B.J. Novak, a writer and co-star of The Office and a New York Times bestselling novelist and filmmaker, visited Bill Maher on Real Time on Friday night.
In order to promote Vengeance, an independent screwball about an opportunistic New York City journalist and podcaster who travels to red-state Texas to look into the death of a former flame, Novak appeared on the HBO program. So it was only natural that Maher tried to engage Novak in conversation about a variety of contentious cultural themes relating to the country’s political divide.
I don’t agree with you politically, but I like you personally. How can we accomplish it on a national level collectively? Maher asked Novak to start things off.
The calm Novak explained, “In my view, it’s more about emotion than debate, and I think it’s about stopping ourselves from picking at the scab of everything that we disagree on. Twitter is a medicine for that, and when we’re apart behind screens, we bite the canker sore of the things we disagree on and pick at the scab. And if we all strive to do that less and instead concentrate on things like comedy, sports, art, or anything else, or just sitting down to eat, I think it is a start.
Novak received applause from the audience, which caused Maher to awkwardly smirk.
Then, Maher delved into the idea that Twitter-happy viewers are somehow censoring Hollywood products and not the other way around. This is known as “cancel culture,” in this context.
Maher said, “You know, you’ve written certain episodes of… The Office that they don’t air now. Lately we’ve been talking a lot about it on this program, and we’re going to talk about it tonight. I see that Jamie Foxx’s newest film has been shelved; I assume he made it a while ago, but they won’t ever air it. They produce fewer comedies. You did manage to make a comedy out of something, but I’m sure you have to use extreme caution in a variety of situations. Due to the fact that it is so pointless to even try, they are making less. Where do you stand on that?
Novak wasn’t really sold on Maher’s hypothesis. “I think there is a distinction between the gatekeepers and the audience, and I think that as a stand-up, you see this personally. I believe that audiences are generally dejected,” he stated. They are intelligent individuals who are much more trustworthy than gatekeepers sometimes fear. Although the gatekeepers are concerned about the talk in their own circles, I believe audiences can be trusted to be quite intelligent.
Maher retorted, “But it’s not in the hands of the audience.
That’s what I’m saying, Novak retorted. “I’m saying, I don’t think the audiences are too sensitive is the problem. I believe that the issue is that some people worry that others are overly sensitive.
Maher was unable to speak.
Maher should have provided more background for the Office episode dispute. He was alluding to the “Diversity Day” episode of The Office that Comedy Central decided to leave out of an Office marathon on its network. This was obviously a choice taken by the gatekeepers and not the audience, as Novak asserted, given the program is still available for purchase and streaming.
The actor Jamie Foxx claims that his feature directorial debut, All-Star Weekend, was put on hold indefinitely because of concerns about Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of a Mexican in the movie. However, the film was actually shot back in 2016 and reportedly had Foxx playing a racist white cop and Downey Jr. The film was not finished in time for its initial release date in February 2018, which coincided with NBA All-Star weekend. Then, it was delayed a year to the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend, but it was still not finished in time. Later, the release of All-Star Weekend was postponed to late 2019 and then to 2021, but it now seems to be on hold. Whether this has to do with the movie’s quality or other things is unknown, but you can be sure that the company made the choice.
In addition to the movie’s evident post-production issues, Jeremy Piven also had second billing in All-Star Weekend, something Maher somewhat conveniently neglected to mention. A total of eight women have accused Piven of sexual assault between late 2017 and early 2018.
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