Jonathan Ross Is An Asshole

I would prefer to take my weekends off, but last night, this happened.

Jonathan Ross, on his popular ITV chat show, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, ran the following bit about Thailand’s airline that now runs crews consisting wholly of transgender ‘kathoey’:

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?”

Disgusting. Simply disgusting.

He later addressed a trans woman calling him out on this behaviour on Facebook as “Sir. Madam. Whatever.”

Ross typically presents himself as an advocate for LGBT rights. He has an openly lesbian daughter, and believes it’s important for her to live in a tolerant, accepting society where she isn’t taught to feel ashamed of who she is. So why does he feel it’s okay to make jokes at the expense of trans women? One of the most disenfranchised, downtrodden, abused and mistreated groups in our entire culture? Sure, when it’s his daughter who belongs to the minority, he champions her rights and ability to feel accepted and loved. But when it’s someone else’s daughters in question, he can shame and ridicule them to his heart’s content.

If you’re in the UK and are as pissed off by this as I am, please contact Ofcom and let them know you do NOT consider Ross’s comments appropriate.

Otherwise, feel free to spam the hell out of him on twitter, @wossy.


I am really sick of this kind of thing…


      • michaeld says

        I’m completely unsurprised by this at all. There seems to be an abundance of men with real issues about gay,trans and just other penises in general. I honestly have no idea whats going on in their heads.

        Non sequitur, go canadian appropriation of american and british spellings! Magic Canada powers away!

          • says

            Yeah… the CAMH hold an extremely controversial spot in the trans community. It’s not uncommon for Canadian trans women to include “Move. Don’t go to CAMH” as their first piece of advice for new transitioners in Toronto.

          • Utakata, pink pigtailed Gnome of death says

            Hey, Natalie….if I think I know where you’re going with that, I wonder if could do a piece on CAMH sometime, (formaly known as the *Clark Institute I believe – they’re just down the road from me. 🙁 ). They’ve made some…um…”interesting” claims about transgenders over years. I think it’s about time to expose them for their flummery…I mean “conclusions” for what they are. That is, pretty much bunk to my understanding.

            *Note: I think these where the same folks that also concluded sometime back that bi-sexuals don’t exist. LGT just doesn’t have the same ring to it as LGBT if this where ever true. Just saying.

            …and sorry for the OT reply.

          • says

            I can try doing so, but I’ve got a pretty extensive backlog of topics for future posts already, especially in the wake of asking readers to send in their questions. Like… I’ve literally got like 60 topics I want to get to. And I need to pace things out or I’ll burn myself out. So, I’ll try to do put together something on CAMH for sometime in the next few weeks, but can’t promise much more than that. Sorry!

          • Utakata, pink pigtailed Gnome of death says

            Oh okays…good! It’s on your list to do’s at least. Thanks very much! 🙂

      • Ramel says

        I firmly believe that for maximum effect you should always try to insult people in their own language. Not least because it gives you a reason to learn how to swear in other languages, which is a fun project in itself =)

  1. Praedico says

    “So why does he feel it’s okay to make jokes at the expense of trans women? One of the most disenfranchised, downtrodden, abused and mistreated groups in our entire culture?”
    Unfortunately, I think you just answered your own question there. Trans women are kind of an invisible minority to mainstream cis people, it seems (although nothing like as invisible as trans men). So it’s ok to make fun of them, because it’s not like they exist or anything…

    I haven’t actually watched the show yet, since I hardly watch TV, but I will look into complaining via Ofcom as I live in the UK.

    • Praedico says

      I’ve just watched it, and wow… I was kind of hoping that he delivered it in a way that might make it slightly amusing, but no. It’s just offensively stupid.

      This bit: “it’s not just the oxygen masks that fall down in front of your face” mystifies me. What is it with people and this strange paranoia that trans women (and apparently, only pre- or non-op trans women exist) will waggle their genitals in your face?

      Oh, and just for the sake of correctness, the show is on ITV, not BBC.

      • says

        Yeah I know… why would you think we have any more interest in publicly displaying our bodies than any other woman? I’ve heard stories of people literally running in fear and accusing trans woman of having been “about to show it” and similar absurd reactions. It just demonstrates the total lack of rationality with which people approach us, and their total inability to comprehend our position. They instead make it all about THEM and THEIR fears and insecurities, totally not even bothering to weigh that against reality at all.

