"He had tossed out a reference to "mong" on Twitter and, when challenged, defended and aggressively reused it on the basis that the word had evolved from its original meaning and was no longer a term of abuse for disabled people. After he was corrected by Down's syndrome groups and a mother of two disabled children, he backed down. But the scale of the outrage, and his defiance in the face of it, was stoked by a lurking sense that he was in any case overdue for a kicking. "Someone even suggested it was a PR stunt," he said. "Amazing."Read the full interview by clicking here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2011/nov/04/ricky-gervais-lifes-too-short?INTCMP=SRCH
I am a pretty big fan of Gervais. I am in no way a fan of Karl Pilkington mind you, but Gervais' relentless mockery of virtually everything is almost on a par with South Park ... except there are no fictional, animated characters here. It is the celebrity himself who presents The Golden Globes and, in his new TV series Life's Too Short, he plays himself. Puts a whole new meaning to the excuse "its just a joke" and what it is when "making light of a situation". But it seems that this twitter incident was a little bit too far - even by Gervais' standards.
I recently watched a pre-release Making Of... documentary about the series and it seems that Ricky is almost making a cross between The Office and Extras. On the one hand, like The Office, it is very-much a documentary as Warwick is happy to ensure that he gains any publicity possible - we see his home life, his office, his working life, his interests and hobbies - everything. But it is worth noting that Warwick Davies plays a character who bears no parallel to himself - his character is divorced, out-of-the-job, is desperately looking-for-love, has a small-man complex and though supporting many dwarf societies, he has his own issues that often foil any attempt to do good. But, akin to Extras, it is set within the media world with many-a-cameo from A-list celebrities such a Johnny Depp, Liam Neeson, Sting and Helena Bonham Carter.
It is easy to categorise both the offensive remark 'mong' and what appears to be mocking Davies for his height as the same thing, but it is clear that this is not the case. Chaplin was funny because of his mannerisms and the way he presented himself - and this is the reason Davies is remarkable in this role. How he looks to camera when something embarrassing happens, his constant struggle to merely be accepted into a celebrity-clique and desperation for fame - these are character traits, much like Keaton's no-smile face and Lloyd's glasses. Not to mention how Gervais is decent enough to apologise once he realised the contemporary use of the word.
I have a feeling that Gervais and Merchant spoke long and hard about how best to pitch this TV series before writing it. Personally, I am looking forward to it and I have a feeling that they have pitched it just right: awkward enough to be embarrassingly funny and semi-controversial for publicity, but good-natured enough that it doesn't aim to offend people and there will be a solid-defence from those who enjoy it.