Ricky Gervais is set to release a new Netflix special, Armaggedon, on Christmas Day, yet a teaser clip has landed the British comedian in hot water due to his use of an ableist slur.
In one video, Gervais can be seen joking about terminally ill children who use the Make-A-Wish foundation to request for him to make videos for them. He refers to the children as “baldies” before saying, “Why didn’t you wish to get better? What, you fucking retarded as well?”
Since the clip was released online, the disability charity Scope has taken to Twitter to condemn Gervais’ use of the offensive word, which not only disrespects the existence of many disabled people but can also cause serious negative consequences.
Scope said, “He argues that he wouldn’t use this language in ‘real-life’. But his stand-up routine doesn’t exist in a parallel universe. The stage is real. Netflix is real. The people this kind of language impacts are real.”
They continued, “Disabled people already face negative attitudes, and the media has an enormous role to play in improving understanding. ‘Joking’ about this kind of language trivialises it. It risks normalising the abuse that many disabled people face on a day-to-day basis.”
The charity stated that it is “frustrating” to explain why ableist slurs shouldn’t be used, especially by a public figure, adding, “We need to be absolutely clear that this kind of language isn’t acceptable.”
Gervais has not responded to the criticism. However, a petition has been created in an attempt to remove the offensive material from Netflix.
We wish we were surprised by reports that @RickyGervais has used ableist slurs in his new @Netflix special 📺— Scope (@scope) December 5, 2023
Language like this has consequences.
And we’re just not accepting the explanation that Gervais uses to try and justify this language 🧵 1/4