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Ricky Gervais Criticized for Transphobic Material in His Netflix Special 'Humanity'

Ricky Gervais Criticized for Transphobic Material in His Netflix Special 'Humanity'
( Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images, @DiscordianKitty/Twitter)

Ricky Gervais returned to stand-up in a new hour-long Netflix special called Humanity during which the comedian spent a good 15 minutes poking fun at the transgender community. Fan reaction to his new material was mixed.

His notoriety for offensive comedy and shock value is no surprise here since the comedian had already been accused of transphobia before.

A segment of Humanity is an extension to when Gervais, as master of ceremonies for the 2016 Golden Globes, taunted Caitlyn Jenner for her former identity as Bruce and the fatal car crash that killed a 69-year-old woman.

I've changed. Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course. What a year she's had. She became a role model for trans people everywhere showing great bravery and breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn't do a lot for women drivers. But, you can't have everything, can ya?

For Humanity, Gervais revisited mocking Caitlyn again by commenting on using dead-names – which is the term used to refer to someone by their given name before transitioning. Gervais also compared identifying as trans to identifying as a chimp.

She's always identified as a woman. That means she's a woman. Fine, if that's the rules. If you feel you're a woman, you are. I'm not a bigot who thinks having all that done is science going too far. In fact, I don't think it's going far enough. 'Cause I've always identified as a chimp, right? Well, I am a chimp. If I say I'm a chimp, I am a chimp pre-op. But don't ever dead-name me. Don't call me Ricky Gervais again. From now on, you call me Bobo.

People were outraged over his latest set.

The Advocate's Amanda Kerri, who's a transgender stand-up comic, reproached the comedian for mocking trans people and criticized that the British comic's material just isn't funny.

You see, I'm a transgender stand-up comic, and not one of these jokes is funny. Oh, not because they're offensive to my delicate she-male sensibilities, but because they're hack garbage.

But her frustrations go deeper than the stand-up dispensing trite punchlines.

What I am offended by is that some studio schmuck in a sports coat actually paid these comedy A-listers (who haven't done stand-up in a decade or more) the equivalent of an entire public school district's salaries to basically tell hack material you could get from the kids in a public school's detention hall. You hear that, Netflix? You paid Ricky Gervais $20 million for 15 minutes of memes you can get for free on theCHIVE and they'll be just as original. You paid $22,000 a minute for jokes you can get from a crusty copy of Hustler. You listening, Gervais?

Shon Faye, a trans comic and writer, told Indy 100 that, all joking aside, referring to one's dead name is highly disrespectful and oftentimes devastating to a trans individual.

People often feel justified to dead name Caitlyn Jenner – three years into her public transition – because she was famous before she came out. But I find this highly suspect reasoning when everyone knows her name, Caitlyn, and who is being referred to.

Dead-naming is such a horrifying thing to do to any trans person because it says that their true identity and their authentic self and the steps they have taken to be recognised by society more authentically can be snatched away at any time. It's also just courtesy. If you change your name that is your name and people should respect it.
The reason people don't is because they wish to express dominance over trans people and remind us they can invalidate and belittle us at any time. Which is why trans people don't find dead-naming Jenner or anyone else funny.
I would add that taking a swipe at trans people is the laziest comedy under the sun. We are the easiest group to target right now and everyone is doing it. Comedians like Gervais should try harder.

Gervais doesn't let the backlash online affect his approach to comedy. He met with Jack Shepherd from The Independent and said, "I don't really court controversy because I like the truth more." He wanted to make clear that he's not a shock comedian.

I don't like being labelled a shock comedian because I've never done that. I've had that ever since The 11 O'Clock Show, before they realised it was irony. That was until David Brent came out, and then people thought I was just like David Brent. Then Andy Millman came out.

Yet, the response to Humanity on Twitter remains mixed.

H/T - Indy100, Twitter, YouTube, TheAdvocate,