        • Praedico says

          I think maybe it’s down to the general worry that transphobic straight guys seem to have that they might be attracted to a woman, get into a sexy situation and then be exposed to the horror of seeing a penis; which would (in their minds) mean they were attracted to a man, and therefore gayer than gay gay gay.

          Anyway, I’ve sent a complaint to Ofcom, hopefully they’ll get plenty more.

          • Ace of Sevens says

            It doesn’t help that horndog confronted with a penis and dead hooker are basically the only situations where you see transpeople much in the media.

  2. Ace of Sevens says

    (This is danrudolph. I just figured out how to fix my display name.) I think asshole is apt. If I had to guess based on other things he’s said, he probably is generally devoid of empathy and can’t see how he can be a phobe when he promotes legal equality. He’s a rough equivalent to all those guys on feminist threads who like making rape jokes, but don’t actually advocate raping women and can’t understand why they are being accused of misogyny.

  3. Anders says

    Does anyone have a link to the show? YouTube clip?

    Paris Lee’s link only works within the UK (or, at any rate, doesn’t work in Sweden). I’m loath to critique something I haven’t seen.

    His twitter-comment is enough to convince me that there is quite a lot to critique. I can only say that I’ve never heard of him before – that may injure him more than any invectives I could hurl his way… (he does, however, have a Swedish Wikipedia site so he’s not completely unknown over here. More’s the pity.)

    • says

      Sadly, I don’t think a clip will be available outside the UK this soon after broadcast. But it’s probably something worth doing searches for.

      The transcript alone, however, speaks volumes. It’s hard to imagine his delivery somehow salvaging that from the garbage heap of blatant transphobia.

      • Ace of Sevens says

        The sad part is, there are plenty of good jokes one could have made about the situation with a little effort think outside the “OMG that chick has a penis” box.

      • Marshall says

        IMPOSSIBLE to imagine, in my estimation. This is the absolute lowest form of comedy. It requires no effort or talent, just the ability to be really, really mean and dismissive toward people who aren’t you. There aren’t, as far as I know, any little changes in inflection that could ever make this appropriate, and I for one will not accept any of the likely rationalizations and hand-waving. The ONLY appropriate response is a sincere and genuine apology.

        I’m not holding my breath.

        • Praedico says

          George Carlin had a talent for sometimes saying things that should have been tremendously offensive in such a way that even though I knew I should be offended, I would still laugh.

          Jonathan Ross is no George Carlin. He has been, and always will be, a talentless prat. The effect of actually watching this is one of slowly escalating disgust.

      • Ace of Sevens says

        The clip may show up in news coverage. That’s textbook fair use. So far, you and the article you linked are the only news coverage Google knows about, though.

      • Anders says

        Well, if he said what the transcript says… I’m actually rather happy I’ve never heard of him. And I’m quite content never having to hear of him.

        But it appears I’m an idiot. I’m at the site you linked to… and there’s no place to write a scathing reply! Except for the Ask Us place to the right and that’s clearly not the right place.

        So I’ll write down what I want to say, and maybe someone can explain to an old man how to navigate the Interwebs.

        “Jonathan Ross.

        I’ve heard about your show on ITV 27/1. As I understand it you made some comments about transgendered people. Not much to talk about, a cheap laugh and a few acid comments… except that’s not true.

        Thanks to you there are thousands of people in the UK whose lives have become colder. And greyer. And smaller. Who will go to sleep with cries of ‘ladyboy’ echoing in their ears. Maybe it will awake some merry memories, who knows?

        Like being punched in the guts because you collected My Little Ponies instead of Transformers. Sure, you had to crawl to the infirmary. Sure, everyone in the schoolyard took turns to spit in your hair (but spit washes off – humiliation doesn’t). Sure, you stayed home for three weeks and had to do summer school, but hey! It was a joke! Life is hunky-dory!

        Or maybe the time they ‘baptised’ you in the school toilet? Did you know that you can hold someone’s head under water for three minutes without causing permanent harm? Although harming a ‘ladyboy’ isn’t really cause for concern anyway. Still, it’s just a joke! Nothing to be alarmed at.

        Or maybe the first time you tried to go out in women’s clothing. The excitement, the preparations, the laughter… the man in the club who recognised you and wondered why his decidedly male colleague was dressed up ‘in drag’. The laughter as he tore your necklace off (it was a gift from a friend but let’s not be petty here)… and the cries of ‘ladyboy’ as you limped home and then sat in your apartment crying and cursing whatever cruel twist of fate made you this way.

