Netflix is facing a boycott from its subscribers over Jimmy Carr’s joke about Gypsies and the Holocaust, as Downing Street today joined the condemnation.
The under-fire streaming service also faces a 13,000-strong petition set up by traveller campaign groups calling for it to take action over the joke.
The comedian and TV host, 49, sparked outrage with a joke about the Holocaust in his recent one-hour Netflix special, His Dark Material.
In a widely-shared clip from the show, Carr joked about the horror of the Holocaust and ‘six million Jewish lives being lost’.
As a punchline, the stand-up comedian, also known for his roles on shows like 8 Out Of 10 Cats, then made a disparaging remark about the deaths of thousands of Gypsies at the hands of the Nazis.
‘But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis. No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives,’ Carr quipped to a laughing audience.
Boris Johnson‘s spokesperson today said it was ‘unacceptable to make light of genocide’ and suggested the Government could push for a crack down on platforms who ‘fail to tackle harmful content’.
Meanwhile, Sajid Javid became the latest high profile name to wade into the row – describing the comedian’s joke as ‘horrid’.
In a rare intervention, the Health Secretary also urged people to send streaming service Netflix a ‘very strong message’ by ‘not watching or listening’ to the stand-up star.
His comments come following criticism from comedians including David Baddiel, who previously slammed the joke as ‘racist’ and ‘inhumane’.
The Traveller Movement, a charity supporting the traveller community in the UK, said the joke in question was ‘truly disturbing and goes way beyond humour’.
And the charity has launched a petition calling for Netflix to remove the segment of the programme ‘which celebrates the Romani genocide’.
Today the petition, labelled ‘The Genocide of Roma is Not a Laughing Matter’, had been signed by more than 13,500 people.
Boris Johnson’s (pictured today in a visit to Kent Oncology Centre in Maidstone) official spokesperson today said it was ‘unacceptable to make light of genocide’
Sajid Javid has today become the latest high profile name to wade into the Jimmy Carr traveller joke row – describing the comedian’s gag as ‘horrid’
The Health Secretary also urged people to send streaming service Netflix a ‘very strong message’ by ‘not watching or listening’ to the stand-up star (pictured)
The petition states: ‘In Netflix comedy special “His Dark Material”, Jimmy Carr “jokes” that the Romani and Sinti genocide is ignored when people discuss the Holocaust because people don’t want to “focus on the positives”. This is nothing short of a celebration of genocide.
‘We appreciate that comedy is subjective but in our view when punchlines are indistinguishable from the genuinely-held views of fascists and Neo-Nazis, a line has very clearly been crossed.
‘We acknowledge that Jimmy Carr highlighted the widespread ignorance that exists with regard to non-Jewish victims of the holocaust, but it was nevertheless incredibly crass for him to claim his ‘joke’ therefore had an “educational quality”.
‘If this was the case he would have used his considerable platform to raise awareness of Roma Holocaust Memorial Day to his 6.7m followers. To our knowledge, that has never happened. That speaks volumes.
‘There is no legitimate basis for this ‘joke’, and no positive to its inclusion which outweighs the profoundly negative impact it produces.’
Meanwhile social media users today joined the condemnation, with some calling for people to boycott Netflix over the row.
One wrote: ‘Jimmy Carr’s “joke” was premeditated. He began by saying that he was going to tell a joke to end his career. Looks like he succeeded.
‘BTW I gave it the thumbs down on Netflix, when I checked for myself, hope others have done the same.’
Another wrote: ‘Hit Netflix where it hurts, boycott Netflix. Hit Jimmy Carr where it hurts. Force venues to cancel his shows. Sheffield acted to cancel the show of a vile comedian who operates in the same gutter.’
Today the PM’s spokesman weighed into the row, saying in a statement: ‘These comments are deeply disturbing and it is unacceptable to make light of genocide.
‘Broadly we are looking at toughening measures for social media and streaming platforms who don’t tackle harmful content on their platforms and that is what we are moving forward for.
‘Obviously we are looking at regulatory changes for those streaming companies.’
