An open letter to Ricky Gervais

Dear Ricky,

Hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to tell you a story. It’s not very long and quite frankly may not have much effect on you. But if you can read to the end, I’d really appreciate it.

I’m six years old. I’m in a playground on Wandsworth common with my older sister and my au pair. I am playing on the climbing frame whilst my sister is bouncing a basket ball repeatedly on the ground. Bounce…bounce…bounce…

A scruffy boy who must be about nine years old towers over my sister. He has one of his front teeth missing and grass stains on his knees. His hair is dirty blonde and scruffed up.

With one big movement he snatches the ball from my sister. Bottom lip stuck out she wails and I rush to her side.
He looks her in the eyes and in a sing-songy voice declares: “you’re a mong…you’re a mong”
I look over to her – my sister, who has Down’s Syndrome – she looks devastated.

I had never heard the word he was using before. It made my blood boil. Tears welled up in my eyes with anger at this little prick. I swung my right leg behind me and produced an almighty blow to his shin. Sadly – it didn’t hurt him, I wasn’t the best at dealing out pain. But he did drop the ball and leave us alone.

Two decades later and I – luckily – have never heard anyone call my sister that since. Thanks to the work of Mencap and the Down’s Syndrome Association that word was well on its way out by the time my sister and I were growing up. But the prejudice and stereotyping about her condition still remains.

I am not overly PC. Far from it, I’m very much into my edgy humour. But what I will not ever support is idiotic, crass humour that quite frankly is obtuse and just plain stupid. You’re little ‘mong’ campaign may amuse you no end –  I bet you think you’re being really ‘dark’ and ‘controversial’. But you’re not speaking up for the likes of me – or anyone in this “cotton-wool” society.

You may think it ‘means’ something else now – but it still has it’s original context to most. And if used in a derogatory fashion you’re just going to undo all the work to take it out of the modern English language. And repeatedly using it on twitter is not big or clever.

In my opinion you’re just incorrectly using a word. A word that quite frankly is out-dated and only old people say.
Not very ‘hip’ and ‘now’ from one of the world’s best comedians is it?

You may think whatever campaign you have going on twitter may be a little protest against the Mary Whitehouses of 2011. But it does not impress me – or anyone from the more liberal walks of life. It’s boring and inane humour.

In a nutshell: It’s. Not. Funny.

So I’d stop before you make a complete tit out of yourself.

Come on Ricky, don’t be a dick!

And one last thing; if your liberal bandying about of the word mong encourages one more poor little influenced douchebag in the playground to call another kid a mong – I’ll personally come and show your shin what my right leg is now capable of after twenty years of practise.

Kind regards

Lexi Rose

Inspired by this article



Filed under Lets Get Personal, News, Opinion

18 responses to “An open letter to Ricky Gervais

  1. vivienne greenwell

    i have long struggled to see (post the office which was funny in edgy officey way) the pull of RG – m iss lexi rose is utterly right to pen a letter describing in simple, truthful and moving terms to Mr G just how ‘un’ funny he is – he won’t stand the test of humour time and is frankly insulting and ignorant and will be forgotten when others are coming up his rear (hopefully with bulldozer force) – well done miss lexi rose for pointing out, so eloquently, what a complete prat and humourless twisted sad piece of blaaah de blah niente nada nothingness he is. vg in gc.

  2. Pingback: » Ricky Gervais News & Trends

  3. As a Mencap employee I’d happily not heard this horrible word for years, this week however I’ve heard it over and over again, all thanks to Mr Gervais and his attempt to be controversial, it’s not big or clever just unnecessary, disappointing and so very, very sad.

  4. JustSaying

    What I find Ironic is that, just because he’s used a word you find offensive to a certain degree. However when any over controversial stuff comes out, you don’t see the people to do with that really kicking up a fuss. I’m not saying it’s good, but at the same time, he’s not trying to really take the piss out of Downs Syndrome. I would be offended by a lot of the things on t.v that offend people of colour every day if I took that to heart!

  5. Thanks for writing this. As CEO of West Berkshire Mencap and sister of someone with severe autism, challenging behaviour and other issues I totally agree with your opinion and commend you for writing.

