What Celebrities From Kevin Hart To Johnny Depp And Lizzo Have Said About ‘Cancel Culture’

Kevin Hart on Don't F**k This Up.
(Image credit: Netflix)

“Cancel culture” may have started out with the intention of ensuring that people were held accountable for offensive actions or behavior, but the practice of “canceling” someone has always been a controversial one. This has seemingly been particularly true for celebrities, many of whom have lost jobs and income as a result of such displays of public outcry. Despite if or how they’ve been affected by cancel culture, a number of famous faces, including Kevin Hart, Kim Kardashian, Lizzo and Johnny Depp have used their respective platforms to share their views on the phenomenon.

While social media has been a huge tool for putting certain behaviors on display in the court of public opinion, it’s also been helpful in continuing the dialogue about what we’re trying to accomplish in doing so. Over the years, the effectiveness of “canceling” people has often been called into question, and everyone’s got an opinion about what cancel culture means in regards to free speech and censorship. Celebrities in all corners of the entertainment world have spoken out, so let’s take a look at what some of them have said about cancel culture.

Lizzo on Saturday Night Live

(Image credit: NBC Universal)


Lizzo seemingly needed no reason to speak her mind on cancel culture early in 2023. The self-love-promoting singer took to Twitter to share why she thinks the practice has become “misused and misdirected.” Her full statement: 

This may be a random time to say this but it’s on my heart... cancel culture is appropriation. There was real outrage from truly marginalized people and now it’s become trendy, misused and misdirected. I hope we can phase out of this & focus our outrage on the real problems.

Many of the commenters agreed, saying the focus should be put back on accountability. 

Joe Rogan talking into a microphone on his podcast.

(Image credit: Joe Rogan Experience)

Joe Rogan

It wasn’t just Joe Rogan who experienced backlash in February 2022, but Spotify as well, when the UFC commentator and TV personality was accused of spreading misinformation about COVID-19 and the vaccine, as well as using a racial slur in multiple episodes of his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. Rogan said the efforts to cancel him backfired, telling British pundit Douglas Murray (per the NY Post): 

It’s interesting, my subscriptions went up massively — that’s what’s crazy. During the height of it all, I gained 2 million subscribers.

Spotify does not disclose its podcasts’ subscriber numbers but THR sources said Joe Rogan’s show has had steadily increasing numbers but didn’t spike due to any one event. 

Kevin Hart in Real Husbands of Hollywood

(Image credit: BET)

Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart spoke about cancel culture in 2021, noting how he thinks things have gone too far, but he agrees that there should be consequences to people who inflict real damage. In his words: 

If somebody has done something truly damaging then, absolutely, a consequence should be attached. But when you just talk about… nonsense? When you’re talking, ‘Someone said! They need to be taken [down]!’ Shut the fuck up! What are you talking about?

The Hart to Heart host was the subject of controversy in 2018, when old tweets resurfaced with homophobic language, causing Kevin Hart to step down as host of the 2019 Academy Awards. When he spoke on the subject in 2021, he said people need to be allowed to learn from their mistakes. He continued: 

When did we get to a point where life was supposed to be perfect? Where people were supposed to operate perfectly all the time? I don’t understand. I don’t expect perfection from my kids. I don’t expect it from my wife, friends, employees. Because, last I checked, the only way you grow up is from fucking up. I don’t know a kid who hasn’t fucked up or done some dumb shit.

The assertion that people aren't going to be perfect and need to be allowed to make mistakes seems to be one commonly made.

David Spade in Grown Ups.

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

David Spade

Famed Saturday Night Live comedian David Spade opened up in 2022 about his thoughts on comedy in the age of cancel culture, saying: 

When people want to come in and stop (jokes) and not even say ‘don’t do it’ but ruin your life. It’s very hard for me to understand that people would want to do that to other people. I know you get offended. I know you’re hurt, but really taking people down? There’s some thirst for it and it’s hard because people have families and lives. In the comedy world, you’re really ultimately, there’s no malice behind it. You’re just trying to get a laugh. So if you’re saying something, it doesn’t even mean you mean it. You’re not like screaming it at a protest ‘this is what I really believe.’ Hey, I’m saying this because you don’t think I’ll say it. And it’s funny and then we all laugh.

