Elon Musk, who once vowed to end world hunger, accuses Ricky Gervais critics of ‘virtue signalling’

Elon Musk has, to nobody’s surprise, weighed in on the controversy surrounding Ricky Gervais following criticism of anti-trans jokes in his latest comedy special, SuperNature.

Gervais has faced renewed backlash over the Netflix special, released on 24 May, with GLAAD describing it as being “full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes”.

Critics have panned the special as lazy, unfunny and offensive, though it has received a better response from Gervais’ fans.

The Atlantic staff writer Conor Friedersdorf noted the disparity between SuperNature’s critics and audience scores on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, saying that it was the fault of critics who seek to “virtue signal.”

Elon Musk, the world’s richest man who is currently in the process of buying Twitter for $44 billion, agreed, tweeting: “The ‘critics’ seek not to critique, but rather to virtue signal. They are out of touch with the people and so lose their credibility with the people.”

On October 31, 2021, Musk challenged the UN to explain how $6 billion of his fortune could solve world hunger, vowing to “sell Tesla stock right now and do it” if it could do so.

The UN produced a detailed plan. Musk has not yet solved world hunger.

Several users pointed out that using sites like Rotten Tomatoes, which are susceptible to “review-bombing”, is a difficult way to discern a set’s popularity.

“[I] do not know how in a post-Boaty McBoatface world, we do not understand that publicly accessible rating or voting systems can be easily gamed and cannot be taken remotely seriously,” says one user.

Another said: “I’ve said it before – the only thing Rotten Tomatoes audience scores are a metric of are people who think Rotten Tomatoes audience scores matter.”

Musk has previously been criticised for his own anti-trans content.

He said that while he “absolutely support[s] trans [rights]… all these pronouns are an aesthetic nightmare”.

It comes after Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defending Ricky Gervais’ special, as well as Dave Chappelle’s recent anti-trans material.

“Nobody would say that what he does isn’t thoughtful or smart,” Sarandos said in reference to Chapelle. “You just don’t agree with him.

“I think it’s very important to the American culture generally to have free expression. We’re programming for a lot of diverse people who have different opinions and different tastes and different styles, and yet we’re not making everything for everybody,” Sarandos continues.

Gervais recently defended himself in a spot on BBC’s The One Show where he said that comedy is about “getting us over taboo subjects.”

“I deal in taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn’t been before, even for a split second,” he said.

“Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target. It starts and they go, what’s he going to say? I tell the joke. Phew, they laugh.”

Queer media watchdog GLAAD commented on the special in a statement, saying: “It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric and spreads inaccurate information about HIV.”