Comedian Ricky Gervais is taken heavy criticism for his most recent Netflix stand-up special “SuperNature” in which he makes comments that some are calling transphobic.

"After Life" For Your Consideration Event
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One of the angles that Ricky Gervias comes at the issue with is that “10 years ago no one could have known that you could get canceled for saying ‘Oh, women don’t have penises’ “.

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Leave aside that I can’t think of a scenario where any conversation from 12 years ago would have contained the observation that “women don’t have penises”. I was more fascinated by the idea of what will be considered offensive. When you see old images of white performers in black face, we can all (most of us) understand why that is offensive and why it’s rightfully on the scrap heap.

Eddie Murphy and Jim Carrey don’t stand by their homophobic and transphobic material from their early careers. The “F” word for gay hasn’t been acceptable for a quarter-century and the “R” word for the mentally handicapped has been out for at least a decade.

31st Annual American Music Awards - Arrivals
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But, I just found out that there is an objection to one line from Tobey McGuire’s first Spiderman movie. In the scene where Peter Parker is wrestling Bonesaw (Randy “Macho-Man” Savage) Peter taunts him by saying something to the effect of “I like your pants. Did your husband pick them out for you”.  I don’t think anyone is making that out to be as offensive as, say, Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” but…yeah, some people are saying that the line is shockingly homophobic by 2022 standards.

One of my favorite burns is when I tell a friend, “Nice shirt. Do they make those for men?” Well, Nico, my millennial protégé says THAT is way over the line. Damn it!

Let’s do an assignment: what are things that are commonplace today that you think will be considered offensive…even barbaric…in the future? Please include the time frame of when these things will be too shocking for civilized company. Maybe my use of the word “civilized” will be considered prerogative. Maybe it already is. That’s how much we’re all flying in the dark.

My list…


1.)    Pugs

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I give this 10 years. Flat-face dogs like pugs and some bulldogs are popular because of the “so ugly they’re cute” mindset. There’s a condition called “brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome”.  Essentially, these breeds have serious trouble breathing and it’s only because those traits have been selectively bred into the animals. The more purebred the dog, the more pronounced the problem.

Also, I think the idea of “purebreds” is probably on the way out.  I already feel like if you’re dog ISN’T a rescue some people would look at you askance. Then again, I’ve read about rich people paying tens of thousands to CLONE their purebred pets so maybe this form of elitism will still exist in a hundred years.


2.)    Circumcision

Tribeca Film Festival 2014 Portrait Studio - Day 2
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Look, genital mutilation of FEMALE children is already considered a barbaric practice only done in the worst parts of the world.  I think in…oh, let’s call it 40 years…the practice of lopping off part of a healthy baby boy’s dong will be thought of in the same way: it still happens in some places but not anyplace you’d want to live.

The big issue is going to be religious.  Both Judaism and Islam have male circumcision.  In the present era, it’s easy to be against female genital mutilation because it’s associated with the Islamic world and in America, we associate that with backwardness and oppression. But male circumcision is very much a part of mainstream Judaism. Since we see Judaism as a “good” religion, many American Christians and non-religious westerners will see that as harder to condemn.


3.)    Plastics

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Have you read that some historians think one of the reasons Rome fell was because of lead? They ate off of lead plates, the water was run through lead pipes…lead was even used as a sweetener for wine. How about the way we used radioactive materials in just EVERYTHING before we knew how bad it was for you?

Plastics are OUR lead and radium! People in 50 years will wonder why we used SO MUCH of something that we KNEW was terrible, not only for us but for the environment. To you folks reading this is the future, I can only say, “It’s cheap, it’s convenient and in 2022 we still hadn’t mastered good risk assessment.”


4.)    Meat

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I should have said at the beginning: All of these entries are predicated on the assumption that we DON’T wipe ourselves out or screw up bad enough that we end up living in medieval conditions. Assuming that plant-based meat substitutes and lab-grown meat will get cheaper and, most importantly, BETTER TASTING…I think in a century, eating animals for food will be almost unfathomable for our great-great-grandchildren. Those plant-based burgers are actually pretty good! I’ll be ready to make the switch when they can make a blood-rare ribeye steak that tastes as good as an Impossible Burger.

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