Gervais steps into the ongoing controversy surrounding J.K. Rowling after she threw her support behind a researcher who tweeted that a person cannot change their biological sex.
Ricky Gervais didn't even wait until the Golden Globes to start offending people this time around, causing an online furor two weeks before the star-studded events for tweets being perceived as transphobic.
The comedian stepped into the fray begun by Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling when she controversially threw her support behind Maya Forstater, a researcher fired for a tweet of her own wherein she claimed that you cannot change your biological sex.
He chose to barrel into the debate by responding to a parody account that was feigning outrage at Rowling's support of Fortater by lamenting, "as a trans woman, the thought that I will no longer be welcome in a fictional school for wizards has destroyed me."
The tweet was a promotional tease for the accompanying article written by the same individual, which was definitely satirical in nature. So was Gervais just following satire with satire?
Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life. They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 20, 2019
"Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life," he tweeted. "They take their girly privileges for granted."
As outrage began to rise on his feed, Gervais actually took the time to respond to a few of them, telling one user, "We need to protect the rights of women. Not erode them because some men have found a new cunning way to dominate and demonize an entire sex."
Finally, though, he did confess that the whole thing was a joke in response to a joke. "He hasn't even realised I'm playing along with a spoof account," Gervais wrote of another user.
But even still, his followers seemed determined to get to the root of the whole thing, demanding that he clarify once and for all if this is a joke or if they should be offended (though it being a joke doesn't necessarily mean it isn't offensive).
On Saturday, Gervais took a step back from the debate itself in a new tweet expressing his thoughts on the growing sensitivity of culture and the challenges many people have discussing any slightly contentious topic, while also admitting that he kind of loves it when his followers start arguing in the comments.
At the same time, though, he compared modern society to "Game of Thrones" and couched the whole thing in humor, because that's kind of what he does. The Golden Globes has not responded to Gervais' latest foray into controversy. It remains to be seen if or how Gervais will modify his comedic style in the #MeToo era.
The biggest question Gervais, and many other comedians are facing, is whether or not this is the right time for this kind of comedy, when transgender individuals and other marginalized groups are being targeted and attacked both individually and at large in politics and policy. Does there come a time when a joke is just not appropriate, or should any topic be fair game at any time?
I fear that some people’s inability to discuss sensitive or contentious issues without insult or threat will lead to society ending like a battle scene from Game Of Thrones. Hopefully, science, truth & common sense has all the dragons.— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) December 21, 2019
After hosting for three years beginning in 2010, Gervais last hosted the Globes in 2016. Every time, he has been met with outrage and controversy from some quarter. He clearly sees how sensitive the climate is right now. How much will he try to get away with?
Gervais has always been a provocative comedian who likes to push the envelope and make people uncomfortable by refusing to shy away from controversial topics and often subverting the politically correct and accepted way of looking at these issues. That's not something that's been well-received these days.
Ricky Gervais is sure to offend someone (or everyone) when he takes the reins of the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards, airing January 5 on NBC.
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