Let's get one thing straight: Ricky Gervais is an absolute jerk.

He's incredibly condescending about his atheism, he's defended transphobia, he's mocked Anne Frank, and he's generally built a career around making people uncomfortable. He's also pretty f*cking brilliant. The original creator of the international phenomenon The Office, Gervais' brand of clever cringe humor has helped to shape the direction of comedy for the last decade. As such, he was tapped to host the Golden Globes first in 2010, when he quickly set a precedent for edgy jokes made at the expense of the award show's famous guests. His obvious disregard for the status quo and willingness to offend powerful people was oddly refreshing, earning the awards show some of their highest ratings in years, resulting in Gervais returning as host for a record five times as of 2020.

This year, Gervais quickly made it clear that he planned to go for shock factor even more than usual, saying, "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." He then went on to absolutely lambaste the Hollywood establishment, earning many dropped jaws and even an irritated look from Tom Hanks. His most controversial comments included:

"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."

" 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.'"

"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."


And then, finally, perhaps most scathing of all, he closed with: "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 f*ck off, OK? It's already three hours long."


It soon became evident that many of the award presenters and winners ignored Gervais' advice. Michelle Williams called on more women to engage with politics, Jennifer Aniston delivered a brief speech calling for climate action on Russell Crowe's behalf, and Patricia Arquette denounced Trump and called on everyone to vote in 2020. And while each of these statements were met with applause from the audience, they also rang a bit hollow in the wake of Gervais' assertion that these ultra-rich, privileged celebrities know nothing of the real world. Jennifer Aniston is worth $240 million, Russell Crowe is worth $95 million, Michelle Williams is worth $16 million, and Patricia Arquette is worth $24 million dollars– meaning that each of these celebrities benefit from the system of late capitalism that has brought about the rise of the far right and climate change.

But isn't it still admirable that they chose to use their platforms for advocacy? Or is it simply hollow virtue signalling meant to make these extremely privileged people seem compassionate and "woke" in the eyes of the public? But if these kinds of statements make a positive impact regardless, does it matter? Do we have any reason to believe there is any positive change actually brought about because of political award show acceptance speeches? Is it all smoke and mirrors, like the rest of Hollywood?

Or maybe these aren't the right questions at all. Maybe what we should be asking is why anyone gives a sh*t what actors have to say in the first place. Gervais is right, at least, in that many of the glamorous guests at the Golden Globes aren't college educated, have been removed from the financial struggles of your average American for years, and generally exist in an isolated bubble of privilege. Though, one has to wonder what gives Gervais the right to engage in these conversations if he's so vehemently discouraging other celebrities from doing so. Afterall, his net worth is estimated at $130 million, so what does he know about the real world, either? One glance at his Twitter account makes it clear he is no stranger to political conversations, and he obviously takes great pride in feeling superior to other celebrities and Twitter users. One thing is clear: Gervais did not make such a controversial speech because of some genuine desire for change. He said what he said to stir controversy, to make himself feel superior, and to illicit reactions from the room. But that doesn't mean he was wrong.

Perhaps one has to ultimately conclude that all of it is nothing but a distraction from the only hope to save our world from its cycle of decay: big, structural change that can only happen as a result of a complete overhaul of our political system, culture, and collective perspective. Maybe celebrities have nothing to do with it. Maybe they're a part of the problem and can't be a part of the solution no matter how political they get when accepting shiny statues from antiquated and racist institutions.

CULTURE

The Farewell's "Foreign Language" Categorization Proves the Golden Globes Are Racist

The only possible justification for categorizing Inglourious Basterds as "American" and The Farewell as "Foreign Language" is racism.

A24

"Many talented people of color were snubbed in major categories," said Ricky Gervais during his contentious host monologue at the 2020 Golden Globes. "Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about that; the Hollywood Foreign Press are all very, very racist."

Gervais' monologue seemed to rub a lot of Hollywood's elite the wrong way, but that's for good reason. Examining one's own hypocrisy is oftentimes uncomfortable, and Gervais, in spite of his recent transphobic Tweetstorm, made some saliently "woke" points at the Golden Globes. As Gervais pointedly "joked," the Golden Globes are, indeed, racist. To prove that, one need not look further than the categorization of Lulu Wang's The Farewell as a "Foreign Language" Motion Picture.

