Patricia Arquette Says Ricky Gervais’s Trans ‘Jokes’ Aren’t Funny


Against Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais’s cynical warning to winners to not make political speeches, Patricia Arquette went all in with one when she won for her role in The Act. The LGBTQ advocate and ally was one of few celebrities to clock Gervais for stirring anti-trans sentiment in a series of tweets in response to the backlash to J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans remarks.

Gervais, who deadnamed Caitlyn Jenner while hosting the Golden Globe Awards in 2016, passed off his tweets as jokes and satire, but the result is that he still stirred up anti-trans sentiment on social media.

Arquette, whose transgender sister, Alexis Arquette, died in 2016, addressed Gervais’s attempts at humor in an interview with Variety at the BAFTA annual tea party in Los Angeles on Saturday.

“I think it’s a really important conversation for everybody to have. Obviously, I have very strong feelings about protecting the trans community,” Arquette said. “I just don’t think anything’s funny about making fun of the trans community. They’re really persecuted, so I don’t think it’s funny.”

Responding to a troll account of a man pretending to be transgender to mock the outrage at Rowling for adopting the language of TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), Gervais wrote, “Those awful biological women can never understand what it must be like for you becoming a lovely lady so late in life. They take their girly privileges for granted. Winning at female sports and having their own toilets. Well, enough is enough.”

In his tweets, Gervais adopted anti-trans language that made it difficult to decipher if he was serious or not. Whatever his intent, he fomented hatred against the trans community, which Arquette called out in her comments to Variety.

In his opening monologue at Sunday’s ceremony, Gervais appeared to address backlash to his tweets:

“You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore. I’m joking. I never did. I’m joking, I never did. NBC clearly don’t care either — fifth time. I mean, Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars for some offensive tweets — hello?

“Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English and they’ve no idea what Twitter is, so I got offered this gig by fax. Let’s go out with a bang, let’s have a laugh at your expense. Remember, they’re just jokes. We’re all gonna die soon and there’s no sequel, so remember that.”

Gervais spent much of his monologue for the hosting job calling out hypocrisy among Hollywood’s elite and touching on political and social problems before he issued a warning to winners to avoid political speeches.

“If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg,” he said, mispronouncing her name.

“So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God, and fuck off, OK? It’s already three hours long. Right, let’s do the first award.”

Several winners did deliver political speeches, including Russell Crowe, who sent a message about the fires in Australia; Michelle Williams, who spoke about a woman’s right to choose; Joaquin Phoenix, who spoke about the environment; and Arquette. 

“I’m so grateful to be here and celebrate this, but also I know tonight, January 5, 2020, we’re not going to look back on this night in the history books,” Arquette said.

“We will see a country on the brink of war, the United States of America. A president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs, including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives traveling across the world,” she added.  “People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids’ heads. And the continent of Australia on fire.” 

When Arquette won an Emmy for The Act in September, she recalled her sister Alexis and pleaded for the protection of trans people. 

“Trans people are still being persecuted. And I’m in mourning every day of my life, Alexis, for you, until we change the world so that trans people are not persecuted,” Arquette said.


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