It’s been nearly four years since Ricky Gervais hosted a Golden Globes ceremony and a lot has changed. The president is different, the climate is different, the state of the entertainment industry is different. But Gervais is just the same, and for that reason, he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s list for hosting responsibilities.
In November, the organization responsible for the Golden Globes announced that Gervais would be returning for a fifth and, mercifully, final time as the ceremony’s host, this despite the controversial British comedian’s extensive history of transphobia.
While the decision is not a surprise because of his tenure, it remains a disappointment. During Gervais’ 2016 stint hosting the ceremony, he deadnamed Olympic Gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner from the stage, and transphobic commentary has been a throughline of his work since.
The star of Netflix’s “After Life” opened his 2018 stand-up comedy special “Humanity” — also on Netflix — with not one but three different derogatory remarks about Jenner, discussing her former name, referring to her as a man, as well as discussing surgery and her genitals. Gervais told the audience during his special that his references were jokes from his Golden Globes appearance that he opted out of because they were too offensive. “I’d never tell a joke like that, it’s horrible,” he simpered after each comment. “I didn’t do it, so you’re getting offended at a joke that doesn’t exist.”
Except, obviously, he did do it. In the same special, he also chose to to demean transgender individuals by making jokes about them “identifying as chimps.”
More recently, he used Halloween as an opportunity to mock transgender activist Jessica Yaniv — and, again, he doubled down with a faux apology, retweeting the original tweet and noting he should “apologise and delete it and never make offensive jokes like this again.” Over a month later, of course, the tweet remains up, with this additional note provided as context:
I don’t try to offend, but the more people are offended by a joke, particularly on twitter, the funnier I find it. And the angrier the tweet, the more chance of me using it and turning it to laughs and cash. PC culture isn’t killing comedy. It’s driving it. As it always did 🙏
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) October 31, 2019
At some point, you have to accept that Gervais isn’t making jokes, he’s telling us exactly what he thinks. And what he thinks is that trans people are less valid than everyone else.
This isn’t acceptable, and the HFPA’s choice to continue to associate with Gervais at all, much less give him the reins on the organization’s biggest night, is baffling. In an age where comedians are rightfully being held accountable for bigoted words and actions from years prior — it’s been less than a year since Kevin Hart lost the job as Oscar host for homophobic tweets made between 2009-2011 — Gervais continues to tweet vitriol toward the LGBTQ+ community only to face no repercussions.
We demand better.