In the upcoming special, which has been previewed through various clips on social media, the comedian jokes about making videos for terminally ill children for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I always start the video the same way, I go, ‘why didn’t you wish to get better?’ Gervais jokes in the clip. “What, you fucking ret***ed* as well?”
Shortly afterwards, Gervais states that he doesn’t “use that word in real life”, defending his use of the word as “playing a role” for comedy purposes.
After the video was posted on YouTube last week, disability equality charity Scope spoke out against the special in a statement on X.
“Language like this has consequences,” they wrote. “And we’re just not accepting the explanation that Gervais uses to try and justify this language.
Language like this has consequences.
And we’re just not accepting the explanation that Gervais uses to try and justify this language 1/4
— Scope (@scope) December 5, 2023
“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.”
The charity added: “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.
“It’s frustrating that we are once again having to call out a public figure for using this kind of harmful language. But we need to be absolutely clear that this kind of language isn’t acceptable.”
A petition on Change.org has also condemned Gervais’ use of the word “baldy” to describe terminally ill children. The petition, which has amassed over 4,000 signatures, was created by Sess Cova, whose daughter had cancer.
In the petition’s description, Cova calls for Netflix to remove the “offensive skit from its platform immediately”, describing the jokes as “distasteful” and “heartless”.
“They are a slap in the face to not only the children battling these serious illnesses, but also their parents and families who stand by them through this difficult journey,” it reads.
Gervais was previously criticised by some for making jokes about the trans community in his last Netflix special, SuperNature.
Ricky Gervais: Armageddon is scheduled to be released December 25 on Netflix.
The post Ricky Gervais criticised for using ableist slur in Netflix special appeared first on NME.