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Ricky Gervais' new Netflix comedy special debuted on Tuesday and it's already garnering backlash for jokes aimed at the transgender community.
The British comedian's special "SuperNature" took a controversial, no holds barred approach with lines on topics such as transgender people, Africans, Chinese people, victims of the Holocaust, global pandemics, pedophilia and more.
"I talk about AIDS, famine, cancer, the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia, but no, the one thing you mustn't joke about is identity politics. The one thing you should never joke about is the trans issue. 'They just wanna be treated equally.' I agree. That's why I include them," Gervais quips during the stand-up set.
Earlier, Gervais makes a distinction of "old-fashioned women" as "the ones with wombs" and "new women" as "the ones with beards and (penises)."
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Gervais then takes aim at pronouns in a mock argument stirred by "old-fashioned women."
"What if he rapes me? What if she rapes you, you (expletive) TERF?" the comedian says in a back-and-forth exchange. TERF is an acronym that stands for trans exclusionary radical feminists. The term describes feminists who are transphobic.
Gervais later discusses "poor Kevin Hart" for his decision to remove himself from hosting the 2018 Oscars after his past homophobic tweets resurfaced.
The comedian redirects again to trans people, suggesting the community is currently the thing that will get you canceled. "You can’t predict what will be offensive in the future," he says.
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Gervais also jokes that he wishes gender identity was around when he was a kid so that he could use it to his advantage by threatening his parents that he would either be trans or they can get him a new bike.
Later he admits to sharing "misinformed" rhetoric and being "childish," but preferred to be provocative in comedy.
"We're not trying to offend. That's not our aim," he said of controversial comedians. "We're trying to make you laugh. Trying to make you have a good time."
At the end of his hour-long special, Gervais told the audience, "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 you are. But meet me halfway, ladies. Lose the (penis). That’s all I’m saying."
GLAAD issued a statement in response to Gervais' special.
"(Gervais' special) is full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV," the organization said. Gervais made misinformed jokes about people living with HIV in his comedy special.
GLAAD continued: "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. While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy."
"The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable," the organization concluded. Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support."
The LGBTQ community and our allies have made it very clear that so-called comedians who spew hate in place of humor, and the media companies who give them a platform, will be held accountable. Meanwhile, there are PLENTY of funny LGBTQ comedians to support. 4/4
— GLAAD (@glaad) May 24, 2022
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Gervais quickly drew backlash from people calling the comedian's comments "transphobic."
"Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today. 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," one person tweeted.
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Ricky Gervais has a new stand up show out on Netflix today.
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.
— Esme (@discount_Ripley) May 24, 2022
Another wrote: "It's insane that Ricky Gervais' whole bit is screeching and cackling at marginalized groups being brutally murdered daily."
"Ricky Gervais is just an incredibly lazy comedian who hasn't worked out that just because you're offensive it doesn't mean you're funny," a Twitter user criticized.
USA TODAY has reached out to Gervais and Netflix representatives for comment.
Others on social media addressed Netflix's decision to air Gervais' special months after Dave Chappelle's special "The Closer," which also faced backlash for Chappelle's controversial jokes about the transgender community and prompted hundreds of the streaming platform's employees to stage a walkout.
"Here’s my thing about the anti-trans 'humor' from Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle and the rest: it’s not funny. It’s malicious and ugly. And it doesn’t fall under the heading of, 'Relax, it’s comedy,' " wrote a Twitter user.
Here’s my thing about the anti-trans “humor” from Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle and the rest: it’s not funny. It’s malicious and ugly. And it doesn’t fall under the heading of, “Relax, it’s comedy.” It comes under, “I’m gonna be an anti-LBGTQ bigot and use my job to shield me.”
— Mike Wise (@MikeWiseguy) May 24, 2022
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The controversy surrounding Chappelle has continued. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old man rushed on the stage and tackled the performer to the ground during the Netflix Is A Joke comedy festival in Los Angeles. The alleged attacker, Isaiah Lee, pleaded not guilty to four misdemeanors in the incident.
"I identify as bisexual … and I wanted him to know what he said was triggering," Lee told the outlet. "I wanted him to know that next time, he should consider first running his material by people it could affect."
On Friday, fellow comedian John Mulaney’s show in Columbus, Ohio, drew criticism on social media for having Chappelle as a surprise guest. Chappelle's set had, what some in attendance said, jokes targeting the LGBTQ community.
Gervais has frequently been criticized for his humor including his controversial jokes at the 2020 Golden Globes regarding the elite and pedophilia, tweets deemed as transphobic in December 2019 and quips about Caitlyn Jenner's multi-car accident in 2015 in which a woman was killed during his set at the 2016 Golden Globes.
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Contributing: Cole Behrens, The Columbus Dispatch; Naledi Ushe, Elise Brisco, Charles Trepany, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ricky Gervais, Netflix's 'SuperNature' face backlash for trans jokes