Popular 'Comedian' and the Ugly Face of Disability Discrimination

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Diddy-D's picture
Diddy-D
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Apr 16 2012 13:14
Popular 'Comedian' and the Ugly Face of Disability Discrimination

Take a look at this obnoxious crap:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2130277/Ricky-Gervais-new-comedy-Derek-criticised.html

The father of an autistic child, has laid into the so-called 'comedian', Ricky Gervais. His latest TV show, set in a care home, takes the piss out of people with mental disabilities. These are a group of peeps, who are often not able to defend themselves intellectually.

I have a menta illness, and when I have been unwell, was once called a 'retard' by a group of yobs on the bus. It hurts like fuck, and I felt humiliated.

I call Ricky Gervais, an odious fucking prick. I want to run into him in the street, and tell him to his face.

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Apr 16 2012 15:58

You've fallen to the Daily Mail's bait. That show is not offensive at all, in fact, the opposite as Derek is both capable of living his life and has a heart of gold. Have you even watched it?

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Apr 16 2012 16:17

there is a theme of social "failure" that runs through Gervais work, from david Brent and Gareth in "the office" through the mocking of Karl's "simple" world view in "an idiot abroad" to this new character. maybe derek will turn out to be a sensitivly written multi dimentional exploration of Disability discrimination issues, but given the "mong" thing maybe not so much.

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Apr 16 2012 16:42

Offensive is subjective. I find the fact that Gervais has teeth offensive.

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Apr 16 2012 17:52

I thought it was ok although a bit ham-fisted at times. At the end I started laughing because although it was a bit cheaply manipulative (it used that bit of piano music that is always used in programmes like this and overused other similar music) I still found it affecting. To be honest it might have been a bit patronising but it didn't feel that way to me.
IF anything it was too short so we were told a bit too much and didn't see much. I liked it though, if they decide to make more I'll watch them.

Black Badger
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Apr 16 2012 18:20

One of the reasons I find Gervais so funny is that he goes right to the heart of social awkwardness, whether the middle management toady with no independent personality (in The Office) or the semi-talented actor with minimal opportunity (Extras). At a certain point in each of these shows, the character is forced to confront a fundamental pickle: to do the right thing as a decent human being (which he understands) or continue his stupid path of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, being a bid thick and uncaring - in short, being bourgeois. Seems to me that he always ends up doing the right thing despite social expectations and pressures. If this past is any indication, whatever happens with this new character will certainly follow along similar lines.

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Apr 16 2012 19:26

Not seen this programme but... this is the Daily Mail complaining here, and by default, my starting point is to assume that everything the Mail says is reactionary gobshite, outright lies or exactly the opposite of what they actually say. So in this case, I'd be inclined to suspect that Gervaise is probably being sympathetic rather than discriminatory. Sure I may be wrong, but that's my default starting point and I'll have to have a watch and see if I end up agreeing with the Daily Mail.

All that said, whatever Gervaise puts out is unlikely to be anywhere near as offensive of just one single issue of this vile and nasty rag.

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Apr 16 2012 19:47

I admit to not having seen the show, because Ricky Gervais isn't funny.

~J.

Caiman del Barrio
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Apr 16 2012 20:59
Black Badger wrote:
I find Gervais so funny

Ban!

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Apr 16 2012 21:24

Stupid people think it's cool, and smart people think it's a joke, also cool

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Apr 16 2012 21:42

Well the father of an autistic child, did not find it funny. And he is someone who has the lived experience. I have a disability. I have been taunted because of this. So I have the lived experience too. How many of you can say that?

When you have, then your opinions will carry more weight.

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Apr 16 2012 22:08

The Office was awesome because you're laughing at other people's cringey bigotry. Since then, he's gone downhill...it seems like you're supposed to be laughing at whoever the bigot is making fun of (I haven't seen Derek, but Life's Too Short was terrible.)

It's too much irony upon irony which ends up going full circle and people thinking it's ok to use the term 'mong' because it's ironic.

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Apr 16 2012 22:10

The father of an autistic child, selected and prepared by Daily Mail journalists did not find it funny.

