Muppetry In Motion

19 Oct


Look who’s the subject of this week’s blog:

Yes, I know what you’re thinking:

“I could have sworn Stephen Merchant was taller”.

Or perhaps:

“Who’s that muppet … with the puppet from Sesame St?”

Hey hey! Love your work.

So, yes, with almost overwhelming reluctance I sight the laser crosshairs of this week’s blog squarely upon the rictus grin of Ricky “He’s having a laugh – is he having a laugh?” Gervais, and his controversial use of the word “mong”.  And yes I know the world and his stuffed ostrich has already blogged this bloody subject into oblivion but, fuck it, I WILL HAVE MY SAY.

Right. You all know the back-story; man says thing, world spins off axis. My thoughts on this are threefold:

  1. Ricky Gervais is a master of self-promotion. He’s got various new projects to plug and he knows if he pokes a hornets’ nest with a shitty stick then the hornets will be angry and they’ll fly about and you’ll have to get a pest control man in to gas them and it will be messy and expensive and everyone will run around shouting “Oooh, this is simply intolerable”. Sorry, that turned into an episode of Downton. But you take my point; controversy sells. It even sells tripe like “An Idiot Abroad”. Ricky 1 – World 0.
  2. Ricky’s claim that people only disagreed with him because they were “jealous of his success” is well, contemptible, with added “cunt”. Come on, so successful people are immune to criticism? That was a cheap retort worthy of a fuckwit. The irony is, of course, I am jealous of his success. I’m also jealous of his talent. But I also I think he’s a tosser. These facts are all utterly unrelated. Ricky 1 – World 1.
  3. At the risk of coming over all Stephen Fry (blimey) don’t blame the words. Words are great. Try “Lozenge”, for example. Or “Torchbeam”. Roll that around a while. “Torchbeam”. Yeah, it’s crunchy, yet juicy; like the crisp, wet hit of biting into a Bramley. I also love the sound of the word “mong”. If some schoolboys kicked a football through a belfry window, the sound of ball hitting bell would be “mong”. Of course sound is one thing, meaning another, and Ricky is right when he says words evolve different connotations through time. But the key point is this evolution does not happen at a uniform rate. Consequently words develop multiple meanings depending on the contexts in which they are used. During the war, when I was a regular poster on the Popbitch messageboard, most contributors (myself included) used the verb “to mong” to mean “to fuck about”, eg. “I’ve spent all day monging on this pointless forum when I should have been doing my real job… which is seriously fucking cool and exciting btw”. Within that (very) limited community, the word “mong” developed a distinct meaning, which, although not totally removed from its original sense, would be sufficiently different for it to warrant its own definition in a dictionary. And that’s Ricky’s premise; “words change”. What he forgets, of course, is that he’s not tweeting to a limited community with a shared and accepted “new” definition of the word. He’s tweeting blindly to millions across the entire planet. And for many of his followers the word “mong” will retain its original hateful connotations.

When you think about it, his arrogance is staggering. He’s trying to single-handedly redefine a word on a global scale; in essence saying:

“I am Ricky Gervais, writer of The Office, look on my new definition of the word “mong”, ye mongs, and despair”

But of course he isn’t actually doing any of that at all. He’s just pushing our buttons to shift some units.  More fool us for reacting.

Final Score: Ricky 2 – World 1.

Cue storm of outraged letters to FIFA and re-ignition of “goal-line technology” debate.

Hey ho, nearly Christmas. Less swearing next time, promise.



13 Responses to “Muppetry In Motion”

  1. @TRushbyS October 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    I agree, he’s definitely pushing buttons for effect, but I have one additional point: The claim that he is pioneering a new definition of the word mong is rather undermined by the photographs he has posted of himself pulling faces which look suspiciously like he is trying to impersonate someone with Down’s.

  2. Alasdair Murray (@Alconcalcia) October 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    I’ve often thought Gervais treads a fine line between being acceptable and outrageous, knowing he can simply turn round and say he didn’t mean it if confronted. It was fairly evident to me in his live shows – that sort of ‘is he joking or isn’t he?’ approach that sails him fairly close to the wind.

