Comedian Ricky Gervais is fighting back against allegations he is “transphobic”after making a joke about Caitlyn Jenner as he hosted Sunday’s Golden Globes.
The outspoken Brit opened the Hollywood ceremony with a gag about the retired Olympian, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, who transitioned from male to female last year.
Gervais was discussing how much he had changed since he last hosted the Globes in 2012, when he quipped, “Not as much as Bruce Jenner, obviously. Now Caitlyn Jenner, of course.”
“What a year she’s had!” he continued. “She became a role model for trans people everywhere, showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes.”
“She didn’t do a lot for women drivers,” he added, referring to the fatal multi-car crash Kim Kardashian’s stepfather was involved in back in February, before he went public with his new female persona. “But you can’t have everything. Not at the same time.”
The joke was well-received by the star-studded crowd, but some viewers were not happy with the jab and blasted Gervais on social media.
The ongoing backlash prompted the funnyman to defend his sense of humour in a series of posts on Twitter.com on Tuesday, insisting his joke was harmless.
“Suggesting a joke about Caitlin Jenner is automatically transphobic is like suggesting a joke about Bill Cosby is automatically racist,” Gervais tweeted. “In the future, everyone will be offended by me for 15 minutes. You have every right to be offended. Just don’t cry when no one cares.”
“Do people not realise that when they say they are offended by a joke it makes that joke even funnier for the rest of us?” he asked hours later. “If jokes caused the easily offended to bleed internally, I’d do more stand up.”
The Office creator and star then took one follower to task after he wrote, “If your joke is about a person’s transition, it’s probably transphobic.”
“What if it was about her killing someone with her car?” Gervais responded. “Would that be ok?”
The user replied, “Yeah, but the joke was in two parts. That bit: fair game but the ‘Bruce Jenner changes…’ bit was about her transition”, prompting the funnyman to point out: “But it WAS Bruce Jenner who changed. Into Caitlyn Jenner. And I respect that. Just not her driving.”
Gervais then wrapped up the rant by laughing, “I made a joke about Caitlyn Jenner killing someone in her car. I’m TransportPhobic.”
The 2015 accident occurred when the SUV Jenner was driving slammed into the back of a car on the Pacific Coast Highway in February, causing a pile-up which nudged Kim Howe’s vehicle into oncoming traffic, resulting in her death.
Jenner escaped criminal charges, but was sued by other drivers involved in the crash.