Asked if Netflix should take down the Carr show, he added: ‘That will be a matter for them, we are clear that mocking the atrocities of the holocaust is unacceptable. What we are focused on is making sure that the streaming services are more accountable and moving forward with our legislation.’
Meanwhile, Mr Javid had his say on the matter, telling Times Radio the joke was ‘horrid’.
He said: ‘I think we all have a right to react to that, and one of the best ways anyone can react to that is show these platforms what they think about Jimmy Carr by not watching or listening to him, and that will send him a very strong message.’
Mr Javid is the second cabinet minister to comment on the row. His comments come after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries suggested new laws could hold to account streaming sites including Netflix for airing jokes such as those made by Carr.
Speaking on BBC Breakfast last week, she said: ‘We are looking at legislation via the Media Bill which would bring into scope those comments from other video on-demand streaming outlets like Netflix.
‘So it’s interesting that we’re already looking at future legislation to bring into scope those sort of comments.’
Meanwhile, fellow comedian Baddiel, a close friend of Carr who has written widely about anti-Semitism, has also criticised him over the joke, describing it as ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘cruel’.
He said: ‘You can obviously tell a Holocaust joke that is cruel and inhumane and mean-spirited and racist.
‘Or you can tell one that targets the oppressors, or draws attention to the fundamental evil of it, or shines and light on the humanity of the victims.
Jewish comedian David Baddiel (pictured left) slammed Carr for joking about the Holocaust on stage. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty (pictured right) has called for police to probe Carr’s joke about gypsies killed in the Holocaust
‘It’s not the subject matter of the joke that counts, it’s the specifics of the individual joke. Clearly, Jimmy Carr’s was the former.’
Elsewhere, Irish traveller and bare-knuckle boxer Paddy Doherty said the ‘disgusting’ joke was an insult to the 1.5million gypsies exterminated in death camps.
He told the Sunday Mirror: ‘He should be investigated by the police.
‘That wasn’t a joke. He’s talking about mass murder being a positive – would he be allowed to say this about black people killed by the Ku Klux Klan?
‘There’s a level you don’t go to. More than a million of my people were killed.’
The joke was condemned Labour MPs including Labour’s Nadia Whittome and David Lammy who described it as ‘despicable’.
It is estimated that between 200,000 and 500,000 Roma and Sinti people were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Carr’s joke sparked outrage from various traveller charities and anti-hate groups after a clip was shared on social media.
In a tweet referencing the joke, The Traveller Movement – a charity supporting the traveller community in the UK, said: ‘This is truly disturbing and goes way beyond humour. We need all your support in calling this out #StopTravellerHate @StopFundingHate.’
The charity have now launched a petition to Netflix calling for the ‘removal of the segments of His Dark Material which celebrates the Romani genocide’.
Olivia Marks-Woldman OBE, Chief Executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, added: ‘We are absolutely appalled at Jimmy Carr’s comment about persecution suffered by Roma and Sinti people under Nazi oppression, and horrified that gales of laughter followed his remarks.
‘Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti people suffered prejudice, slave labour, sterilisation and mass murder simply because of their identity – these are not experiences for mockery.
‘The widespread ignorance of this recent history needs to be addressed and we urge everyone to learn more about the past and the experiences of Roma people today.
‘Roma and Sinti people still face dreadful prejudice as this incident shows. Please show your support by learning more, challenging hateful comments like these, and following accounts such as Roma Support Group, The Traveller Movement, and Friends, Families and Travellers.’
Carr issued a ‘trigger warning’ to the audience at the beginning of the show, admitting his performance contained ‘terrible things’.
Speaking during a recent gig in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear, he told his audience ‘The joke that ends my career is already out there’.
A woman in the audience heckled Carr by saying, ‘Are we going to talk about the Holocaust?’ the Mirror reported.
Carr replied: ‘We are going to talk about cancel culture, the whole thing.
‘We are going to talk about f***ing everything people. Relax.’
He later said: ‘We are speaking my friends in the last chance saloon. What I am saying on stage this evening is barely acceptable now.
‘In ten years f***ing forget about it. You are going to be able to tell your grandchildren about seeing this show tonight.’
Carr and Netflix have been contacted for comment.