  3. Gav October 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    Ricky Gervais is a difficult one…. he is a clever guy and I agree he uses this for self promotion. I honestly feel he really is chafeing from the backlash… once he could do no wrong. The Office and Extras were superb and a lot of the comedians that have turned on him have aped those shows and fell short. I find the hatred directed towards him a bit excessive. He can be an idiot but my view is that as in Jacques article, the likes of Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle way overstep the mark and certainly go beyond the use of the word mong.. bit of a storm in a very small teacup for me

  4. SN4KES October 19, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    I think this whole thing went to shit when he decided to retaliate against the people who were offended by what he said. Part of his defence is that he’s a controversial guy and that, love him or hate him, he won’t change. Well if that’s the case, then he’s got to stop trying to change other people.

    I don’t really have a problem with the “mong face” thing per se, but I accept that others definitely will, and that’s the part that Gervais doesn’t seem to understand. His refusal to just shut up and accept a bit of criticism for his rather average gag is where I lose respect for him.


  5. Koenfucius October 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Perhaps none (or little) of this would actually matter if Ricky Gervais were as funny as he seems to think he is. It’s not that easy to come up with a popular comedian who is less funny – maybe, just maybe Russell Brand?

  6. Garth Jenkins October 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    I think Ricky has always been a cunt, he just forgot that in twitter, under his real name he has no veil of irony to hide behind. Which I say here, if anyone’s interested

    On another note, my mate is actually allergic to the word lozenge. If you say it around him he goes weird. What a pretentious cunt, I know.

  7. Nic October 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

    I nearly laughed at Ricky Gervais once. He is a cock of the highest order and should be shot immediately !

  8. Wee Jakie October 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    How very brave of Ricky Gervais to pick on “mongs”. Not much fear of painful retaliation from vulnerable disabled people. He ought to try redefining “nigger” in a similar way and see what happens to him.

    I’m afraid I’ve lost all respect for him as views like his only serve to perpetuate the horrible prejudiced society we live in.

    If you wonder what all the fuss is about, try imagining what it’s like to have a close relative with a learning disability and try to imagine the difficulties they face on a daily basis from a pretty cruel outside world. The last thing they need is for some major celebrity to state that it’s fine to mimic them and call them names. Wouldn’t a little bit more understanding and a little bit less ignorant gobbiness be so much better?

  9. L October 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Gervais actually said people were *offended* by his success, not jealous.
    About which he is correct. If you don’t like a person, you are indeed offended (bemused etc) by their success.
    I think if you are going to quote people, it’s best to do so correctly.

    • Garry McMahon October 23, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      I don’t like Tom Cruise but I don’t mind his success and can appreciate his talent.

  10. Der Bruno Stroszek October 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    He really has come across quite startlingly badly here, and I’d hope the last vestige of his “it’s just a character you twats, chill out and have a laugh!” defence has ebbed away. Fuck’s sake, he’s even using the phrase “PC brigade” without apparent irony.

    What is worth examining here is the effect this has had on his fans, a huge majority of whom seem to have gone to the wall to defend his vital right to say “mong” without facing any sort of criticism or backlash. All the high-profile people who’ve criticised him over this have had a barrage of “mongs” in retaliation, usually in a context that implies they’re really, really not using it to mean ‘idiot’. An example: someone just tweeted at him “When a mong says bithnith, he means business”.

    We can all laugh at people who treat violent movies as if they’re how-to manuals for murder, but this is actually someone stepping outside any sort of screen persona and saying to his fans, “It’s OK to say mong, and I hope you’ll join me in harrassing and insulting anyone who thinks otherwise.”

  11. mob_fone_seller October 20, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    My first instinct to this is that he’s overstepped the mark. It reminded me of the first time I saw Gervais doing sketches on the 11 o’Clock Show, where I thought he was both unfunny and distasteful.

    I loved the Office and a lot of his work since and quickly forgot my first impression, until now.

    His motive? Not sure whether it’s as calculated as above but difficult to believe it is simply misjudgment. First instinct was that it is a deliberate act of self-destruction, and not his first, by a man weary of fame? At the end of his creative well, feeling under pressure? Someone naturally insecure not feeling worthy of all the apologists backing him up when he has clearly done wrong? God knows. Perhaps he’s just run out of things to say. I hope not because I never really liked the first Gervais but absolutely loved the second one.

  12. Tom Gribben October 20, 2011 at 7:44 pm #

    I remember being disgusted a few years ago when on a visit to Egypt ( an area of the world with a lot of poverty) he appeared on children in need espousing the pleasures of first class air travel, chauffeur driven limos and five star hotels all in the name of raising money for charity it turned me off him and in some small way children in need appeals he is one complete and utter cock

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