Bill Maher caused a social media uproar after his HBO show “Real Time” Friday night when he said that abortion “doesn’t affect my life. I ain’t getting anybody pregnant,” while instead complaining about what does affect him — the shelving of Jamie Foxx and Shonda Rhimes projects because of sensitive race issues.
The conversation began with Maher telling his panelists — Washington Post op-ed columnist Catherine Rampell and Commentary Magazine’s Noah Rothman — that he didn’t care when televangelist Jerry Falwell claimed that the purple Teletubby was gay. “I’m not into the Teletubbies,” said Maher, who immediately flipped the subject. “Now? I want to see the Jamie Foxx movie. That affects my life.”
Foxx told CinemaBlend earlier this week that his 2016 film “All-Star Weekend” had been shelved because of some of its more outrageous characters, including Robert Downey Jr. as a Mexican man. “It’s been tough with the lay of the land when it comes to comedy,” Foxx said. “We’re trying to break open the sensitive corners where people go back to laughing again.”
Maher was pretty peeved about the film’s derailment, saying, “I’m sure this movie is awesome, and because a small group of people…it’s your opinion… why should your opinion control what I see?”
The panel spoke of recent rulings by the Supreme Court, including overturning Roe v. Wade and access to abortion. “There’s all sorts of nuts who want to do all sorts of things. Let’s stick to what’s really happening. We have taken away abortion rights. That’s right. OK. But again, doesn’t affect my life. I ain’t getting anybody pregnant,” he said.
The panel pointed out that these days, many people self-censor – or control what they say to avoid being scolded or “canceled.” Maher brought up as an example a report from earlier this month that the writers room of the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff “Station 19” came to a screeching halt when a white writer wrote into a script numerous racial slurs made by a racist character.
“It’s a Shonda Rhimes show; it’s about a firehouse,” Maher began. “One of the characters is racist, and they had the character in an outline using a racist term for Latinos. I’m not gonna step in it and quote it. And it’s a word I don’t think people should use, but it’s a racist character. How else do you depict [a racist] character?!…So they closed the whole show down because of a single word, spoken by a character, not one of the writing staff, a character.”
Maher read a statement from the production: “We will not be meeting creatively…We will not proceed with business as usual until the recent harm and systemic issues have been addressed and healing has begun.”
“What?!” Maher said. “Like it was a reactor lead, excuse me. OK. What, they found Legionnaires in the building? They had to close the show? How can a country survive with people on the level of this kind of fragility?”
He went on. “I would put money down that none of them actually believe their colleagues in the writers room are ticking time bombs of violent bigotry.”