Ricky Gervais gives his verdict on Will Smith hitting Chris Rock
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The legendary British comedian deemed the attack on his fellow comic “totally unnecessary”. In a live Twitter Q&A session, the After Life star, 60, told how he was “really annoyed” by the episode and people’s reactions to it, momentarily looking close to tears.
Anyone who tries to say that any freedom of speech justifies violence, that’s what f***ing leads to terrorism
The funnyman told his 14.7 milllion followers: “Anyone who tries to say that any freedom of speech justifies violence, that’s what f***ing leads to terrorism,” the dismayed star exclaimed.
“Whether you think he deserved it, whether or not you think words are violence… Chris Rock weighs about 140 pounds! He’s the most gentle man.”
He also stated that he recently felt compelled to block someone for insisting that words equated to violence.
“No, they’re not,” Ricky sneered. “Violence is violence – words aren’t violence!”
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He was speaking out in a live Twitter Q&A session, during which he was responding directly to fans’ most pressing questions.
One had asked: “What was your first reaction when you read about the Oscars slap?”
“Well first of all, I woke up on the Monday morning and I got texts from American friends going: ‘Ah, f*** that! Poor Chris!’ and I’m going: ‘Who is Chris?!'” he recalled.
“And then I saw it. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t know what’s going on in his life.
“I don’t know why he did it, no-one knows why he did it,” he mused, before deciding: “He’s got issues.”
“Obviously it was doubly shocking that it happened at the Oscars with everyone in tuxedos,” he continued.
Ricky went on: “Of course you see that sort of thing in bars on a Saturday night, but not the most privileged people on the planet slapping each other.
“Also the main thing for me was it was totally unnecessary, there was no justification.
“That annoyed me – people were saying ‘Oh, he deserved it, you shouldn’t tell jokes about people’,” he added, with an incredulous expression on his face.
There have been major incidents in the past when anger over freedom of expression has led to acts of terrorism, such as the infamous Charlie Hebdo attacks on a newspaper office in France back in 2015.
The satirical publication had produced an illustration of the Prophet Muhammed that had disturbed a fundamentalist terrorist group and caused them to storm the newspaper offices and murder journalists.
As a comedian whose edgy jokes can sometimes offend the sensitive, Ricky is acutely aware of the impact that intolerance to jokes can cause, perhaps especially to someone like himself.
Ricky also confessed during the Twitter chat that he hadn’t wanted to address the fiasco but felt forced to mention it as he had a warm-up gig scheduled the following night.
He knew the Oscars would be the elephant in the room if he acted as though the incident didn’t exist.
“I went out and said ‘I’ve got no Will Smith material’ and [the audience] laughed in recognition,” he recalled.
“[After I addressed it] I trended on Twitter – I wasn’t even there, nothing to do with me!”
He added in amusement: “That was like the tamest joke I would ever have told.”
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