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The monstering of Richard Ayoade shows no one is safe from the culture war

He has been branded a ‘transphobe’ purely for praising Graham Linehan’s new book.

Angie Speaks

Topics Identity Politics UK

This week, it was the turn of Richard Ayoade to face the Two Minutes Hate of the trans-activist mob.

So what might this famously mild-mannered and uncontroversial comedian have said or done to deserve such a vicious social-media pile on? Eagle-eyed tweeters noticed that he had given an endorsement for an upcoming memoir by Graham Linehan, the celebrated sitcom writer known for Father Ted and The IT Crowd (which Ayoade starred in).

Of course, in recent years, Linehan has also become a bête noire of the trans lobby. The memoir, Tough Crowd, is billed as a humorous reflection on his journey from being one of the UK’s most beloved television comedy writers to becoming a pariah for being forthright about his gender-critical beliefs.

As if the cancellation of Graham Linehan were itself not cruel and irrational enough, the monstering of Richard Ayoade has been even more senseless. Not least as Ayoade had said nothing about the trans debate to provoke the pile-on. He has not endorsed or publicly agreed with Linehan’s views on gender. Ayoade’s quote on the book cover simply says of Linehan: ‘His brilliance in prose is equal to his brilliance as a scriptwriter.’ Yet, simply by daring to associate with Linehan, by praising a gifted writer’s skills, Ayoade has been damned as beyond the pale.

‘Well that’s Richard Ayoade in the bin’, wrote trans broadcaster India Willoughby on X (formerly Twitter).
Other users expressed their ‘shock’ and ‘disappointment’ at the endorsement. According to stand-up comedian Jen Ives, the cover quote tells us that ‘Richard Ayoade is either sympathetic to Linehan’s deranged, transphobic cause, or really, really fucking dumb. And I think we all know he’s not dumb.’

All too often, culture warriors believe that they can read the minds of their enemies. Most of us might suspect that Ayoade endorsed Linehan’s book simply because he enjoyed it. Perhaps he did it as a gesture of good will to a long-term colleague. Arguably, Linehan’s IT Crowd gave Ayoade his big break. Yet trans activists have instead jumped to the most uncharitable conclusion possible. They have interpreted Ayoade’s quote as if it were an elaborate attempt to send a ‘transphobic’ dogwhistle.

It seems you no longer need to even express gender-critical views to become a target of the mob. Apparently, it is now enough just to associate with prominent opponents of trans ideology to be marked out for condemnation.

This is chilling. Just contrast the anger shown towards Richard Ayoade and the praise heaped on his IT Crowd co-star, Matt Berry, who has publicly condemned Linehan. ‘I don’t share any views that the writer has’, Berry said in an interview with Vulture magazine in 2021, seemingly refusing to even utter Linehan’s name. A writer for GQ then shared the interview, praising Berry’s denunciation: ‘Particularly great he went on the record – unequivocally so, after a bit of prompting – on Linehan.’

The message all this sends is clear. A ‘good’ person denounces wrongthinkers and seeks to distance him or herself from them. You are expected to go out of your way to cut off and isolate anyone who strays from trans orthodoxy.

The woke are on the hunt not just for wrongthinkers, but also for friends and associates of wrongthinkers. No one can escape the culture war. Not even those rare public figures, like Richard Ayoade, who have kept quiet about contentious issues like the trans debate.

No wonder so many people in the arts feel too frightened to openly express their beliefs.

Angie Speaks is an intern at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Identity Politics UK

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