“People shouldn’t be canceling each other. They should have a conversation.”
American author Bret Easton Ellis wholeheartedly opposes the growing notion of cancel culture, which he sees as dangerous to an open, liberal, democratic society.
“A group of people purporting to be on the side of the good telling other people what they can watch, listen to or see is absurd. It’s ridiculous. That’s not a free society!”
“I don’t understand it. I think it’s about power. I am not quite sure if the people really even care. I think it’s about virtue signaling. Showing how sensitive you are rather than really grappling with the problems inherent in the painting, in the song, in the film, or in the book. That’s a discussion. That’s a conversation people should have.”
“I think everybody is so literal-minded right now. That’s part of the problem. They can’t see something as something else. Metaphor seems to be missing in society.”
Ellis opposes the praxis of re-writing manuscripts from a different time to accommodate present discussions and standards. He also mentions instances where people have resisted group pressure within organizations to cancel, for example, authors or publications.
“I think what people need to do to fight cancel culture is to just say no. Simply say no.”
Bret Easton Ellis was born in 1964 in Los Angeles, California. He is a best-selling American novelist, screenwriter, short story writer, and social commentator whose writings portray, in his words, “the most pessimistic and ironic generation that has ever roamed the earth.”
He debuted with the 1985 bestseller Less Than Zero, a tale of disaffected, rich teenagers in Los Angeles while still an undergraduate student at Bennington College. Since then, he has published six more novels, including The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho (dubbed by Rolling Stone “the most controversial novel of the Nineties”), Glamorama, Lunar Park, Imperial Bedrooms and The Shards, as well as a collection of stories, The Informers. In 2020, he published his first work of nonfiction, White, a defense for the freedom of speech in the social-media age.
Ellis’ works have been translated into almost 30 languages. Four of his books—Less Than Zero, The Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, and The Informers have all been made into films. American Psycho has also been transformed into a Broadway musical.
Bret Easton Ellis was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in June 2023. The conversation took place at Ellis’ Danish Publisher, Lindhardt & Ringhof, in central Copenhagen.
Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Edited by: Signe Boe Pedersen
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023
Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet and C.L. Davids Fond og Samling.
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