Netflix released another comedy special with transphobic material.
In his new stand-up special “SuperNature,” which hit the streaming service on Tuesday, Ricky Gervais begins making jokes about “old-fashioned women,” “new women” and transphobic concerns about public restrooms. almost immediately, before embarking on a long run against “cancelled culture” and “woke comedy”.
The hour-long special comes amid Netflix’s attempts to navigate slowing revenue growth after announcing last month that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Since then, the giant streaming has cut jobs and contract positions, including those tied to social media accounts that were focused on promoting content to people of color and the LGBTQ community.
“SuperNature” isn’t Netflix’s first stand-up special by a high-profile comedian with transphobic material. In October, the streamer faced backlash after the release of “The Closer” by Dave Chappelle, who was also called out for transphobic jokes. In addition to public outcry over Chappelle’s remarks, Netflix employees staged a strike to protest the company’s decision to support the special.
Gervais is no stranger to such outrage and specifies in his special that he expects more.
“I’m going to leave it to annoy people,” he jokes about identity politics.
“I talk about AIDS, famine, cancer, the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia, but no, the only thing not to joke about is identity politics,” says Gervais. “The one thing you should never joke about is the trans issue. ‘They just want to be treated equally.’ I agree. That’s why I’m including them.
As such, it includes trans people – especially women – in “SuperNature”. Even before his part involving anti-trans misconceptions around public restrooms, Gervais drops Eddie Izzard’s gender identity. He jokes about being “canceled” for transphobic tweets that reduce women to anatomy. Gervais even engages in a lengthy speculation that he admits to being “childish and misinformed” about being an alleged trans lesbian named Vicky.
Towards the end of his special, Gervais is careful to note that “in real life” he supports trans rights, not without once again taking on trans women.
“I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights,” says Gervais. “Live your best life. Use your favorite pronouns. Be the kind you feel you are. But meet me halfway, ladies. Lose the c—. That’s all I’m saying.
Gervais also makes a point during his special that words, unlike physical attacks, do not count as “actual violence”. But “SuperNature” comes at a time when state lawmakers across the country are passing laws to restrict classroom discussions about LGBTQ people, ban children’s access to gender-affirming care, and bar trans students from participating in sports or to access locker rooms that correspond to their gender.
Earlier this month, as if to avoid any repeat fallout after “The Closer,” Netflix added new language to its staff guidelines regarding corporate culture. The added language explicitly states that Netflix would not “censor specific artists or voices…even if we find certain titles contrary to our own personal values” and makes it clear that the company expects its staff to align.
“Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles that you perceive to be harmful,” the guidelines state. “If you’re struggling to support the breadth of our content, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”