In defence of the voice in the wilderness
Hollywood has clearly lost its taste for self-deprecation and self-effacement if its response to Ricky Gervais can be used as a barometer. The liberal press, surely its mouthpiece, was scathing in their reviews of his master of ceremony duties for the 77th Golden Globe Awards.
Almost unanimous in their condemnation of Gervais and his comments on the evening, their responses are a clear indicator of how far out of touch they have become with the American public. How their sycophantic pandering to Hollywood and a group of self-aggrandizing, pretentious and pompous actors and producers has overwhelmed journalistic integrity and common sense.
Take this quote from the Los Angeles Times.
The 58-year-old former Golden Globe winner (“The Office”) and five-time host also flippantly reminded the packed room that, “No one cares about movies anymore,” and advised, “If you do win an award tonight, 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.”
Meryl Streep shook her head. Eddie Murphy refused to smile. Quentin Tarantino looked more disturbed than usual.
It was uncomfortable. For the star-studded audience seated in front of the stage, naked and exposed in a way they’re not used to, I think the term border-line terror would be more accurate. You could sense the silent prayers that Gervais would not single them out by name.
It was the fifth time Gervais presented the Golden Globes. The looks on the faces of the celebrities, seated at their tables, hoping to escape his biting tongue, were priceless. As he walked on stage there was a palpable sense of apprehension. Even the viewers at home held their breaths, waiting in eager anticipation of this year's madness. When Gervais speaks you’re never quite sure what to expect.
His biting acerbic wit has no equal and the banal, flat toned delivery of his material leaves a distinctly queezy, politically and socially awkward aftertaste. He couches these uncomfortable and whispered truths in spiked barbs, hurled mercilessly at (deserving) individuals seated in the audience, he mentions names and he shames. It is distinctly uncomfortable to watch at times and the shock factor almost overwhelms the humor. Almost. He is genuinely funny.
The big question I’m left with when the show is over and Gervais has left the stage is why they invited him again? For a fifth time. Had it been up to the audience to select an MC for the evening, Ricky would have been sitting on his sofa in London, watching reruns of The Office. Just what exactly is it about this man that allows him to do what he does and get away with it?
He routinely utters comments and voices opinions that would, if voiced by anyone else, end their careers. He causes controversy with his social commentary and outspoken views on topics ranging from fat people to sweatshops in China.
I am starting to suspect the Gervais is not really a comedian. Not actually. The comedy is merely a front for the actual man. I think he is a revolutionary, an outspoken critic of society and the injustices he perceives in the world around him and at large. He is one of the last bastions in the war against political correctness and he uses humor as his weapon of choice. Comedy is, put simply, the messenger for his outspoken views.
Many comedians are also intellectually gifted. It’s often a prerequisite for really good humor. Gervais is no exception. His craft is carefully honed, his material not the result of improvisation, but rather a careful and considered process, involving rewrites and hours of work. He has a message and he wants to make sure you get it.
His success would seem to indicate we do get it. We recognize the multilayered approach, the uncomfortable truths he unmasks. We hear the echoes of our own unspoken thoughts in his words. He has become the Jiminy Cricket of society to our Pinocchios.
The liberal press’s condemnation of him is not reflective of general opinion. Outside the rarefied air enjoyed by the Hollywood elite, Gervais is loved globally. His series, The Office, won international acclaim and he continues to perform to sold-out venues.
In many ways, he has become our voice. We may ‘give a f**k’ but he doesn’t. He is not afraid to speak our minds for us and as uncomfortable as we may be, hearing our private opinions voiced allowed, these things need to be said. Even if only in humor.
Gervais is unapologetic for both his humor and his views. In a recent statement to an American publication, he had this to say on the subject of apologizing.
You mustn’t, because that’s the end. The end of satire and the erosion of freedom of speech based on people’s feelings will have a catastrophic effect. It’s not just that comedians will be a bit grumpy or won’t be able to say things. It’s not the same as not allowing Bernard Manning to say the N-word on TV. It’s something much, much darker and more Orwellian. It really is.
We need more voices like Ricky Gervais. A return to days of old, where self-depreciation and the ability to laugh at ourselves was considered a mark of virtue. A world where you could speak your mind and absorb the retaliatory blows in good nature.
Thank you Mr.Gervais.
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