Ricky Gervais on the increased velocity of “outrage”

Ricky Gervais is doing the media rounds at the moment to promote his new Netflix show, After Life.

I binged it on a recent flight to Canada. Like most of his post-Office* work, it’s… decent enough. Emotional moments are too heavily signposted early on, but delivered so tenderly that you don’t care when they arrive.

And in one episode he offers a charming take on the importance of local newspapers to a community. “They’re not for reading,” his character, a reporter, says. “They’re for being in.”

Anyway. Speaking to the New York Times, Gervais had this to say about the modern outrage cycle:

Twenty years ago, if you saw something on TV that offended you and you wanted to let someone know, you would’ve had to get a pen and paper and write, “Dear BBC, I’m bothered.” But you didn’t do it because it was too much trouble. Now with Twitter, you can just go, “[Expletive] you!” to a comedian who’s offended you. Then a journalist will see that and say, “So-and-so said a thing and people are furious.” No. The rest of us don’t give a [expletive] and wouldn’t have heard about it if it hadn’t been made a headline. Everything is exaggerated.

The most frustrating example of this I can think of from the past year was the “row” over the video of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s teenage dancing. “Conservatives are offended”, read headlines based on, quite literally, one anonymous tweet.

While we’re talking about Ricky Gervais, I did greatly enjoy this part of his recent Netflix comedy special, in which he talks about how people behave on Twitter when it comes to becoming irate at posts that have nothing to do with them:

*(or rather, post-Derek, surely one of the most underrated programmes ever shown on British television)