‘When I use a word,’ Ricky Gervais said, in rather a scornful tone,
‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
So stand up, you, child with intellectual disability and mud on your hands and tears on your dirty face, and do stop making a fuss. Mr Gervais clearly didn’t mean you. And if those other children pushed you to the ground and shouted Mong! at you, it’s hardly the fault of one of the most successful English entertainers of the last fifteen years, is it? No it is not.
Because when he calls people monglets it’s ironic! This is a man with a stellar career. He’s worked with Samuel L Jackson, for God’s sake! Next you’ll be saying that selling millions of box sets of The Office gives Mr Gervais some sort of sway with the impressionable public who, let us all be crystal clear here, are quite capable of deciding who’s a mong and who’s a retard or a spazz, thanks. And anyway, the other kids were at least including you in their activities, no?
Honestly. There’s no pleasing some people.
Yes. Get over it. You don’t see all the gays standing around with dull looks of incomprehension, wondering what’s going on and why they’re being victimised, do you? And it’s not because they can’t go on about it. Christ, the gays LOVE to talk! Nobody can out-talk Graham Norton! But they know it’s not all about them. No homo isn’t saying, like, no to homosexuality. It’s an in-joke, see.
Here we go. I can tell I’m going to have to explain every single thing in this one. The gays are getting on with it. Why can’t you mongs get that? And no, I don’t mean people with Down syndrome. I have friends, some of my best friends, who have Down syndrome. Plus too, this isn’t some bandwagon Mr Gervais has suddenly jumped on. He mentioned mong in his Science DVD, and he even explained there that he doesn’t mean Down’s Syndrome. See?
Really you should be grateful. The more the great Mr Gervais popularises the word, the less power it will have in precisely this situation. He’s doing you a FAVOUR, Down syndrome people. If you weren’t a- if only you hadn’t an intellectual disability you might’ve saved everybody a lot of trouble by figuring that out for yourself.
As it is, the PC brigade has come running. Typical. Bloody Richard Herring. Clueless tool. You lot just don’t get that everyone does it. It’s NOTHING to do with Down syndrome. And the extremist idiot cretins who keep mentioning suicide and abuse of people who have intellectual disability, why do they insist on coming up with this rubbish and then bringing it back to someone who has a huge following and is very successful and has worked with Larry frigging David, ffs? How could the two be related AT ALL?
Mr Gervais is shining a spotlight on the ridiculousness of this PC nonsense. He only ever says mongol to explain that mong isn’t related to mongol, which is a word he would never use. Besides, if for one second anyone could show a link to the popularising of abusive hate language and abuse suffered by people with disability would instantly change things.
If you were to say, just go with us here for a minute of hypothetical indulgence, suppose you were to say that South Wales Police figures show there were 379 reported disability hate crimes in 2010/11, an increase of 214 on the the previous year, well that might be something. But it’s not going to happen because clearly it’s UNrelated.
And besides, it’s Wales.
Ricky Gervais is straight down the line. He has shown respect for nobody, equally, and you’d do well to bear that in mind. He’s torn strips off 84 year old Hugh Hefner. He’s ripped into Hollywood stars. He’s lampooned the holocaust. He’s worked with Kate Winslet, for the love of Christ. What sort of unequal signal would it send out if he started treating people with intellectual disability as if they were somehow different?
Not his style. He is honest. If you can’t take that, do as so many of his loyal fans suggest. Don’t listen. How can it hurt if you just change channels? You won’t have to hear what he’s saying, or what his millions and millions of catch-phrase loving fans will be repeating. Simple, simpleton.
Why SHOULD he apologise? He’s got 450, 000 followers on Twitter alone, and they understand exactly what his high ideals are on this matter. This is a man who has worked with Robert de Niro. If Mr Gervais says Susan Boyle looks like a mong well then I’m at a loss to understand how you could take that up wrong. She just needed a makeover and a bit of a do. Crikey, I hope I don’t get stuck in a lift with you any time soon because it already sounds like your jokes will be TERRIBLE.
But still, the streets are lined with the haters, jealous of the Gervais Midas ways with words. No matter. As the man himself has said, ‘two mongs don’t make a right’ (please don’t make an association there with Down syndrome: there clearly is none). It’s easy to forget that he didn’t have to have a character in a wheelchair in The Office. But he did it. No word about that now though, oh no, Nicky Clark. Now it’s all ‘Ooh you can’t say that’, and ‘What would Richard Herring say?’ Who cares what Richard Herring would say? I mean, look at what he says on his blog:
I am not offended by Ricky “reclaiming” the word “mong” (though I don’t think it’s his position to attempt this), I just think it’s a bit odd and pathetic to be doing what he’s doing and I don’t agree that the word is harmless. But no one is trying to ban anything – I have used the word “mong” in this blog (oh, I’ve done it again). And as I’ve also said there’s loads of comedy in disability and our attitudes towards it. But ironically enough, by Ricky’s 300,000+ followers taking his lead and using the word against people (including me today) they are demonstrating why it is misguided of him to use the word in the first place. I don’t think he has found a way to make it mean something different, but his fans definitely haven’t (here’s the latest example – “Who the hell is Richard Herring? I’d call him a mong, but I don’t want to insult mongs!! :-)” – is that man using “mong” to mean something other than disabled? Don’t think so). And the term is suddenly proliferating, which is making life uncomfortable for the disabled people I have been in contact with. Which seems a shame. I guess having done these two Objective shows on the golliwog and the wheelchair has made me more acutely aware of how these names affect people.
