I’ve never called myself a big fan of Jonathan Ross. I’ve enjoyed him on shows like They Think It’s All Over and Penn & Teller: Fool Us (though neither of those were a success because of him), but he’s never been more than an ‘alright’ entertainer. To an extent, I actually found him fairly likeable, in the same way one might find Ant & Dec kinda enjoyable. Unfortunately, all that’s changed.
Last Saturday, on his fairly popular ITV1 chat show, Ross started his show with this little doozy:
Have you seen this story, I love this story today, a Thai airline, a company called PC Air has announced an exciting new recruitment policy – they’re going to recruit more ladyboys to be air stewards! [pauses: audience laughter]
Unlike most airlines, they’re actually encouraging you to take a concealed weapon on board, it’s a whole new, it’s a whole new (just waiting for some of you) it’s a whole new (I would! I think I have for one of them…)
The biggest shock on that plane is when the plane hits turbulence because it’s not just the oxygen masks that fall down in front of your face. [audience express disgust]
What a great way to spend a flight though, because you wouldn’t need puzzles or movies, because you’d just be, “Is she? Is he? Is she?” And when you want to find out the answer you just press the buzzer and go, “Excuse me, do you have any nuts?”
Unsurprisingly, this has gone under the radar, not least because the actual joke was rather lame. However, things have gathered steam since Paris Lees bought it to the attention of the masses (read all about it here). So why should you care? Why should anyone care?Here, I outline five reasons, in no particular order, as to why I will be complaining to Ofcom. I know some of these, well most of these, don’t have any bearings on what has been said. But these points have kinda pushed me into action.
5# The story is old
Remember the hooplah about Russell Howard’s Good News last year? Where he did a sketch concerning trans stewardesses on a British budget airline? Well, Wossy’s ‘jokes’ were based on the same story. A story from a year ago. So, not that fresh really. Especially if Russell Howard got there first.
But here’s the thing; it wasn’t even news when it appeared on Good News. In fact, the story was a good few months old by that point. In Russell’s defence, his show wasn’t on the air when it broke. So why bring it up when it’s not only old, but not even that major in the grand scale of things? It’s an important step for the transwomen of Thailand, sure, but no bearings on the average person in the UK.
It seems it was just for a cheap laugh, at a minority that regularly faces such bullshit on a daily basis. But that’s not the only issue here…
4# It wasn’t even a good joke
It’s no secret that most trans jokes are offensive. There are many out there that find them hurtful, and don’t like the way they live their lives to be mocked just for a cheap laugh. And to an extent, that’s the same way I feel about most of them. Although I’d be a hypocrite if I wanted them banned outright – I’ve laughed at non-PC jokes on the likes of South Park and Family Guy in the past.
My problem with them, and particularly this one, is that so many of them are lazy. Really lazy. Ross’ joke is simply that he’d ask the stewardess if she has ‘nuts’. That’s literally it. I’m not gonna explain about how offensive that can be (read Paris’ blog, for she does a good job of that). Instead, I just wanna point out how shit it is.
The whole extent of the joke is that the stewardess’ may or may not have testicles. It’s hardly high brow. But it’s not even original. Name any comedian that’s ever done a joke about trans people, and I guarantee it goes along the same lines. It’s all “chicks with dicks”, “I’m a laydee”, or blokes dressed like drag acting way over the top. These things are never done with any affection either, it’s just dull as hell to hear comedians or TV shows come out with the exact same jokes on trans people. I honestly don’t know what’s worse, that it’s offensive or that it’s lazy writing. But then, I seem to be the only one who sees that.
3# Transphobia needs to be taken more seriously
Nothing ever came of the complaints made about Russell Howard’s Good News. Partially this was because not many people complained. Only 34 people, in fact. This time, it needs to be challenged more seriously. No sitting on the sidelines, thinking Trans Media Watch are gonna handle it. Contrary to popular belief, they don’t control TV input.
So it’s up to us to take a stand. Just like it’s not acceptable to make discriminatory jokes about other minorities, we need to actually do something for a change. If you are offended, go to Ofcom. Don’t expect others to do it for you. That was the problem we had with Good News; too many people were lazy and thought everyone else would do the work for them. Obviously they didn’t. Don’t make the same mistake this time.
2# Ross proves he’s a bigot
This is the big one. A lot of this could have blown off quite easily. In the grand scheme of things, Ross’ hilarious jokes aren’t the worst comments trans people have endured. But Wossy kinda shot himself in the foot here. Most celebrities can’t seem to take criticism of any sort, and Ross is no exception. Once people caught on about his jokes he started getting people criticising him for being a prick. Then he decided to respond to one of them, and the shit hit the fan:
@cocoteacups lighten up Sir. Madam. Whatever
He’s free to defend himself, and even block people, but responding to someone in such a childish and offensive way has crossed the line. He’s a public figure, he should know better. Particularly after the shit he faced just a few years ago over his prank calls to Andrew Sachs.
He later tried to apologise (not before blocking a whole load of people, Trans Media Watch included), and made the comments that he’s not transphobic, but by then the damage had already been done. At the end of the day, he referred to someone, a human being, as a “whatever”. That’s just a disgusting way to speak about anyone, especially if they are calling you out for being a bigot. It kinda proves their point.
1# He blocked me on Twitter