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Ricky Gervais, Man of the People

In a room filled with self-absorbed narcissists, one brave, slightly less self-absorbed narcissist had the balls to speak truth to power—and his name is Ricky Gervais.

If courage had a face, it would be a slightly overweight, pasty British multi-millionaire drinking a pint. Taking the stage to host his fifth and final (allegedly) Golden Globe Awards, Ricky spoke for us, the oppressed, six-figure earning, working middle-class, little guy.

I may not have ever flown on a private jet to a private island with a temple, but I got an upgrade to first class once, and those warm nuts have a way of seducing you into believing anyone cares about your shitty takes. In fact it was on that flight I was inspired to become an opinion writer. I appreciate your hypocrisy, Hollywood, it makes me feel better about my own.

So I get it, Hollywood. If this happened to me after a single first class flight, I can’t imagine what it must be like for you after a lifetime of warm nuts and constant flattery. It’s easy to understand how expensive gift bags and millions of dollars would make anyone feel qualified to lecture other people on public policy, private morality, global warming, or the complex geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

Because that’s what Hollywood has been doing. They’ve been talking down to us normals for decades. While we wait in Boarding Group D to schlep to the back of the plane, they recline on private jets with a private chef and tweet about how we should all go vegan. I doubt they even know what a boarding group is.

They have the audacity to call for an “economic revolution” after making fortunes off us working-class stiffs. They look down on anyone who doesn’t vote like them because they can’t possibly imagine a world in which they might be wrong. Fame has tricked them into believing they are the moral arbiter of all that is good and right and just in the world.

I, too, would think I was on the right side of history if everyone in the room agreed with me—or was afraid to disagree for fear of being blacklisted. They put themselves on a pedestal of their own making and give each other awards.

But the emperor has no clothes. And with a few pointed jokes, Gervais pierced their collective delusion, exposing the hypocrisy of Hollywood for what it truly is. As he so casually reminded them, these are the people who partied with Jeffrey Epstein and made movies with Harvey Weinstein. They take China’s money and look the other way at its human rights abuses, censorship, sweatshops, IP theft, and their most heinous crime, banning South Park.

I have to say, it was satisfying to watch a roomful of self-righteous celebrities be on the receiving end of a roast. Only a cheeky atheist comedian with a British accent could get away with saying, “So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and fuck off.”

Ricky’s genius is his ability to seamlessly transition from inside the bubble of the Hollywood elite to outside the bubble where the rest of us plebs reside. He directly ridiculed the showbiz royalty in their own court. He made jokes at their expense and their expense alone. One or two took it in stride. (Kudos to you, Leo.) Some groaned. Some laughed awkwardly. Some sat stone-faced, unamused—or perhaps they were the few who had just enough shame left to recognize the depravity veiled by the jokes. Or maybe they just had gas from all the warm nuts.

 

Follow Bridget Phetasy on Twitter @bridgetphetasy

Comments

  1. “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill.

    I think this quote probably best describes the state of play, in relation to wokeness, and the culture war. Liberals may describe the current trends in politics in the West as Populism, but what we are really seeing is a growing schism in the Left between upper middle class, university educated, woke kids and the blue collar workers that made up the Left’s traditional base. Particularly in the Anglosphere, there is a wholesale rejection of the oppression olympics, cancel culture, the belief in omnipresent racism (amongst other -ism’s), trans kids as a concept and trans women as athletes.

    Between them, Dave Chapelle, Ricky Gervais and a few other noteworthy comics such as Joe Rogan and Bill Burr, seem to have turned the flank of the other side of the Culture War. A recent Emerson poll put African American support of Trump at 34%, with Latino support even higher, so it can no longer be claimed that it is simply the case that the white working class “want their privilege back”. It turns out that many Americans, Brits and Australians love their country, don’t like it being denigrated and don’t appreciate the concept of a white male patriarchy, when they find themselves consistently the least powerful adult in their marriage, working hard in difficult jobs and struggling to pay the bills. Above all, the Left is not going to win any elections by insulting people, or calling them deplorables.

