No Host Would Actually Be a Lot Better
Last January, Ricky Gervais—who has hosted the Golden Globes four times before—claimed that if he had hosted the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards, "it would have been the end of [my] career."
He said this in the context of expressing his jealousy of Seth Meyers, who hosted that year. In a time of cultural shift and increased sensitivity to various issues, the "comedian" seemed to be suggesting that his particular brand of offensive and insensitive material would both flourish in that context and invite a harsh backlash. It's unclear what, if anything, has changed since then, but it has just been announced that the Hollywood Foreign Press is having Gervais reprise his hosting duties for a fifth time. Why?
Remember when Kevin Hart was bumped from hosting the Oscars because his apology for old homophobic jokes wasn't good enough? Well Gervais has never apologized for his bad jokes. In fact, he continues making them. He is proudly behind the times. He has made an ongoing point of expressing his passionate ignorance of trans issues as crassly and as often as possible. In his Netflix stand-up special, he "jokes" that he has "always felt like a chimp," and he's claimed in various tweets to identify as thin, black, a poor green lesbian, and a comedian. That last one is particularly galling. Can you really be a comedian if you just keep repeating one joke?
It wasn't that long ago that holding transphobic views was the accepted norm, and perhaps it's too much to expect boomers to adjust to new expectations so quickly, but if they want to hang on to their outdated ideas, they could at least do so quietly. Gervais refuses to shut up about his tired politics. Take this brilliant insight into the existence of trans women who haven't opted for—or haven't yet received—gender confirmation surgery:
And all the other times he's made basically the same joke (clearly I was wrong about him having only one joke that he keeps repeating—he has two). Ricky Gervais has made some great television and become a pioneer in early podcasting when he figured out that he could be mean to his friend for an audience. It's unsettling that someone who has contributed so much to culture, who is pretty clever in a lot of what he does, and who seems to have empathy in some matters could think such lame observations count as comedy.
He seems to revel in the suggestion that trans identities are perverse and that trans women who still have the genitals they were born with are fundamentally predatory. Maybe he thinks of his own p-nis as fundamentally predatory? Maybe he thinks that conflating homosexuality and pedophilia is still cool too. He's definitely not as comfortable with homosexuality as he likes to pretend.
He's also really cool and thoughtful when portraying a character with a developmental disability...NME
So why? Why is anyone involved agreeing to this? I suppose Ricky wants people to pay attention to his Netflix show After Life, and thinks his edgy, recalcitrant ignorance will really shake things up by reasserting a lot of old and tired ideas. And maybe the Hollywood Foreign Press thinks that this will get them the kind of loud, negative attention that they didn't get until after they announced Green Book as the winner last year. After all, there's no such thing as bad press…except the Hollywood Foreign Press. They suck.
Best case scenario: Gervais is right, and this last hosting gig will end his career. Still, it just seems like there must be a better solution. Hmm…
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Production on the end of the world has been a mess since day one
With June of 2020 nearly here and no sign of the final cataclysm we've been promised, it's beginning to seem like The End Times will forever be near, without ever being upon us.
While the early phases of civilization's collapse into a burning hellscape were promising, progress on the more dramatic culmination of armageddon has been repeatedly stalled by restructuring, miscommunication, and the high rate of turnover within the ranks of the Great Old Ones' loyal subjects.
"The slow burn is great and all," said John Knӕlgghyrt, née Phillips, who was briefly the high priest of Cthulhu's Dark Order—prior to being scooped unceremoniously into his lord's tentacled maw—"but trying to get the big stuff done has been a real challenge." The main struggle he points to is the lack of cohesion and structural order among the death cult working haplessly to hasten Earth's return to a state of desolation and chaos. "It's like herding cats sometimes. Insane, death-obsessed cats."
Pretending that homophobia doesn't exist misses the point.
In an episode of HBO's The Shop: Uninterrupted, Lil Nas X tried to defend his decision not to come out until he became famous—until Kevin Hart interrupted him.
Before Lil Nas could get a word out, Hart attempted to shut down the conversation when he said, "He said he was gay! So what?"
Lil Nas X then tried to explain himself further."I'm growing up to hate this sh*t," he said, trying to explain how difficult his upbringing made it for him to come out, but Hart interrupted him again and said, "Hate what? Why?"
The Shop: UNINTERRUPTED | Lil Nas X on Coming Out (Season 2 Episode 3 Clip) | HBO www.youtube.com
The comments would have been inconsiderate even if Hart had been a longtime defender of gay rights, but the actor has a history of homophobic comments. After he was tapped to host the Oscars last year, several homophobic tweets from his past appeared, and he lost the position.
As of today, it seems like Hart has altered his approach, but his comments to Lil Nas X clearly showed an internalized lack of consideration and care for queer experiences. As The Cut writes, the interview was a classic case wherein a "straight men bravely pretends being gay doesn't matter."
Hart's comments are exemplary of a habit that unites so-called allies and blatant racists: They're textbook examples of gaslighting, a.k.a. attempting to make people think that their own, very real lived experiences are invalid or imagined.
While they exhibit a clear lack of care, in some ways, Hart's comments are also emblematic of the bubble that is liberalism and the media. While it may seem like queerness has become widely accepted, this is far from true around the world and in many parts of America. Homophobia is alive and well, and as wealthy, cisgender, white queer people become more accepted across the nation, that doesn't mean that other demographics are getting pulled into rainbow-colored bliss along with them.
Queerness is rarely isolated from other issues like race and class. On average, black men who come out as queer are more likely to face economic hardship, harassment, and hate than white men, according to a recent report from Human Rights Campaign. Black trans people face even more violence, particularly black trans women, who constitute the majority of trans people killed in homophobic attacks.
This violence is why starry-eyed slogans like "love is love" will never be enough. If the systems that keep homophobia in place remain intact, then homophobia will also remain alive and well, especially if people stop talking about it or fighting for space to be who they are.
In truth, Hart's comments are far less malicious than the majority of what many queer people, particularly queer people of color, face every day. While part of the Internet is getting enraged about this story or the nuances of another Twitter battle, many are still struggling with their sexuality and feeling completely alone.
This is why Lil Nas X's decision to come out is so important. While niche Twitter battles and arty films tend only to reach specific demographics, resulting in feedback loops that simply echo what we already know, Lil Nas X's music has a more universal reach. His decision to come out might resonate with people struggling to come to terms with their sexuality, because—as a superstar beloved for his work, not someone merely defined by or famous because of his sexual orientation—he presents a uniquely powerful image that young black men, particularly those outside of supportive communities, can take heart from.
That said, the conversation around queerness will never be stagnant, and there will never be just one kind of queer person or way to speak about sexuality. Some queer people will prefer to remain in the closet, while others feel it's important to come out publicly (that's queerness 101), just like some transgender people prefer to use "they/them" pronouns while others don't want to or aren't ready to go through the trouble.
Similarly, some people would prefer not to be pigeonholed and asked about their sexuality in every interview—so in that, maybe Hart's comments had a grain of truth to them, though his delivery negated any positive impact they might have had.
Ultimately, if there's a singular rule that people like Kevin Hart, or anyone trying to show support for others, might follow, it's this: learn to listen.
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