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It’s Impossible To Overstate Just How Awful Ricky Gervais’ New Violently Transphobic Netflix Special Is

Ricky Gervais scratches his head and looks concerned during a standup comedy special.

Last year, Netflix faced intense controversy over Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The Closer, which included a number of transphobic “jokes.” There was backlash from audiences, walkouts among staff, and condemnation and even resignations from some other high-profile Netflix creators.

Now, Netflix is proving that they learned exactly nothing from that ordeal (except maybe that the controversy could translate into increased viewership, although given the recent substantial decrease in subscribers, that doesn’t seem to be the case) and the platform has premiered another wildly anti-trans comedy special, this one from Ricky Gervais.

Gervais’ special dropped today and immediately, people were sharing just how horrible it is. But however awful you’re expecting it to be, I just don’t think anything can prepare you for the level of violent bigotry Gervais put out. After just a few minutes, he starts on a tirade about trans women and rape. There’s a deep obsession with trans people’s genitals and he deliberately misgenders his hypothetical trans villains throughout.

Here’s a transcript, via Variety, but it comes with an extreme content warning for, well, everything listed above. I wouldn’t even include it here but it needs to be made clear that there’s no way to overstate just how awful this is:

“Oh, women!” he starts. “Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs. Those fucking dinosaurs. 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. They’re as good as gold, I love them. And now the old-fashioned ones say, ‘Oh, they want to use our toilets.’ ‘Why shouldn’t they use your toilets?’ ‘For ladies!’ ‘They are ladies — look at their pronouns! What about this person isn’t a lady?’ ‘Well, his penis.’ ‘Her penis, you fucking bigot!’ ‘What if he rapes me?’ ‘What if she rapes you, you fucking TERF whore?’”

A few minutes later, while discussing Kevin Hart leaving his role as Oscars host two years ago after refusing to apologize for past bigoted jokes, Gervais leans back into the anti-trans rhetoric.

“You can’t predict what will be offensive in the future,” Gervais said. “You don’t know who the dominant mob will be. Like, the worst thing you can say today, get you cancelled on Twitter, death threats, the worst thing you can say today is, ‘Women don’t have penises,’ right? Now, no one saw that coming. You won’t find a ten year old tweet saying ‘Women don’t have penises.’ You know why? We didn’t think we fucking had to!”

First of all, of course people were making those kinds of anti-trans comments ten years ago, and they were always offensive. Gervais and others of his ilk just didn’t think they had to care.

The most ridiculous, divorced-from-reality thing Gervais says here, though, is calling transgender people (and vocal trans-supporting allies) the “dominant mob.” Last year, there were a record number of anti-trans bills and laws introduced nationwide, and this year is already set to surpass that record. It’s literally a crime in some states to offer trans youth gender-affirming healthcare. With 375 murders, 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans people. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth reported considering suicide at some point last year. So how exactly are trans people the “dominant mob”? Because Gervais is no longer to allowed to make gross blanket comments about their genitals without being told to STFU? That’s absurd.

Toward the end of the special, Gervais comes back to the subject of transgender people and his obsession with their genitals, 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.”

There is nothing original or brave or funny about these jokes—calling trans people rapists and predators, saying they need to have surgery to pass whatever bar Gervais has decided to set for them, or claiming that being called out these sorts of comments is “mob” behavior. As comedy, it’s lazy. As commentary, it’s cruel.

In the words of actually funny comedian James Acaster, what a “brave little cis boy” Gervais must think he is for choosing to punch down so hard at such a perpetually targeted group of people.

Shame on Netflix for giving this level of hate a platform and what was likely an enormous payday for Gervais. Even worse, the company has already ordered more of the same.

(via Variety, image: Ray Burmiston/Netflix)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.