Diddy-D, if you've seen this programme and can give your opinions on what you have viewed, then I'll be more interested. However, I'm really not interested in anything based on some Daily Mail campaign and would take it with a pinch of salt, until it's backed up either by a more reliable third party or unless I watch the bloody programme myself. I'm not a big fan of Gervaise (though Extras was okay) so I'd prefer not to watch it. If you've seen it, fair play. If you've not, wtf?

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Apr 16 2012 22:55
Diddy-D wrote:
Well the father of an autistic child, did not find it funny. And he is someone who has the lived experience. I have a disability. I have been taunted because of this. So I have the lived experience too. How many of you can say that?

When you have, then your opinions will carry more weight.

Do you have the experience of having watched the programme? That would also be pretty relevant.

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Apr 17 2012 01:30

bottom line is, how many autistic kids/people have been laughed at and called 'derek' this week?

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Apr 17 2012 02:57
GBF23 wrote:
bottom line is, how many autistic kids/people have been laughed at and called 'derek' this week?

How on earth is that the bottom line for judging it? The show could have been made with the best intentions in the world, in the most sensitive manner and you could still have kids using Derek as an insult, because kids can be horrible little shits, that's hardly the fault of the program makers. Blue Peter had a man with severe cerebral palsy on in a bid to challenge prejudice but kids used the mans name Joey Deacon as an insult for years, hardly the fault of Blue Peter or the BBC.

I haven't watched it, it didn't look very appealing but I will say that anytime I've heard Gervais accused of being bigoted in the past it's came from idiots who have massively missed the point.

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Apr 17 2012 02:38

The Daily Mail is not to be used as a litmus test for solidarity with the underdog. Gervais as a comedian, especially his style of comedy, can do whatever he likes to offend, but it takes a well-oiled campaign of social panic, the likes of which The Daily Mail has perfected into an artform over many years, for a forum full of libcoms to all of a sudden lose sight of their critical faculties and fall into the trap of emotional reaction. Come on guys !

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Apr 17 2012 02:51

Saying that, obviously I agree with Melancholy and Serge...

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Apr 17 2012 05:35
GBF23 wrote:
bottom line is, how many autistic kids/people have been laughed at and called 'derek' this week?

Good point. I am lobbying to shut down the charity Scope because children have used the name of the charity as an insult.

The main problem with Derek, which could also be considered its strength, is that it didn't really explain anything. Apart from over-egging his colleague saying how nice he was no-one actually explained whether he was autistic or not, he simply was (although I'm not sure 100% realistically). By avoiding being an after school special surely it is making disabilities more normal.

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Apr 17 2012 09:04

It does seem like a bit of a knee jerk reaction to say it's offensive without having seen it.

But as others have pointed out, I think it's fair enough to have some scepticism as to whether Ricky Gervais' is making some deep, sociological, thought-provoking program after thinking it's ok to casually use the word 'mong'. And after making Life's Too Short, which was balls.

But fuck the Daily Mail for being fucking hypocrites - much worse than Gervais.

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Apr 17 2012 09:37

I didn't find it particularly offensive, simply because it seemed Derek was supposed to be autistic but that was never the butt of any jokes. I just felt a bit uncomfortable watching Gervais' Mr Burns-esque walk and the stuck out jaw.

The show itself was weird tho, I didn't really understand it. It was just a little awkward (and i dont mean 'awkward' in the vein of the office/extras), I couldn't tell what they were even trying to do with it. It was also just a little patronising ('oh derek is SO nice oh he has a HEART OF GOLD oh he's LOVELY blah blah blah').

Overall I'd say it was lacking the Stephen Merchant touch.

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Apr 17 2012 09:43
jef costello wrote:
Good point. I am lobbying to shut down the charity Scope because children have used the name of the charity as an insult.

Scope, who changed their name from The Spastics Society, because of the perjorative connotations of the word "spastic," only to discover some 5 minutes later that kids were calling each other "scopers" in playgrounds across Britain. neutral

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Apr 17 2012 11:31
the button wrote:
jef costello wrote:
Good point. I am lobbying to shut down the charity Scope because children have used the name of the charity as an insult.

Sorry, I hadn't realised ricky gervais was a charity who has supported thousands of disabled people and their families. I thought he was just 'avin a larf.

