So, awhile ago, Ricky Gervais submitted two absolutely ridiculous pictures to Rolling Stone for their cover (neither of which they used) and wrote a stupid piece about them for Huffington Post. One of the images is of Gervais dressed like a clown and sticking a gun in his mouth, and the other is of Gervais posed like Jesus, with a microphone stand filling in as the cross, wearing (I cannot even type this without laughing uproariously) a crown of thorns and jeans, with "ATHEIST" written across his chest in faux blood. He is shirtless to show off his recent weight loss, natch.
Ricky Gervais: Sexy Martyr.
It's sooooooooooooo self-indulgent and so cringingly humorless. When I first saw it, I sent it to Deeks and Spudsy and we had a good laugh (for all the wrong reasons), but I didn't think it was particularly worth a post, because who could take that shit seriously?
Well, it turns out New Humanist magazine can, and has decided to use the picture on the cover of their latest issue.
"You have the right to be offended, and I have the right to offend you." Ooooh, what a brave teller of rape jokes and trailblazing social commentator whose "edgy" comedy consists of sneering misogyny, fat hatred, and classism. Way to stick it to The Man, Gervais. You're a real fucking hero.
Yes, Ricky Gervais has the right to offend me, but I am not offended. I am contemptuous.
I am contemptuous of anyone who uses humor to be a bully, who directs punchlines at the powerless to the further enrichment of the privileged. Comedy is a weapon, and no one knows that better than people who wield it professionally. Any professional comedian who says it doesn't matter in what direction that weapon gets pointed is full of shit.
Gervais, like most comedians, likes to dismiss his critics as humorless and/or oversensitive, but it is indicative of neither humorlessness nor oversensitivity to observe that some comedy upholds privilege and some comedy challenges it.
If Gervais wants to be an extremely privileged straight, cis, white, Western, wealthy, influential man who uses his sizable platform in service to his own privileges, that's his call. But he ought to at least have the integrity to own it.
"You have the right to assert your privilege, and I have the right to snort derisively."
Anyway! Back to that picture.
LOL OMFG THAT PICTURE!
I mean, listen, no one knows better than I do that there can be a real and substantial cost to being a public atheist, no less a public atheist who challenges Christian privilege. But that image is just colossally absurd. It's vain, and it's hyperbolic, and it's tedious. And it has nothing at all to do with the actual real-life consequences that atheists can face in their real lives: Job loss, alienation from family, ostracization from community, political and cultural marginalization, etc.
It's so grossly self-centered that all I can imagine what I look at it is that Gervais really does fancy himself some sort of savior, which I suspect was not the irony that was intended.
Blah blah I continue to be unimpressed with evangelical atheists.