What. A. Mong. (No disablist.) Richard ‘Softie’ Herring has quite clearly never co-starred with Orlando Bloom in ANYthing. Also, Ricky loves his fans. Really loves us. How could you, whining on and on about being PC, possibly hope to understand real love? Have YOU worked with Ben Stiller?
I did not think so.
Update: Gervais replies to Nicky Clark following her emotional reaction on a BBC radio show. I can’t hear it in Ireland, unfortunately, but maybe you can. It’s here.
And thanks for a link to a more reasoned response, from comedian Robin Ince here, thank you Moloch50.
I sense that you have some anger issues. I’m mostly just tired.
Well done, you’ve taken this on as only one who was, well, closer to the Empire than I am, could.
I have had online exchanges with a few online UK gamers about the “m” word; several of them have replied that they hadn’t really made the Trisomy 21 connection. I have no way of knowing, all the way over here on this side of the other pond, whether they were lying or not. You’re a better judge; I trust your assessment.
Personally, I’ve found RG’s humor often painful (including “The Office” – it is too often a component of modern comedic formulas. “An Idiot Abroad” is an abysmal exercise in the genre of playground/middle school bullying , whether the ‘idiot’ was playing a part or not.
Language does change; Dr. Down was a proponent of the “ethnic classification of idiots.” Idiot was a medical term. It no longer is, and is now liberally applied by the majority of us. I think Mr. Gervais and I would easily trade this modern epithet freely between us.
Ricky Gervais is using a mob. And anyone who uses a mob successfully is smarter than the mob. He knows exactly what he’s saying, and the petulant 13 year old princeling who’s used to getting his own way is worn through. He’s not attempting to disarm the word ‘nigger’ of its loaded symbolism and duality. Because he knows he’d get his arse kicked in a very tactile sense. Words like mong, spa or retard have not been worn smooth by time. We know and understand that they will, as all words become worn to some degree, but they are not there yet, and no doubt enough people would have warned the spoiled adolescent that this is so. As Richard Herring said, if you mean idiot just use idiot. It’s smooth. It doesn’t attach any more. Similarly cretin and moron, but hey. You know all this. And yes, I’m still venting here, and thanks for being there. There’s lots of awkward humour that makes me cringe. For some it works. I’m not agin’ it. But it doesn’t need cheap targets, because they only elicit cheap shots. Cheap. There’s the word I could’ve used instead of the thousand above. Ricky Gervais is cheap.
“Tiger Moms” have got nothing on our kid’s Mothers. I’m just sayin’.
Oh, and he’s still a putz – my apologies to penises everywhere.
It seems that “comedians” who are failing, or on a downward spiral of desperately searching for new material, inevitably latch onto the soft target of those with disabilities. He is popularising a word never said kindly, and giving his fans permission to use it. Shame on him. xxx
You said it all very simply and elegantly, Jean. Thank you.
It’s taken me more than a week to get here because I (used) to like some of Ricky Gervais’ humour and I’m really tired of having the scales pulled from my eyes.
What I don’t get is why he hasn’t apologised. He is an intelligent man, he has a loyal following of at least half a million sycophants willing to applaud his every word. If he could let that tiny little voice inside him that is actually quietly feeling guilty speak up it would change everything.
We all make mistakes when we are tired, or ill informed, or influenced by a mob prejudice. But we all have the ability to learn from our mistakes and admit we were wrong. And a good apology can be even better than not making the mistake in the first place because it demonstrates to others (potentially 500,000 others) that it is cool to have a change of mind and admit it. This idea that you have to take a position and stick to it in order to be respected is the problem.
Like Eblog I have seen the casual use of disabled hate words come up in Tech circles a lot. And I’m willing to believe that a generation of people who will never insert a cd into a 6 stacker, let alone use a cassette to record a song from the radio because they can’t afford the “single” – have never made a connection between the vilification of disabled people and a word they use to describe some poorly written code or an ignorant or poorly informed review.
That doesn’t mean its okay for them to use it- when you are able to engage and explain how it hurts people you love, they apologise if they are mature enough. If they are not then I don’t engage them; there is nothing a troll loves more than a quest, so it’s pointless.
Which brings us back to Ricky. Taking a look at the guy, I guess that he was probably the victim of teasing in the past. A bit tubby, not very athletic, not very pretty so perhaps he became “the funny guy” to get through those horrible school years.
But rather than making him empathetic, he’s trying to put as much distance between that bullied inner child and the target of the mob, just in case they turn around and start mocking him again. It’s not an excuse, Just an explanation.
I had completely missed this. I liked his comedy. Seems to happen to a lot of stars once they get big.
I didn’t like him before, grew to hate Gervais, now after reading that he makes me physically sick