During Bill Maher’s New Rules monologue, the comedian and political commentator called on his audience and viewers to not “make the Olympics into the Oscars.”
Throughout Friday night’s return of the HBO show, “Real Time,” after a month-long hiatus, the host criticized the ongoing Tokyo Olympic Games, comparing it to this year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
At the end-of-show segment, Bill Maher listed various examples at this year’s Olympic Games where officials had come under fire over historical behavior, in some cases incidents that took place decades ago.
In one case he presents, the opening ceremony’s musical director went under fire over a 1994 interview. During the interview, he confessed to bullying fellow students when he was a student.
“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,'” Bill Maher said. “No longer an empty threat now.”
Maher also sneered at the media coverage of surfing becoming an Olympic sport. The Associated Press reported that including surfing in the Olympics worsens cultural appropriation and “racial indignities.”
According to the outlet, non-Hawaiians have popularized the sport, which has deep cultural and spiritual ties for Hawaiians. For Maher, he describes the political and cultural climate in the U.S. as a “purge.”
Bill Maher Pleads With Audience To See the ‘Good Parts’ of Olympics
“It’s a mentality that belongs in Stalin’s Russia,” he said pointedly. “How bad does this atmosphere we are living in have to get before people who say cancel culture is overblown have to admit that it is, in fact, an insanity that is swallowing up the world.”
Maher also admitted that “most of human history is a horror story” but said that keeping cultures and communities in a bubble gets in the way of seeing the positive. “The good parts are groups coming together and sharing. It’s sort of the whole point of the Olympics,” he added.
As he pointed out, the concept of the Olympic Games was adapted from the Greeks. “What is this new rule that the first to do something are the only ones who get to have it?!” he asked.
To end his segment, he ended by condemning the hypervigilance regarding cultural appropriation. However, he did admit that there are times when it’s appropriate to call it out. “Stealing natural resources from indigenous people — yes, of course, that’s exploitation,” he said.
Yet, at the same time, he added, “Not everything is about oppression. 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. Even though trying to inhabit the life of someone else is almost the definition of empathy, the bedrock of liberalism.”