20 October 2011


Ricky Gervais is currently confirming what I always suspected; that's he's actually not very funny at all. It's an Emperor's new clothes moment, or the exposing of the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. This 'mong' furore clearly illustrates that previously when we assumed he was being ironic, he wasn't.

Here's the thing about this 'mong' business. There's nothing wrong with making jokes about mental disabilities, but the jokes have to be about the condition itself rather than the sufferer. Otherwise you're just taking the piss out of someone with an incredibly complex and misunderstood condition, which has been ignored by those wishing to banish prejudice and discrimination from society.

Referring to this whole controversy Ricky Gervais said to Karl Pinkerton that what doesn't kill him makes him stronger. Karl said "What about Polio?" To me that's funny. That's a joke about Polio, not the sufferer of Polio.

I have a video on the blog at the moment of a man with Tourettes singing Lady in red. This is not about ridiculing those with Tourettes. It's purpose ultimately is to desecrate Chris DeBurgh's masterpiece.

Calling someone a' mong', or making a 'mong' face is just taking the piss out of people with mental illness. His justification that it's no longer associated with Downs Syndrome sufferers and just means idiotic and slow makes it even worse.

It means those things because we still associate those traits with mental illness. He's essentially saying 'mong' no longer refers to those afflicted with Downs syndrome, it's anyone with any kind of mental illness. It's like saying 'Paki' doesn't refer to someone specifically from Pakistan, it's anyone from that region.

I don't think there needs to be any legislation making these kinds of jokes illegal. We really don't want to live in a society where you can be cuffed and taken down town just for having an opinion or making jokes however unfunny.

I think society is intelligent enough to police itself on matters of decency. And on this occasion it appears to be doing so. Back in the 70s the sitcom Till death us do part starring Warren Mitchell as Alf Garnett.

He was racial bigot and the idea was we were meant to laugh at his ridiculous prejudices. People didn't though, the took him literally and laughed along with him rather than at him. Warren Mitchell had people coming up to him in the street and shaking his hand and making coon jokes.

Ricky Gervais is the modern day Alf Garnett. It is of course depressing so many people laugh with him instead of at him, but we can draw comfort from the fact that Till death us do part only ran for seven years. People get it eventually.

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