David Spade admitted he’s not typically one who “starts a lot of shit” with his own comedy. 

Ricky Gervais on Extras

(Image credit: BBC/HBO)

Ricky Gervais

British comedian Ricky Gervais shared a similar opinion back in a 2020 interview with Metro. As a comedian who does stir the pot a bit more, it's no surprise he's commented on the phenomenon, noting that everyone has a different idea of what cancel culture means, and some people take it too far. The Office star said:  

If it is choosing not to watch a comedian because you don’t like them, that’s everyone’s right. But when people are trying to get someone fired because they don’t like their opinion about something that’s nothing to do with their job, that’s what I call cancel culture and that’s not cool. You turning off your own TV isn’t censorship. You trying to get other people to turn off their TV, because you don’t like something they’re watching, that’s different. Everyone’s allowed to call you an asshole, everyone’s allowed to stop watching your stuff, everyone’s allowed to burn your DVDs, but you shouldn’t have to go to court for saying a joke that someone didn’t like. And that’s what we get dangerously close to.

He said everyone doesn’t have to agree with everyone else, but people who think others don’t have the right to say something they don’t agree with are opposing free speech. 

Johnny Depp in Murder on the Orient Express

(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp’s defamation trial against Amber Heard was one of the biggest pop culture moments of 2022, and in the midst of his legal battle, he issued a warning about cancel culture, saying: 

It’s so far out of hand now that I can promise you that no one is safe. Not one of you. No one out that door. No one is safe. It takes one sentence and there’s no more ground, the carpet has been pulled. It’s not just me that this has happened to, it’s happened to a lot of people. This type of thing has happened to women, men. Sadly at a certain point they begin to think that it’s normal. Or that it’s them. When it’s not.

Johnny Depp was forced to step down from the Fantastic Beasts franchise amongst abuse accusations in the years-long legal battle with his ex-wife. 

screenshot kuwtk

(Image credit: E!)

Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian has had her share of scandals over the years, but in 2021 she called cancel culture “ridiculous,” telling the podcast Honesty (per People): 

If I worried about every last thing that someone said and I had to try to change it, then I would never be me. Anyone wouldn't be them. That's why I think cancel culture is the most ridiculous thing, because I really do believe ... in rehabilitation and freedom of speech. I've never really been into cancel culture.

She went on to say that if we cancel someone for past behavior, we’re “not inviting them into the conversation to really understand.” 

Sharon Stone appears on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(Image credit: CBS)

Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone didn’t mince words when discussing cancel culture on the Just Jenny podcast in 2021. She called it the “stupidest thing I have ever seen,” pointing out that we can all grow from listening to different perspectives. The actress said: 

I think cancel culture is the stupidest thing I have ever seen happen. I think when people say things that they feel and mean, and it’s offensive to you, it’s a brilliant opportunity for everyone to learn and grow and understand each other. We all come from different ages, different cultures, different backgrounds, different things, and have had different experiences, different traumas, different upbringings, different parents, different religious backgrounds, different everything. Give people an opportunity to discuss things before you wipe out their entire person over a statement or a comment or a misunderstanding.

She further implored people to “stop being so small” and “grow some empathy.” 

Megan Fox with lighter on tongue in Jennifer's Body

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Megan Fox

Megan Fox has spoken about being “objectified” in certain jobs during her career, but when fans went after director Michael Bay in 2020, the actress defended the Transformers director and publicly stated her distaste for canceling people: 

It’s not something I’ve been longing to speak out on. But I don’t agree with cancel culture, and I don’t want people to get ‘canceled’ for something they didn’t do. While some of my working relationships were very challenging, that one specifically wasn’t one where I was sexually harassed or suffered, so I felt like I needed to defend him and clarify that. I have plenty of stories, but they don’t involve Michael. I really appreciated the support coming from people, but I also didn’t want to live with something that wasn’t the full truth.

