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Ricky Gervais responds to outrage over 'dangerous' jokes about trans people and Aids in Netflix Special

GLAAD has condemned Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix special stating “it’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes”.

2022-05-25

Words: Emily Maskell; pictures: Wiki

Ricky Gervais has responded to outrage over jokes featured in his new Netflix special, SuperNature, which have been considered anti-gay and anti-trans. 

The special had only been released on the streaming platform for a few hours when it began drawing criticism for jokes which have been labelled as "dangerous" by the LGBTQ media advocacy group, GLAAD.

It's not the first time the 60-year-old British comedian and actor has skirted controversy by touching on sensitive or contentious topics. 

"He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV."

"We watched the Ricky Gervais ‘comedy’ special on Netflix so you don’t have to,” the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD said in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday (24 May).

The statement continues: "[SuperNature is] full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV."

Responding to such criticism the comedian told the BBC on Tuesday that comedy is a way of getting "us over taboo subjects".

Continuing he said: "I think that's what comedy is for, really - to get us through stuff, and I deal in taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn't been before, even for a split second. Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target."

In one segment of SuperNature, Gervais states: "I love the new women. They’re great, aren’t they? The new ones we’ve been seeing lately. The ones with beards and cocks."

Later in the show, Gervais also discusses the origins of HIV: "That’s not as good as it was, Aids… in its heyday, it was fucking amazing, wasn’t it, Aids?"

Towards the end of the special, Gervais seemingly offers his reasoning for his targeted comments on trans people saying, "Full disclosure: In real life of course I support trans rights.

"I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel that you are. But meet me halfway, ladies: Lose the cock. That’s all I’m saying."

GLAAD directly addressed the partnership of Gervais and Netflix in their statement: "Netflix has a policy that content "designed to incite hate or violence" is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that."

The statement adds, "While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy." 

One Twitter user echoed concern about the nature of Gervais’ set, commenting: "5 minutes in and he’s making jokes about trans women attacking & raping people in public bathrooms. To him we exist only as a punchline, a threat, something less than human."

Another states: "Ricky Gervais is a disgrace, he is going to cause hate crime and ultimately the death of Trans folk. Anyone who needs to vilify minorities to get a laugh is the most evil hateful soul and seriously needs mental help."

Netflix has previously been under fire when they aired Dave Chappelle’s 2021 special, The Closer, which was also accused of featuring hurtful jokes targeting transgender people and led to a Netflix employee walkout.

According to Variety, the streaming service has recently told employees it will support the "artistic expression" of the creators it works with and that if staff don't like it, they can leave. 

"Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you'd find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you," it added.

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