Vir Das, the Indian actor and comedian, issued a statement on Sunday acknowledging that he “messed up” after getting called out for transphobic jokes in a recent episode of his comedy series Ten On Ten.
In the fifth episode of the series that released on YouTube on Tuesday, Das makes jokes on gender pronouns, trans people, privilege and cancel culture.
Das begins the episode titled Tribalism & Cancel Culture vs Comedy by talking about cancel culture and says he experienced it recently when he had tweeted a joke on pronouns: I am so stupid. I think my pronouns are just ‘huh’.
He mentions getting called out by “fellow liberals” for the joke and says he deleted it immediately. However, he continues, when some people told him that he cannot make jokes about pronouns, he then really wanted to because it is the “equivalent of saying you cannot joke about the government.”
Das adds that he is not comparing trans people to the government “because trans people have the courage to discard an organ if it isn’t working properly.” He goes on to joke about gender pronouns, saying, “Your kids will have a longer chapter in school when they learn pronouns.”
Several people called out Das for making transphobic jokes and pointed out that accountability is not ‘cancel culture’ and accused him of not having understood the complexity of genders and of “normalising transphobia in an effort to salvage his bruised ego.”
Demanding that he take down the video, an Instagram user with the handle @paralleldimensions, who identifies as she or they, wrote that Das has “mocked and infantilized” pronouns by making jokes that punch down on trans and non-binary people.
On Thursday, Das posted a response on Instagram claiming that his comments were taken out of context. “Lots of people seem to be discussing a single screen shot of half a sentence removed and posted out of context from my new video,” he wrote and went on to share screenshots of other parts of the video to illustrate the “points actually said, and errors acknowledged in the SAME video, where I make fun of myself and ALL sides.”
However, on Sunday, the comedian put out another statement on Instagram, admitting that he got the “joke wrong.”
“My intent in the moment, was to say trans people have courage the government never ever could and it was set up wrong and uninformed. I messed up. It had the opposite effect and trivialized your struggle. Articulating my intent effectively is my responsibility, not yours. I got that joke wrong. Plain and simple. No buts,” he wrote.
Das further added, “I’d like to be an artist who unabashedly, deliberately, uncomfortably pushes the line every single day, and never stops acknowledging his audience, always using their voice as his guide. A conversation, where the focus is them, always.”