        But surely this has nothing to do with Jonathan Ross, successful program host, right? He didn’t do any of these things, right? He just made a joke. Lighten up Sir. Madam. Whatever.

        But when the next generation of bullies and ‘ladyboys’ grow up, what kind of society will they live in? Will they live in a society where there are groups that are ok to bully or will they live in a society where bullying – for whatever reason – is out of bounds. Well, Jonathan Ross, you have shown us clearly what kind of society you prefer. And it’s not one I want to share with you.”

  4. otrame says

    Well, you know, the groups it is okay to bully are getting fewer and fewer. I mean, it used to be easy. You used to be able to feel superior to almost everyone, due to race, religion, gender, sexual preference, location of birth, etc. You could bully at will. These days people look askance at you if you are mean to, well, almost everyone. And now you want to take away the transgendered, too.
    What is the world coming to, I ask you.

  5. Jo says

    I’m a little confuse; does you normally watch him and this segment pissed you off or does you not watch him normally and b/c it went against this specific group that you learned about him?

    If it’s the second, I don’t see a problem with being outraged (as long as it extends to all groups). If it’s the first, I have to point out that it it be a least a little hypocritical as this is nothing new from him.

    • says

      Um… well, I haven’t exactly had a platform until recently through which I can voice whatever objections I have to transphobia in the media. I’m WELL aware of the ubiquity of these kinds of jokes. It doesn’t make it hypocrisy to periodically point out especially egregious examples, especially when I’ve only had this blog for six days, and during that time this is the first instance extreme enough for me to want to speak out.

      Furthermore, this blog has specific areas of focus. One of the main ones is transgender issues. I reserve the right to treat that as a priority topic, and to allow other blogs with different areas of focus to address other types of bigotry. I’m not obliged to address ALL forms of social inequality in order to have the right to discuss one of them.

      I did periodically watch Ross when I lived in England. Since moving back to Canada, no, for somewhat obvious reasons.

      • says

        i think the point was that ross is a bigoted jerk a lot, and thus someone who watches his show regularly (presumably because they enjoy it) but then gets upset when their specific group is the target of his bigoted jerkitude would be a bit of a hypocrite.

        why that hypothetical situation was brought up as possibly applying to natalie is beyond me, though

        • Jo says

          Thanks for understanding what I meant about the hypcracy, which seems doesn’t apply in this case.

          I wasn’t trying to pose a hypothetical situation; I simple didn’t know if she the owner of this blog regularly watch the show or not and that’s why I asked instead of assuming. I guess by adding my view point on the differences I confused the matter.

  6. Shattered says

    Really, really a shame. People who behave so ignorantly in the first place burn my britches, but the people who advocate LGBTQ rights and then ignore the T and Q, I can’t wrap my head around it.

    • Nepenthe says

      To be fair, they often do a great job of ignoring the B as well. And the L should probably be lower case and perhaps written in a 10 point font. (At least this is my experience with many mainstream “allies”, YMMV.)

  7. Ace of Sevens says

    Jonathan Ross has apologized.

    @monsterstomp the intention was never there to upset, and i regret my thoughtlessness. I am all about acceptance and equality for all.

    @weezie_tyd The gag was perhaps cheap but it was not meant to reinforce stereotypes . Also I am not going to hide behind ‘free speech.’

    This isn’t a big apology, but is definitely above a notpology. He does seem to understand what the problem was, at least.

    • Anders says

      I hear Natalie is waiting for him at Castello di Canossa. As well she should be. Three days in the snow will give him plenty of time to think.

  8. judykomorita says

    He and Tim Minchin are good buddies – that’s how I heard of Rossy. Maybe Minchin said something to him. That’s a shitty joke to try to make. Good that he figured out something was wrong.

  9. says

    His responses to me:

    @PuffyZA I’m actually meeting with a TS acquaintance and a blogger on the subject to discuss.

    @PuffyZA I was insensitive and that was wrong. As ever am working towards being a better person.

    It seems like a decent response to me. He acknowledges his mistake and is working to address it.

  10. Tualha says

    Coming rather late to this, was going back through the archives. Am I wrong to think that apologizing on Twitter for being offensive on television is insufficient? I’d have to guess that a heck of a lot more people saw the joke than saw the apology. Once he’s done his homework and gotten a clue, he really should apologize on his show.

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