It’s the start of Hollywood award season, and that normally means pretentious people winning awards for films you don’t care about and using their success to spout left-wing politics and lecture the viewers. As a result, viewing figures tumbled year on year, and it would take a miracle for people to care again. Or a British comedian, ready to give Hollywood the kick up the backside it has wanted for ages. Ricky Gervais has form for offending and taking the mick out of Hollywood elites – but he kicked off the 2020 ceremony with a barnstorming performance that could hopefully turn the tide in the culture war.
It is worth repeating his closing statement in full, because it couldn’t be more accurate: “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 you agent and your god, and fuck off. No-one cares about your views on politics or culture.”
For too long, actors have presented themselves as our moral superiors, and it’s fantastic that someone with a platform finally called them out
For too long, actors have presented themselves as our moral superiors, and it’s fantastic that someone with a platform finally called them out. Currently, we’re being lectured on climate change by people who contribute more than we ever will – someone who travels everywhere on their own private plane things that ordinary people are monsters because they may forget to turn a spare light off. The industry is so puffed up on its own self-importance, they think they can save the world by grandstanding and telling everyone what to think and do. Gervais went over their heads, speaking up for the little guy as he told the Hollywood elite where to stick it.
Let’s not beat about the bush – Hollywood is based on depravity, hypocrisy, selfishness and abuse. It’s full of people who think they’re better than everyone else, and nothing will persuade them otherwise. It’s an industry that allowed the abusers of women to go about their business for years because they had power and influence. And then, it started an internal movement and claimed it was uber-progressive and abuse-free because it got, like, three men fired. The same people who claim the Harvey Weinstein accusers are brave for speaking out are the ones who ignored the abuse when it was happening, simply because it was more beneficial to them to remain quiet.
Let’s not beat about the bush – Hollywood is based on depravity, hypocrisy, selfishness and abuse
Ricky Gervais joked about the situation (comparing it to the movie Bird Box, in which you survive by seeing nothing), and the Hollywood audience groaned at him. Meryl Streep scowled – a woman who called Weinstein ‘God’ was furious that someone dare make light of him. Gervais joked about Jeffrey Epstein not killing himself, and the audience groaned. But, as Gervais responded, Weinstein and Epstein were their friends, and it’s the sanctimonious Hollywood elites who mixed in the same social circles. They react badly because Gervais is revealing an uncomfortable truth to the world: that they are no better than these people.
Obviously, the reaction was mixed – Hollywood and its associated press quickly scrambled opinion pieces calling Gervais a jerk or a dick, to not speaking truth to power (because nothing screams helpful and powerless like multi-millionaire Hollywood elites) and, of course, for not joking about Donald Trump. They praised Michelle Williams, calling her brave for speaking about the need for abortion rights to a roomful of people who agree with that statement. They mocked Gervais’ suggestion that the ‘in memoriam’ had to be cancelled because it wasn’t diverse enough, suggesting that he was playing up the issue, as then penned pieces about the BAFTA nominations lacking diversity.
There’s nothing funnier than mocking people who can’t take a joke or, worse, are so stuck-up they can’t even imagine being the subject of one
They like it when comedians and celebrities speak the truth – unless, of course, the truth is something that implicates them. Gervais noted that the media tried to get him fired from this hosting gig for making ‘problematic’ jokes – he responded by highlighting how their own behaviour is far more problematic. Everyday people found it hilarious, highlighting the huge disconnect between entertainment and the real world. There’s nothing funnier than mocking people who can’t take a joke or, worse, are so stuck-up they can’t even imagine being the subject of one.
For too long, Hollywood has embodied wider problems in society – a culture that values only some opinions and will angrily shut down any others, one which condemns abuse if it can prove beneficial and makes people think that are superior to everyone else on Earth because they’re lucky enough to be in the movies. If there has every been a bigger sign that Hollywood should steer clear of lecturing, shaming and being disgusted by its audience, this is it. Maybe Hollywood will look at Gervais’ comments and the fact that everyone outside of Tinseltown agrees with them, and reflect on how to change for the better.
If you can make that statement believable, you’re a more convincing actor than any of them.