[Content Note: Rape jokes; disablist jokes; fat jokes; privilege.]
Shaker Rebekah forwarded me this piece about the series of adverts Ricky Gervais is doing for luxury car brand Audi, which have recently started airing in the US:
To launch its new A3 sedan, Audi of America is turning to Ricky Gervais to drive home the message that consumers should never compromise.I've seen the "Names" spot several times, in which a little girl reads shitty tweets about Gervais, and he says they mean he's doing something right. The other two, I've only seen online, and this "Uncompromised Portrait" ad is hilariously awful:
To hammer home the message, it cast Gervais, a comedian who is often blasted by critics for his acidic sense of humor and jokes.
Gervais is featured in an overall branding campaign called "Dues," and a separate shorter spot called "Names," as well as in a series of "Uncompromised Portraits," in which he discusses his process of telling jokes.
The ad, filmed in black and white because OF COURSE IT IS, opens with piano music and text onscreen reading: "Audi A3 Presents: An uncompromised portrait. Ricky Gervais, writer, comedian, actor, etc..."Good fucking grief.
Gervais, sitting facing the camera, says: "I cherish the gasps as much as the laughs and the cheers and the rounds of applause." He makes a gasping noise. "I like that. I didn't turn up to any audience and go, 'What do you like? What shall I do? I do requests.' You know? The reaction after the Golden Globes was weird." This monologue is intercut with images of an empty theater, a man walking in the snow, a train, and other random shit because ART. "You usually have to be a mass murderer for that sort of column inches. But then, you know, by the end, they sort of got it. They went, 'Oh, okay then. He's just telling jokes.' I don't really want to do safe, homogenized stuff that everyone likes a bit, you know? I sort of like doing it my way, 'cause that's the fun. Every day should be filled with doing what you love. That's more important. It's more important than anything." Gervais grins.
Text onscreen: "Whatever you do, stay uncompromised." Audi logo.
First of all: LOL FOREVER at the contention that people who criticized Gervais' garbage routine at the Golden Globes were somehow confused about the fact that he was telling jokes.
Secondly: LOL FOREVER at the assertion that Gervais isn't doing "safe, homogenized stuff" when he's a teller and defender of rape jokes, disablist jokes, and fat jokes (for a start), as if making fun of rape, disabled people, and fat people isn't so old it's got brontosaurus shit in the treads of its sensible shoes.
It is the height of irony that humorists who do bigoted humor are regarded as provocateurs.
I mean, sure, he's a "provocateur" if provocateur is broadly defined enough to encompass a playground antagonist who pokes other children with a stick. If anything designed to provoke any response can make one a provocateur, then give Ricky Gervais his trophy for Provocateur of the Year or whatever.That shit's about as edgy as an abacus.
But "provocateur" really should mean something loftier—not a person who engages in the tiresome bigotry of misogyny and ableism, of racism and xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, who tells and defends rape jokes, just to elicit an entirely predictable (and legitimate) negative reaction from people getting poked with the stick, who are then immediately dismissed with charges of "humorlessness" or a lack of sophistication required to get the nuances of a joke to which the punchline is, at its essence, you are less than me.
A provocateur, if the word is have real meaning, is someone who challenges existent paradigms and marginalizing narratives, who presents a radical thought that makes people sit rather uncomfortably in their privilege and urges them to wander off the well-worn path of their socialization. It's someone who changes minds.
It isn't someone who calls people "mongs" and pretends that it's brave.
Finally: All the mirthless laughter in the multiverse at another highly privileged person sagely dispensing the advice that "every day should be filled with doing what you love" because "it's more important than anything." EVEN EATING! OR SHELTER! So go ahead and quit your job at the factory and spend your days DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, because no matter what it is that you love, you can definitely get rich doing it, if only you work hard enough!
Jesus Jones. Everything about this advert is the worst. Except for the fact that it's probably a pretty great choice for selling a luxury car to privileged dipshits who think Gervais is a hero for bravely upholding kyriarchal norms and calling it radical.