Ricky Gervais recently received both celebration and condemnation from the internet for his delightfully shameless monologue at the 2020 Golden Globes awards. Most of these awards ceremonies are indistinguishable from one another; over the past few years, they have consistently been the same drivel. An actor steps onto the stage after winning to lecture us about cutting down on climate change and wealth inequality, before going home in their private jet to a multi-million dollar estate. Gervais lambasted the entire culture of Hollywood, and for good reason.
Hollywood has disgraced itself in recent years by a combination of overt political activism and complicit non-actions in outing Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, and casting couch culture. Everyone knew what was going on with these sex offenders, and yet no one came forward. People who have been put on a pedestal by a society that glorifies entertainment figures receive excessive compensation, then proceed to lecture the rest of us on how to live our lives. They’ve been acting in such a hypocritical manner that it’s no surprise that Gervais’ roast resonated with so many ordinary people.
The media response to Gervais is just the latest in a stream of occurrences all emphasizing the same point. The press, the Academy, and others have been consistently attacked as being out of touch with the working man. Gervais’ speech brings all of them down to earth simply and magnificently. His critics are the same people he’s attacking, as many in the media establishment who have been criticizing Gervais can’t stand to be made fun of. Yet again, one of the most fundamental rules of comedy proves true: jokes are funniest when they’re based in reality.
What we saw from Gervais at the Golden Globes was the sort of comedic performance which has been sorely lacking on awards stages in recent years. The no-holds-barred approach is very effective at attracting greater interest and ratings for a television staple which has been dying recently. I hope Hollywood gets the message, and brings in more comedic performers like Gervais in the future. It may be the only way to salvage an awards portfolio that, based on recent ratings, is in free-fall.