WATCH: The Good Fight’s Joke About Selena Gomez Kidney Transplant Was Not Actually About Selena Gomez Kidney Transplant


Pop sensation Selena Gomez and her fans are calling out The Good Fight for a scene in which the characters make a joke about Ms. Gomez’ kidney transplant — that isn’t actually about the kidney transplant.

As a result of complications from lupus, Gomez underwent a kidney transplant in 2017, a fact that was referenced in an episode of the Paramount+ drama a few weeks ago. That refeence drew fire from fans, and eventually from Gomez herself.

“I am not sure how writing jokes about organ transplants for television shows has become a thing but sadly it has apparently,” Ms. Gomez wrote on Twitter. “I hope in the next writer’s room when one of these tasteless jokes are presented it’s called out immediately and doesn’t make it on air.”

But the joke wasn’t actually about organ transplants. In the scene, one of the characters is handing out permission slips to make jokes about subjects like “Black people” and “fats.”

One character asks “Is there anything we can’t do?”

“Necrophilia,” says another, promting the reply “No, that could be funny.”

Another character sayd “Autism,” and another says “Selena Gomez’s kidney transplant.”

The joke is about the limits of taste in the social media age, and more broadly about the capricious nature of what some call “cancel culture.”

It’s no more mocking organ transplants than it is mocking autism.

The backstory is that NBC/Peacock’s Saved By The Bell had already suffered a backlash from Gomez fans when the show repeatedly referenced the pop star’s transplant, references that were edited out of the show following the backlash.

But here’s how Variety described the scenes that were removed:

Despite Gomez’s public statement that she had received a transplant from her close friend, actor Francia Raísa, one scene from episode six of the series features two Bayside High students speculating about the identity of the donor.

“I know for a fact that Selena Gomez’s kidney donor was Justin Bieber’s mom. God, I wish that I had my phone so that I could prove it,” one student says. “Prove what?” the other replies. “That you’re an idiot? It was Demi Lovato’s kidney. They’re best friends, like you and I were.”

In a separate scene, there appears to be graffiti on a wall that reads, “Does Selena Gomez even have a kidney?”

Again, while the transplant was central to the jokes, the things being mocked were the ignorance of the characters and the social media age that fuels it.

None of which is to say that anyone is necessarily “wrong” for being offended by any joke. Gomez and her fans may have found one or both of these bits glib or trivializing, just as an autism advocate might’ve flinched at the reference as well.

I’m not a fan of the notion that “you need a permission slip” to tell a joke anymore, and I think concern over “cancel culture” is mainly a way to silence criticism from marginalized people and their allies.

But this gag serves as a meta-critique of the power that social media sometimes gives to narrow interests like pissed-off Selena Gomez fans, who managed to forever alter the canon of Saved By the Bell, while other groups struggle to make a difference in how they are represented.

Watch above via Paramount+.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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