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Apr 17 2012 16:09
GBF23 wrote:
the button wrote:
jef costello wrote:
Good point. I am lobbying to shut down the charity Scope because children have used the name of the charity as an insult.

Sorry, I hadn't realised ricky gervais was a charity who has supported thousands of disabled people and their families. I thought he was just 'avin a larf.

It's almost as if I deliberately made that parallel to point out that your point didn't make sense. Choccy made the point more explicitly if that helps.
Out of interest have you watched it? Have you heard of any child being picked on because of it? Your argument seems more like a knee-jerk baby out with the bathwater reaction.

I'd agree more with bob that it didn't have much of a point and was a bit patronising towards Derek. If anything it was a patronising aftger school special that didn't tell us the condition we were supposed to learn the message about.

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Apr 17 2012 16:17

yeah, children's show kinda sums it up nicely.

personally i'd say this show was more offensive to old people than to disabled people.

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Apr 17 2012 16:58
Diddy-D wrote:
Well the father of an autistic child, did not find it funny. And he is someone who has the lived experience. I have a disability. I have been taunted because of this. So I have the lived experience too. How many of you can say that?

When you have, then your opinions will carry more weight.

Diddy, have you actually watch the show? If not then I'm afraid I can't really respect your opinion on it either.

I am disabled as well, for what it's worth.

And as for the Daily Mail, on a weekly basis it spits bile and spews out vile propaganda defaming disabled people to its millions of readers. You should be extremely sceptical of anything it says purportedly on our behalf.

(Regarding the show, I haven't watched it because the trailer looked rubbish)

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Apr 17 2012 17:16
revol68 wrote:
I will say that anytime I've heard Gervais accused of being bigoted in the past it's came from idiots who have massively missed the point.

Real 'substantive' critique there...

And tbh, rather than groping around in the dark for some abstract 'point' (which - as you accept in your preceding paragraph with the Blue Peter example, is hardly a 'bottom line' either), I think we can mostly agree that this is bigoted bullshit:

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Apr 17 2012 17:39

I watched it and didn't pick up on Derek being autistic at all. He's nothing like any of the autistic people I know. Has Gervais explicitly said Derek is supposed to be autistic? If so I think the depiction was well off the mark, but I don't think it was necessarily mean spirited. I think there is a big problem with the general way in which disabled people are depicted in popular culture. You rarely get examples of characters who happen to be disabled, but that isn't the reason they are in the story. Disabled characters tend to be included because of their disability, rather than it being incidental to the story, which is a shame.

fleurnoire-et-rouge
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Apr 17 2012 18:10

I haven't seen the show, it's not available for download from C4 in my part of the world, and I can't really be bothered to search around for it, so I can't really comment on it specifically.
I do have a kid with learning disabilities, not profound but enough to get picked on from time to time, and my problem is not that someone may have made a (possibly) hamfisted attempt to make a drama with an autistic character, but that there are so few representations of people with learning or physical disabilities in any medium. The best you can usually expect is the generic, schmaltzy, plucky little individual, overcoming adversity against all odds sort of thing. Something like I am Sam springs to mind.
I don't actually care if Derek was crap, most tv is, I would just like to see a more representative view of the world on my screen. Good stuff, bad stuff, comedies, dramas, commercials, anything where disabilities are just part of the background noise, not the issue of the week.

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Apr 17 2012 18:20
jef costello wrote:
GBF23 wrote:
the button wrote:
jef costello wrote:
Good point. I am lobbying to shut down the charity Scope because children have used the name of the charity as an insult.

Sorry, I hadn't realised ricky gervais was a charity who has supported thousands of disabled people and their families. I thought he was just 'avin a larf.

It's almost as if I deliberately made that parallel to point out that your point didn't make sense. Choccy made the point more explicitly if that helps.
Out of interest have you watched it? Have you heard of any child being picked on because of it? Your argument seems more like a knee-jerk baby out with the bathwater reaction.

I'd agree more with bob that it didn't have much of a point and was a bit patronising towards Derek. If anything it was a patronising aftger school special that didn't tell us the condition we were supposed to learn the message about.

are Choccy and Revol68 the same person?
That would explain a lot laugh out loud

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Apr 17 2012 18:30

Just wondering how many people on Libcom read the Daily Mail to give a balanced opinion? wink