Ricky Gervais and the Challenge of “New Hollywood”

Cultures change in time. Regardless of the ‘shock and awe’ surrounding his latest Golden Globe Awards intro, the messaging has not changed. But will the business continue to listen?

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The day after Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globe Awards for the fifth time, on January 5, 2020, Harvey Weinstein was charged with sex crimes in Los Angeles.

This came as no surprise to those following the news, and perhaps less of a surprise to those celebrities in the Golden Globes audience who once turned the other cheek before pivoting to career-preservation mode.

Those who, in other words, spent a sleepless night or two awaiting Gervais’ latest round of savagery.

Ricky Gervais is a brilliant businessman. He works in show business and has skewered his associates on the Globes platform on four previous occasions, knowing he’d be asked back for an equivalent or higher payday. In other words, his takedowns are expected. That’s what he’s paid for.

It’s the same shtick every time too. He says something along the lines of “this is the last time I will be hosting these awards,” only to return and say his piece while the control room closes in on the most impactful and surely to be memed of all celebrity reactions.

To be clear, Gervais won’t lose any jobs over his hosting routines. Further, many who work in Hollywood are honest, terrific people. There is no sarcasm in that comment. But, there are those recognizable many who joked about Weinstein’s predilections over the years, who looked the other way and ignored the violations while yapping during private industry gatherings and in front of television cameras on other awards shows.

#MeToo happened and that was the end of that. Suddenly, those same celebrities were bombarded with interview requests and expressed shock! Consternation! Outrage!

Publicists worked overtime. Nerves were rampant.

Hollywood is a circus of contradictions. The casting couch and other realms of sexual misconduct were scourges in the entertainment industry since its beginnings. Everyone knew it. Immediately following Gervais’ latest hosting opus, social media was awash with Donald Trump sycophants laughing at “leftist Hollywood.” Gervais was suddenly a hero in far-right circles.

Few in that group knew, however, or otherwise ignored the fact that Ricky Gervais is an outspoken critic of the current President of the United States and his policies.

The following is a word-by-word transcript of Ricky Gervais’ opening monologue on the 2020 Golden Globe Awards. As you read, contemplate where you land with his words. I’ll tie it all up at the end.

My comments are in bold.

Ricky:

Hello and welcome to the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards, live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel here in Los Angeles. I’m Ricky Gervais, thank you.

You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore. I’m joking. I never did. I’m joking, I never did. NBC clearly don’t care either … fifth time. I mean, Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars for some offensive tweets. Hello?

Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English and they’ve no idea what Twitter is, so I got offered this gig by fax. Let’s go out with a bang, let’s have a laugh at your expense. Remember, they’re just jokes. We’re all gonna die soon and there’s no sequel, so remember that.

But you all look lovely all dolled up. You came here in your limos. I came here in a limo tonight and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman. No, shush. It’s her daughter I feel sorry for. Okay? That must be the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to her. And her dad was in Wild Hogs.

Lots of big celebrities here tonight. Legends. Icons. This table alone … Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro … Baby Yoda. Oh, that’s Joe Pesci, sorry. I love you man. Don’t have me whacked. But tonight isn’t just about the people in front of the camera. In this room are some of the most important TV and film executives in the world. People from every background. They all have one thing in common: They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He’s coming for ya. Talking of all you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies. Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland, Two Popes. Shut up. Shut up. I don’t care. I don’t care. Ronan Farrow, the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who exposes pedophiles and other sexual deviants in and out of the business of Hollywood. Gervais is joking about Weinstein’s ilk here, not unlike those other jokes over the years … to a group he implies may be committing the same crimes. He may not be wrong in instances, but the embarrassed crowd shuffled and tried to laugh it off.

Many talented people of color were snubbed in major categories. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that. Hollywood Foreign Press are all very racist. Fifth time. So. We were going to do an In Memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people who died, it wasn’t diverse enough. No, it was mostly white people and I thought, nah, not on my watch. Maybe next year. Let’s see what happens.

No one cares about movies anymore. No one goes to cinema, no one really watches network TV. Everyone is watching Netflix. This show should just be me coming out, going, “Well done Netflix. You win everything. Good night.” But no, we got to drag it out for three hours. You could binge-watch the entire first season of Afterlife instead of watching this show. That’s a show about a man who wants to kill himself ’cause his wife dies of cancer and it’s still more fun than this. Spoiler alert, season two is on the way so in the end he obviously didn’t kill himself. Just like Jeffrey Epstein. Shut up. I know he’s your friend but I don’t care. See my comments about Weinstein, above. Same.

Seriously, most films are awful. Lazy. Remakes, sequels. I’ve heard a rumor there might be a sequel to Sophie’s Choice. I mean, that would just be Meryl just going, “Well, it’s gotta be this one then.” All the best actors have jumped to Netflix, HBO. And the actors who just do Hollywood movies now do fantasy-adventure nonsense. They wear masks and capes and really tight costumes. Their job isn’t acting anymore. It’s going to the gym twice a day and taking steroids, really. Have we got an award for most ripped junky? No point, we’d know who’d win that.

Martin Scorsese made the news for his controversial comments about the Marvel franchise. He said they’re not real cinema and they remind him about theme parks. I agree. Although I don’t know what he’s doing hanging around theme parks. He’s not big enough to go on the rides. He’s tiny. The Irishman was amazing. It was amazing. It was great. Long, but amazing. It wasn’t the only epic movie. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere and by the end his date was too old for him. Even Prince Andrew was like, “Come on, Leo, mate.You’re nearly 50-something.”

The world got to see James Corden as a fat pussy. He was also in the movie Cats. No one saw that movie. And the reviews, shocking. I saw one that said, “This is the worst thing to happen to cats since dogs.” But Dame Judy Dench defended the film saying it was the film she was born to play because she loves nothing better than plunking herself down on the carpet, lifting her leg and licking her ass. (Coughs.) Hairball. She’s old-school. Old school non-PC fun, right? Saying this off-camera, though, is a major risk today.

It’s the last time, who cares? Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you’re woke but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? Speaks for itself — there is a great deal of truth here — and just may be the most cutting quip of the night.

So 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. 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, okay? It’s already three hours long. Right, let’s do the first award.

My questions to all of you, now that you have read the comments … Where do you stand? Is there a place for a host like Gervais to have fun cutting an entitled crowd down to size, or are his own jokes of this nature part of a larger problem?

Further, and perhaps more importantly, is the entertainment industry capable of sustaining its new public morality … in private?

Thank you for reading.

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Joel Eisenberg is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and producer. The Oscar in the profile pic isn’t his but he’s scheming. WGA and Pen America member.

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