Ricky Gervais blasts Apple at the Golden Globes for China ‘sweatshops’


Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., smiles while speaking about Apple TV+ during an event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple came home with no awards and a punch to the gut after Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards.

Comedian Ricky Gervais, who hosted the event, used Apple’s nominations for “The Morning Show” as an opportunity to skewer the company over its business dealings. The series, which premiered last year on the new streaming service Apple TV+ and follows a morning news show that becomes embroiled in workplace scandal, was nominated for best television series drama and received two nominations for best performance by an actress in a television drama series.

“Apple rolled into the TV game with a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China,” Gervais said as the camera panned to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the audience.

“So, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for, unbelievable,” Gervais said, referring to actors working on programming for streaming services from large tech and media companies. “Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

Apple has taken steps to promote healthy workplace environments in places where its devices are manufactured. The company says in its supplier responsibility report that it requires suppliers have appropriate safety protocols and fair working hours. In 2018, the report says, 96% of the 1 million supplier employees tracked complied with fair working hours.

Cook has frequently taken a moralistic tone in acceptance speeches, preaching about the importance of privacy, a feature Apple emphasizes in its own products and often criticizes peers for lacking. Cook has received awards for combating hate speech and for Apple’s sustainability initiatives from the Anti-Defamation League and the nonprofit Ceres, respectively.

Gervais warned against such a speech in the event that Apple were to win a Golden Globe.

“If you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech,” Gervais said. “You’re not in a position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real-world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and f— off.”

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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