Wednesday, January 19, 2011
When comics attack: in praise of Gervais @ the Golden Globes
Go Ricky! Go Ricky!
"As a comic in all seriousness," it's bizarre to ponder the hostility directed at Ricky Gervais for his emceeing gig at Sunday's 68th Golden Globes Awards; the general agreement among critics and viewers seems to be that Gervais was "mean," "disrespectful," and "not funny."
At this point, everyone knows what he said: Charlie Sheen hires hookers, Mel Gibson shouldn't drink so much, Tom Cruise (or is it John Travolta?) is lying about his sexual orientation, Tim Allen is washed up, the cast of Sex and the City is airbrushed on the movie posters, the Golden Globes hands out awards based on bribes, etc.
"The star-filled international ballroom at the Beverly Hilton Hotel" was not overly impressed, as evidenced by the (mostly) unsmiling stares, "Ooohs," and occasional angry retort - pretty much proving Gervais' point: actors are self-important jerks.
Critics, of course, get paid to criticize, but "the regular people" defending the celebrities remind me a lot of "the regular people" who were recently against "tax cuts for the wealthy" in the U.S. - let the millionaires defend themselves!
As my therapist friend once said to me, "Does a lion need anyone to defend it in the jungle?"
Some more thoughts on "the controversy:"
1. The Golden Globes are mostly irrelevant anyway, and the organizers should be grateful for whatever "post-awards talk" they can get. When's the last time the Globes had "buzz?
2. As Letterman - famous for never being invited back to host the Oscars - asked on the Late Show last night, "When did this all become so sacred?" In other words: where's the memo that says that celebrities are off limits?
3. Folks should get a sense of humor. I saw one person on TV speculate that Ricky Gervais was actually under the impression that Bruce Willis is Ashton Kutcher's dad. Uh, no: it was a joke!
4. Like with any comic who's supposedly "off color," people tend to embellish what the comedian has actually said. Remember Sarah Palin saying that Letterman told a joke about her child being raped? Oh, sure. Likewise, Gervais never said that Tom Cruise was gay: that's what people who saw it are saying.
5. We always hear that America is the most free and open country in the world. But a beer-guzzling Brit can show up, tell a few jokes, and shock it to the very core?
7. Sarcasm, and dark wit in general, is celebrated in England and rarely works in America. As a drunk guy in a British pub once said to me, "Enjoy England. I don't."
8. In North America, it's a great sin to insult someone. It should be "not having a comeback" or - even worse - "not being able to take the joke."
9. Why would you hire Gervais if you didn't want him to be like Gervais?
I saw Gervais tape his HBO stand-up special in New York a few years ago (I took the blurry photo, above, at the taping), in which he reiterated the Richard Gere/hamster urban legend, and told jokes about a British anti-rape ad campaign, God's existence, and the first guy who contracted AIDS (given the choice between admitting to having sex with a monkey or eating a monkey, both man and monkey agree: "I ate 'em.").
When an alligator - or a comic - bites, no one should be surprised. It's what they do.