Disability equality charity Scope have spoken out against slurs used in Ricky Gervais’s newest Netflix special, ‘Armageddon’ which is set to be released on the streaming platform this year.
While the special isn’t yet out, Ricky Gervais has been promoting it by sharing clips on social media and one of which, he jokes about making videos for terminally ill children via the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
At one point, he calls them ‘baldies’, and says: ‘Why didn’t you wish to get better? What, you f***ing re****ed as well?’
Scope responds to slurs used in Netflix special
In a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), the disability charity outlined why this kind of language has consequences and why they don’t accept Ricky’s reasons for using it.
While the comedian said that he wouldn’t use these words in ‘real-life’, the charity points out that his stand-up routine doesn’t exist within a parallel universe saying, “the stage is real. Netflix is real. The people this kind of language impacts are real.”
They added that disabled people already face negative attitudes, and said that the media has an ‘enormous role to play in improving understanding’.
The charity states that ‘joking’ about this kind of language trivialises it and risks normalising the abuse that many people face on a day-to-day basis.
Disability hate crime is rising in the UK
What the charity had to say rings true, especially since disability hate crime saw a 43% increase in England and Wales between 2021-2022 versus the previous period, according to police records.
A petition has been created with 3,966 signatures at the time of writing by the parent of a child that battled cancer.
The creator, Sess Cova said, “The recent skit by Ricky Gervais on Netflix, where he refers to terminally ill children as “baldy”, is not just disrespectful but also deeply hurtful. It mocks the courage and resilience of these young fighters who face their illness with grace and beauty despite their baldness.”
She added: “Ricky Gervais’s jokes were not only distasteful but also 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. His words have offended an entire community – those dealing with childhood cancer.”