The actress appeared to note her fans’ good intentions, but didn’t want the director to face consequences for something he didn’t do. 

Bryan Cranston in Your Honor.

(Image credit: Showtime)

Bryan Cranston

In January 2021, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston appealed for more forgiveness in the world and less canceling, telling the AP

We live in this ‘cancel culture’ of people erring and doing wrong — either on purpose or by accident — and there’s less forgiveness in our world. I think we’re unfortunately in a coarser environment. I think our societies have become harder and less understanding, less tolerant, less forgiving. Where does forgiveness live in our society? Where can we accept someone’s behavior if they are contrite, if they are apologetic and take responsibility?

He implored people to remember that asking for forgiveness is a human strength, not a weakness. 

Rowan Atkinson in Man vs. Bee

(Image credit: Netflix)

Rowan Atkinson

Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson blamed social media for today’s society of “us vs. them” mentality, telling the Radio Times (via Deadline) in 2021: 

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled.’ It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn.

He said that thought fills him with fear about the future. 

Alec Baldwin as Alan Hunley in Mission: Impossible - Fallout

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin shared his thoughts on cancel culture in a lengthy video on Instagram, saying the situation was getting out of hand. While he admitted there are people who deserve to be punished, we shouldn’t punish everyone the same way, pointing out that “even the criminal justice system recognizes that.” He continued: 

I think cancel culture is creating more problems than it solves. It’s like trolling. It’s like a giant mile-long net and you’re catching a lot of people, many of them deserve it and a few of them, more than a few, who don’t. Or they don’t deserve to have their careers and their lives destroyed.

He seemed to fall in line with a number of other celebrities who said people who get “canceled” don’t deserve to have their whole lives ruined. 

Kelly Osbourne on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

(Image credit: CBS)

Kelly Osbourne

Kelly Osbourne shared her 2 cents on the phenomenon in 2021, after her mother Sharon Osbourne parted ways with The Talk following allegations of racism. Kelly said: 

I didn't know what was really going on in this country because I just thought that simply being not racist was enough. It’s not, it's actually not, you have to be actively not racist and educate yourself and learn, and don't be afraid to make a mistake, everybody's so afraid of cancel culture I say fuck cancel culture. It’s all about counsel culture… educate people, teach people… a gentle nudge in the right direction is so much better than a public execution.

Ozzy Osbourne’s younger daughter pointed out that nobody feels like they can make a mistake because of what the online chatter might do to their careers and lives. 

Phillipa Soo in Hamilton.

(Image credit: Disney)

Phillipa Soo

Rather than expressing her opinion about cancel culture, Hamilton actress Phillipa Soo shared her advice for those who have been “canceled,” imploring them to listen to what is being said and learn from the experience. She said on Twitter: 

Cancel culture: If you are 'cancelled' but do not wish to be, you must WORK to EARN back people’s respect by owning up to the thing that cancelled you in the first place, LISTENING to others, EDUCATING yourself, and ADVOCATING on behalf of the people that you have offended/harmed

In the opinion of many celebrities, it seems cancel culture may not be achieving the desired outcome in holding people accountable for offensive actions and statements. Hopefully we can continue figuring out the appropriate action to take to effect real change, and it seems many celebrities think that listening to each other and acknowledging that people make mistakes is one step in the right direction. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Heidi Venable is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend, a mom of two and a hard-core '90s kid. She started freelancing for CinemaBlend in 2020 and officially came on board in 2021. Her job entails writing news stories and TV reactions from some of her favorite prime-time shows like Grey's Anatomy and The Bachelor. She graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in Journalism and worked in the newspaper industry for almost two decades in multiple roles including Sports Editor, Page Designer and Online Editor. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.