Perhaps you’ve heard of comedian Ricky Gervais, or rather his hysterically scathing commentary on Hollywood, including some of the most famous icons alive. This happened at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards last night, and quickly became a social media hit.
The only place I could (quickly) find the full video of his intro to the “Globes” was on Caleb Hull’s twitter account. I promise, it’s not to be missed.
I’m writing this because, as you know, I’ve been critical of awards ceremonies, particularly in the world of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve made numerous commentaries, including Jeannette Ng’s Campbell Award Acceptance Speech and Here We Go Again, Are the Science Fiction “Culture Wars” Still Alive and Well?, The Hugo Award Will Not Be Renamed and Why Are All Conservatives (seemingly) Called Alt-Right?, and Once More On Awards And How Your Heroes Will Never Be Perfect.
I’ve suspected more than one awards ceremony has been politically rigged to bias heavily in one direction (left), and last night, Gervais illuminated his live and television audience with just how true this mess in Hollywood is (as if we didn’t know, but it’s nice to have confirmation).
Before I dig into it, I heard on the radio driving home from work today that, unlike the Oscars, where experts in each field which represents an award category, must do the voting, for the Golden Globes, only around 90 members of something called the Hollywood Foreign Press Association do the voting. It sounds like the idea of the Golden Globes is just to promote American films overseas.
So just how relevant or objective are the Golden Globes? Maybe that’s why Gervais felt he could be so cheeky. After all, it’s a rather small venue, and although it’s packed with entertainment industry luminaries, it may not be as significant as one might imagine.
Even Mike Glyer’s File 770 SF/F “fanzine,” where I get the vast majority of my awards news, posted the 2020 Golden Globes Winners, but unlike a lot of his other posts, this one garnered not a single comment. In other words, none of his reader base cared either.
The traditionally objective (for the most part) Associated Press (AP) tried to present a more even-handed take on the Golden Globes, and were at least somewhat critical of the Gervais monologue.
But Gervais certainly took more his fair share of acidic criticism from The Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and most of all, from Jezebel: A Supposedly Feminist Website (yes, that’s what it’s called).
Of course, he was praised by more conservative news outlets such as The Federalist.
He responded to his critics on twitter with a very simple:
“Thanks for all your amazing comments about my Golden Globes monologue. Best reaction ever and that means a lot to me,” penned the comedian before adding “I had a blast but thank f*ck it’s over, so I can get back to my real job of editing #AfterLife2 and touring #SuperNature. Make Jokes, Not War”.
I read this and immediately followed him on twitter.
I mean, people always mention “speaking truth to power,” but that usually only flows in one political direction. When it happens in the opposite direction, suddenly it’s a bad thing. Why?
People who dislike Gervais’ monologue forget that the core of comedy, before runaway political correctness, was that you could be critical of anyone or anything. After all, Mel Brooks made one of the 20th century’s funniest movies Blazing Saddles (1974) by offending almost everyone. I mean that film dropped more “N-bombs” than the Allies dropped ordinance on Nazi Germany during World War Two. And Brooks got away with it because back then, people weren’t conditioned to faint at the slightest “off color” joke.
More recently, Brooks, who thankfully is still alive, said We Have Become Stupidly Politically Correct and It’s Killing Comedy.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld refuses to play college campuses anymore, stating:
“[The younger generation] just want to use these words,” Seinfeld said. “‘That’s racist, that’s sexist, that’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what they’re talking about.”
The topic came up when Cowherd mentioned to Seinfeld that Conan O’Brien made a Caitlyn Jenner joke two days before her interview with Diane Sawyer. Cowherd believes that, had Conan done the joke two days later, he would have been labeled a “bigot.”
This led Cowherd to ask Seinfeld whether the climate is concerning, particularly on college campuses.
“I hear that all the time,” Seinfeld said. “I don’t play colleges, but I hear a lot of people tell me don’t go near colleges — they’re so PC (politically correct).”
I guess nobody’s ever heard of Don Rickles, who died in 2017 at the age of 90, and who, for decades, made a comedy career out of offending everyone.
The reason something is funny, even if it’s offensive, is because it contains a truth no one wants to talk about. A lot of comedians have suffered in their careers back in the day because they knew this, practiced this, and were even arrested for this.
Don’t believe me? Ever hear of Lenny Bruce? Here’s just one bit that got Lenny arrested.
According to Mental Floss:
If you’re going strictly by his arrest record, comedian Lenny Bruce is the King of Obscenity. From 1961 to 1964, Bruce was arrested four times for using all kinds of salty language. Arrest #1 was made on October 4, 1961, at the Jazz Workshop in San Francisco, after he used the word “c***sucker” in a show and also did a bit called “To is a Preposition; Come is a Verb.” Though he was acquitted, law enforcement started keeping a close eye on him, which resulted in arrest #2 for his use of the word “schmuck,” the Yiddish word for penis. Arrests #3 and #4 both happened at the Cafe Au Go Go in Greenwich Village in April 1964, where undercover agents said he used more than 100 obscene words. In 2003, New York Governor George Pataki posthumously pardoned Bruce for the last two charges.
Read more about his arrests on Wikipedia and Obscenity Case Files: People v. Bruce (The Lenny Bruce Trial).
Compared to his predecessors, Gervais is a choir boy.
Here is the full text of Ricky’s opening monologue. Warning, he pulls no punches and a lot of people have already been offended, so if you think you might be offended, don’t click the link.
I toyed with the idea of posting the full text of his opening speech, since I don’t trust the internet not to “poof” it in the name of political correctness. However, this was the payoff for me. Warning, contains profanity:
Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama. A superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. So, well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for. I mean, unbelievable: Apple, Amazon, Disney. If Isis started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? So if you do win an award tonight, please don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no 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 fuck off.
Unfortunately, most of the celebrities who went on to accept Golden Globe awards ignored Ricky and tortured the audience with their political messages. You can read about them thanks to the L.A. Times who thinks it’s a good thing. More’s the pity.
Celebrities do not have the corner market on moral truth, political truth, or social truth. They only have access to a much larger and more adoring audience than we mere mortals.
The chances of me winning an award for anything are slim to none, so I guess I’ll never know what I’d say if given the opportunity. I hope, should a miracle occur, that I’d follow Ricky’s advice, “accept your little award, thank your agent and your God and **** off.”
Well, maybe I’d just say thanks instead of that last part, and exit the stage.
11 thoughts on “How Ricky Gervais Offended Everyone in Hollywood and Restored My Faith in Comedy”
I’m a Ricky Gervais fan and I enjoyed his monologue on the Golden Globes the other night. In a Friday Flashback post in July, I resurrected a post I wrote in July 2011 on my old blog about the oxymoron of politically correct stand-up comedy and I expressed some of the same concerns you expressed in your post. Here’s a link if you care to read it: https://fivedotoh.com/2019/07/05/fandangos-friday-flashback-july-5/
Thanks. So far, I haven’t received too much push back on my blog post, but I expect some.
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I perceive your enjoyment to be based in a point of view pertaining to reality (not only an ability to pull off a character on-stage while serving as host). Yet, Gervais is in show business himself… could very well be in the groupings of stars at the awards in the future. (May also have been in the past, but I’m not going to search that out.) Nevertheless, I thought the shtick was funny (for the most part).
Ah, I found it funny, but my immediate thought was he’s the court jester of the Hollywood, so of course he can say this shit.
I actually don’t know that much about him. I mainly enjoyed the nervous discomfort of his audience.
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Some people can’t get enough of those who make fun of Greta… or female consideration.
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