn French speaks about such issues on Fearne Cotton’s podcast, “Happy Place”.

French, known for her roles in iconic British TV shows such as The Vicar of Dibley, also reflected on the broader implications of cancel culture. She lamented the dwindling space for robust debate and the increasing intolerance towards differing viewpoints.We’re living the opposite of that – we’re massively intolerant, quick to blame, litigation, trolling and all of this dreadful stuff,” she observed.

Drawing from her own experiences, including her involvement in the Harry Potter franchise, French highlighted the significant consequences faced by those who express controversial opinions. She acknowledged Rowling’s ordeal, noting, “Rowling has ‘paid a huge price’ for sharing her views.”

French’s comments come amidst ongoing tensions within the entertainment industry, exemplified by the rift between Rowling and some of the Harry Potter actors, notably Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson. These tensions reflect broader societal divisions and highlight the challenges of navigating complex issues in an increasingly polarised world.

Comedian also speaks up on JK Rowling’s row.

It’s impossible if what we’ve got to do is hunker back into our positions, defend them by spitting and being furious and then blaming and cancelling,” French remarked.

It’s very powerful to say [‘I don’t know’], especially when you don’t know. That’s better than pretending you do know. It’s certainly better than forming an opinion about something you don’t know,” she reiterated, urging for humility and openness in discourse.

The actress and comedian plays the role of the “Fat Lady” in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

“As women especially,” she emphasised, “the last thing we should do is shut up,” underscoring the importance of amplifying diverse voices and perspectives.

It’s not the first time French has spoken out on these issues. She has consistently advocated for tolerance, understanding, and engaging in meaningful dialogue in previous interviews and public appearances. She aptly summarised, “I am a massive advocate of robust debate that might change your mind – that’s the best thing in the world.”

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