    I don’t like the situation. Historically, I’ve always been somewhat sympathetic towards the Left, especially on social issues. It isn’t good for Democracy, when one side of the aisle disqualifies themselves from effective opposition. Hopefully, when President Trump is re-elected for his second term of office in November, it will lead to a greater degree of soul-searching across the Anglosphere- but I wouldn’t hold my breath…

  2. Gervais is heroic. I hope he still gets gigs! Many lesser names who simply do not toe the party line do not.

  3. I watched an online video of the monolog last night and while observing the audience reactions I reminded myself that schadenfreude is a sin.

  4. Only in France. In Germany, it’s a noun.

  5. It’s hard to pick out a favorite, but this one …

    We were going to do an in memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people that died, it wasn’t diverse enough. It was mostly white people and I thought, nah, not on my watch.

    And this one …

    Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.

    Love this guy.

  6. I watched the monologue in preparation to read this article. Pretty funny! And yet another sign that wokeness is on the decline. It’s not surprising that comedians would be the first to go turncoat, since it’s very difficult to be funny when your ideology is predicated on taking offense.

  7. A Ricky monologue always sparks some genuine mirth. To me, the amazing thing was he was allowed to go on at all, what with criticizing the high-holy of transgenderism and whatnot. This is the beginning of the end for woke-ness I predict, I heard the expected disdainful sniffing on the CBC today but it was clear the diverse trio had nothing to threaten him with.

    Here’s a related article https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jonathan-kay-the-main-victims-of-progressive-cancel-culture-are-progressives-themselves

  8. I’ve always loved Gervais for his unwillingness to hold back. He does what a comic should do – go after sacred cows. To all the conservatives cheering him on, make no mistake: If he was doing a roast at a GOP event, it would be just as brutal. Even so, as someone who’s sick to death of Hollywood’s preaching, I was absolutely delighted to hear him skewer the self-important, smug egos filling that room.

  9. I watched some of his former awards monologues and they’re just as brutal. The roasting is just what he does (and he does it so well).

    The reminder that Hollywood people are out of touch and in no position to tell anyone how to live or what to do was new and welcome though.

    What’s funny is that while it’s almost certain that nobody in that room actually heard and received that message…the rest of the planet nodded their heads in collective agreement.

  10. In the past you could not do better than such gatherings of media elites for examples of insufferable and pretentious smugness. To also use another military metaphor, the “shot heard round the world” at Lexington and Concord was not a victory and this was not either. It does however indicate the deplorable rabble have been roused and these neo-aristocrats with their sanctimonious lectures no longer have the people cowed. It is notable that Gervais’ best lines barely elicited laughter with no applause and unless the affectatious attendees had adopted jazz hands, those who sat on their hands should take note the enormous positive response to Gervais from outside their bubble.

    Whether you support Brexit or Trump, or whether you care for Gervais’ brand of humor, these are definite signs the cultural hegemony of the hypocritical ruling class is being openly and effectively challenged and that is cause for hopeful celebration. Those who feel they are the target of Gervais should quit chattering and listen instead.

  11. Sick of Hollow-wood stars? #MeToo

  12. Yes, I noticed a lot of them felt uncomfortable. Much harder than hearing “F* Trump” and giving a standing ovation.

  13. And Tom Hanks expression of smug self righteous indignation made the whole thing even more enjoyable. I’m glad I won’t waste money on him anymore. At least Di Caprio had the self deprecation to laugh along.

  14. The worst enemy is a false friend. So is it time to reconquer the left, or time for schism? They say that in the UK, what with the Corbynites stretching so far into wokeness, schism has been contemplated. Mind, a working person’s Labour would trash woke Labour so quickly that the latter would have to come crawling. Might be the best way to get it done?

  15. It definitely never hurts to remind prominent, high-status people that just because they happen to be good at pretending to be someone they’re not or that they’re rich and famous does not mean that any of the hoi polloi ought to give a hoot what they think about, say, healthcare policy or immigration. Somehow, this is apparently a hard thing to remember. Kudos to Mr. Gervais.

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