Bill Maher Bemoans 'Cancel Culture' Surrounding 'Woke' Olympics

Bill Maher has hit out at the impact of what he branded "cancel culture" at the Tokyo Olympics.

The comedian and talk show host slammed the Games in his closing monologue on the latest episode of HBO's Real Time.

He recalled how, last April, he had branded the theme of the 2021 Academy Awards "we dare you to be entertained" after a show in which he felt producers refused to let viewers take a break from "thinking about sad things and bad people in the world." He suggested the Olympics was following a similar route.

Maher then cast the spotlight on several instances of what he perceived as "woke" culture gone wrong at these Olympics, including the firing of a director over a Holocaust joke made during a stand-up routine decades ago.

"Context is everything," he argued. "Obviously it didn't strike people as beyond the pale at the time."

Maher added, for "further context" that "Mel Brooks wrote one of the most successful musicals of all time around the song 'Springtime for Hitler'" a reference to the hit show The Producers.

The comedian said: "Young people have to stop flattering themselves that they're Nostradamus and would have foreseen, had they been around then, everything that's unacceptable now."

He went on to cite another example of a musical director who was fired from his role with the Olympics after a 1994 interview emerged in which he admitted to being a bully at school.

"Remember when your teacher used to try to scare you, they'd say, 'You know, this is going to go down on your permanent record?' No longer an empty threat now," Maher quipped.

Other examples cited during the seven-minute takedown included a director at the Olympics who was fired over making a fat joke in private and a report from the Associated Press in which it was suggested the inclusion of surfing in the Olympics was an example of cultural appropriation.

"This is called a purge," Maher told viewers in response.

"It's a mentality that belongs in Stalin's Russia. How bad does this atmosphere we are living in have to get before people who say cancel culture is overblown admit that it is, in fact, an insanity that is swallowing up the world."

"That is not a conservative position, my friends, my politics have not changed. But I am reacting to politics that have.

"This is another example of how the woke invert the very thing that used to make the liberals liberal. Snitches and b******? That's not being liberal."

How bad does this atmosphere we're living in have to get before the people who say cancel culture is overblown admit that it is in fact an insanity that is swallowing up the world? #WokeOlympics pic.twitter.com/P9rJNs6nrs

— Bill Maher (@billmaher) July 31, 2021

Maher specifically took issued with the idea of cultural appropriation.

"Of all the violations of the woke penal code, cultural appropriation just might be the dumbest of all," he said.

"Most of human history is a horror story, but the good parts are about different groups coming together and sharing. It's sort of the whole point of the Olympics."

The Real Time host also rejected the notion that change is synonymous with progress.

"Newer doesn't automatically mean better, this new idea that each culture must remain in its own separate silo is not better and it's not progress," he said.

"In fact, it's messing with one of the few ideas that still makes this melting point called America great."

He also insisted "not everything is about oppression" citing several the K-pop band BTS as an example of cultural exchange that have gone in the other direction

"We live in a world where straight actors are told they can't play gay roles and a white novelists aren't allowed to imagine what it's like to be a Mexican immigrant," Maher lamented.

"Even though trying to inhabit the life of someone else is almost the definition of empathy, the bedrock of liberalism."

A video of Maher's monologue has already been viewed almost 900,000 times on Twitter and retweeted over 5,000 times by followers.

The comedian's monologue drew praise from several noted conservative voices, who praised him for his views on the topic.

Conservative radio host Chris Stigall shared the clip, writing: "You simply don't find liberals calling out their own as Maher often does these days. He's no conservative. He despises my politics, but that's ok. I can respect intellectual honesty on display."

Music video director and Republican congressional candidate Robby Starbuck, quoted the video, writing "Before this is all over I think we might convince Bill Maher to turn entirely on the Democratic Party. He knows deep down that the party from 20 years ago just simply doesn't exist anymore. It's time to stop pretending they do Bill. Times have changed, leave them to save America."

Candace Owens, meanwhile, shared the video alongside the comment: "This is great. Woke people are cancer cells to progress."

Piers Morgan also shared the clip, describing it as the "best 7 minutes of television this year."

"Thank you, Mr Maher, for being an ongoing voice of liberal reason in this increasingly insane illiberal woke world," he added.

Newsweek has reached out to Olympics organizers for comment.

Bill Maher at an Oscars afterparty.
Bill Maher at the 2020 Vanity Fair Oscar Party - the comedian has hit out at the organizers of the Olympics for following the example of the Academy Awards. Matt Winkelmeyer/VF20/WireImage/Getty