  6. Ed King

    The last time I heard the word Mongol in reference to DS was when I was a child. It belonged to my parents generation and probably the generation earlier. That was 30 years ago. In my own experience mong is a word that was picked up by the E generation in the 1990s with things like ‘I got really monged last night’. Meaning ‘I took a lot of drugs/ got drunk’. Mong to describe someone as dopey/stupid etc has also come back into terminology, but most people are unaware of the original word it is derived from. We use ‘mental’ to describe people as crazy/wacky/deranged and that word is derived from ‘mentally handicapped’. Should we stop using that too? The reality is that the meaning of words changes for different generations. Ricky Gervais clearly did not mean to offend people with DS. Isn’t that the point?

  7. LB

    Well done. Have a brother with DS and totally understand. Incidentally, RG also has gone on record about a live show (Nine Carols and Lessons for Godless People, Hammersmith Apollo, Dec 08) in which he told a “joke” about raping an old lady with Alzheimer’s Disease. There were a handful of shocked gasps. A couple of embarrassed titters. RG maintains that this incident never happened and that people were laughing. I was there too. People were not laughing. Sad to see an intelligent man believing his own propaganda. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Stephen Merchant live now I know for sure where the talent in that particular duo clearly lay.

  8. sleepyhead

    To Ed King

    Words do change their meaning, and in this case much in the way you detail. But they cannot change their history, and for many, many people mong is a word that will always carry its history with it. And if, as you say, most people were unaware of its origin (something I would contest, btw), that history could always resurface – which seems to be the case here. Given that the word is still being used as an insult (albeit milder), and not, say, as a new breed of flower, there’s always a chance it will return to its original meaning. Best consign the word itself to history.

  9. Amelia Rose

    I pissed myself at the raping a woman with alzheimers joke. The fact it makes me gasp first just makes it all the more funny. What’s the quote?..being offended is the tax you have to pay so you can laugh at jokes other people find offensive…

  10. I am so sorry for your upset with this.

    I am genuinely torn with Gervais. I have M.E. and it ruins my life, and so when on his FAME tour he tore into M.E. sufferers as lazy and attention seeking, it hurt me badly. So when I saw this repeated last night on channel 4, I was equally aghast at the Downs comment / Susan Boyle reference. And it’s such sloppy humour. It’s the laziest, phoned-in stand up he’s ever done. A shame as I think he’s genuinely funny, when he’s being observational, so it’s all the more upsetting that he’s gone all ‘Frankie Boyle’ with his shock tactics. I thought the rape jokes were also unforgivable and crass and Im pretty open minded.

    • :O:

      Chris, if you followed Ricky for a bit now you would know that he is not into being controversial for the sake of being controversial – in fact, fame for the wrong reasons and that kind of message was the subtext of his show Extras.
      I’m not justifying any offence that he’s cause, i’m just saying that he’s been using it for a while now (he’s called Karl Pilkington it since they started doing their podcast show years ago) so don’t think he would be using it as a part of some recent “shock tactic”. I genuinely believe he’s saying what he thinks – that the word is as far removed from it’s derivative as ‘gay’ is from meaning ‘happy’.
      Regarding the M.E. joke – he did point out at the end of the bit that it is actually a real disease

  11. Sasha Callaghan

    ‘Edgy’ comedy should be about challenging the powerful and their pretentions. Simply going for the soft option of attacking people who are often powerless is lazy and not very funny. Personally I do like Ricky Gervais but he’s just made the life of my son who has learning difficulties a whole lot harder. No doubt he’ll have to add ‘mong’ to the list of insults (fucking freak, creep, window licker) he hears from non-disabled ‘funny, edgy’ darkly humourous’ people. Yeah, we’re pissing ourselves laughing.

  12. He’s about as funny as a dose of the clap.

  13. Lilly Smote

    I’ve never really got him. Nor his hype. But the other night one of his acts from 2010 was on tv, I think it was on ‘’Dave’’ & I left it on as i was getting some jobs done.
    In it he had used that term to describe Susan Boyle & U.K.’s Down’s Syndrome Association wrote to him at that time to complain.
    To use the term again is obviously just to court media attention & controversy, its neither brave nor clever.
    He may say that the word has changed its meaning, but to a majority of people, it still is very much derogatory & I still (sadly) hear people with downs described as such, so it is still very much prevalent & he & his ego wont change that. I’m pretty sure people such as MENCAP & U.K.’s Down’s Syndrome Association are more on the ball with DS than he is & in more of a position to say they find it offensive.

  14. Pingback: Holy Flying Insults « gemmavarnom

  15. Read this post for a letter written to the The Disability and the Equality and Human Rights Commission – great stuff from El Presidente!

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