The Farewell, directed by Chinese-American filmmaker Lulu Wang, tells a deeply personal story about a Chinese-American girl's relationship with her family. It is a distinctly American story (Wang has been living in the US since she was 6) told from the perspective of a Chinese-American girl whose life experiences hinge on the crossroads between two cultures. While much of the film's dialogue is spoken in Mandarin, the American upbringing and cultural sensibilities of the main character, Billi (Awkwafina), is both essential to and inseparable from the narrative thrust.

First things first, let's get technicalities out of the way. Technically, the Golden Globes categorize a Foreign Language film as "a motion picture drama, musical or comedy with at least 51% non-English dialogue." So yes, technically The Farewell meets the criteria. But technicalities have long been used as justification for upholding racist practices, so if we truly want to assess whether or not the Golden Globes' categorization is racist, we need to examine their Foreign Language category not from a technical standpoint but from a practical one.

Practically, "Foreign Language" categories of major awards shows have, perhaps somewhat misleadingly, been used to distinguish foreign-made films from American-made ones (The Oscars recently changed "Best Foreign Language Film" to "Best International Feature Film). In other words, the basis for categorization is typically the country of origin, rather than the actual language. This makes sense, because categorizing an American-made movie as "foreign" based on language alone is, effectively, a form of Othering Americans who grew up in non-white communities. In their adherence to such a technicality, the Golden Globes are an outlier.

The bigger problem, however, is that the Golden Globes don't actually apply their criteria across the board. Since 2000, the Golden Globes have nominated six American-made movies for their Foreign Language category: Apocalypto, Letters From Iwo Jima, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Kite Runner, In the Land of Blood and Honey, and now, The Farewell. But at least one Golden Globe-nominated movie that technically fits their "Foreign Language" criteria is missing from the list: Inglourious Basterds. That's because Inglourious Basterds, over 70 percent of which is spoken in French, German, or Italian, was apparently still eligible for "Best Motion Picture - Drama."

Inglourious Basterds The Weinstein Company

So what sets Inglourious Basterds apart from the other "Foreign Language" movies on the list? With the exception of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, which had an American director but was produced by a French company in French-language, every other entry primarily features non-white characters having "foreign" experiences in "foreign" countries. Inglourious Basterds, even while not primarily spoken in English, is a distinctly American story about mostly American characters from an American perspective. Therefore, the Golden Globes decided that in spite of it meeting the "Foreign Language" criteria, Inglourious Basterds is still "American."

But here's the thing: The Farewell is just as "American" as Inglourious Basterds, if not more so. The only possible justification for categorizing Inglourious Basterds as "American" and The Farewell as "Foreign Language" is racism.

In a year when not a single female director was represented in any of the "non-Foreign" categories, and non-white actors were underrepresented in almost every other major category, the Golden Globes made a conscious decision to categorize one of the best female-helmed, POC-centric movies of the year as "Foreign." Stranger yet, Awkwafina was nominated for and (very deservedly) won "Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Drama" for her role, while the movie was deemed ineligible for the matching category. Of note, Awkwafina's win made her the first Asian-American woman to ever win Best Actress at the Golden Globes.

Awkwafina Golden Globes Mike Blake / Reuters

Ultimately, if any members of the Golden Globes' audience took offense to Gervais' roast of their hypocritical sensibilities, perhaps they should take a moment for introspection. Of course it's admirable to use one's platform to advocate for social progress. But how much progress can one really tout while on the stage of an awards show still mired in the Othering of Asian-Americans in 2020? At what point do we accept that Hollywood, too, continues to uphold the same racist institutions it pretends to condemn?

CULTURE

Climate Change Won't Be Solved by Celebrities Flying Coach

At the Golden Globes, Waller-Bridge and Aniston joined a litany of celebrities calling for action in the face of devastating wildfires.

Russell Crowe wanted the world to know that he wasn't at the Golden Globes because his country is on fire.

And what better way to let the world know about something than to get beloved actress Jennifer Aniston to read it out loud?

In the speech she gave in Crowe's honor, Aniston said that Crowe wasn't at the awards ceremony because he was "at home in Australia protecting his family from the devastating brush fires." She continued to deliver a pointed message: "Make no mistake, the tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future."

Crowe had received the award for Best Actor in a Limited TV Series or Movie for his work in The Loudest Voice, but as we all know, all the awards in the world don't matter when your home is on fire. The bushfires in Australia have killed half a billion animals and 24 humans, have displaced six thousand people, and have eviscerated nearly 1.65 million hectares. According to scientists, these fires were driven by a lack of rain and low soil moisture, a direct consequence of climate change.

Crowe and Aniston aren't the only ones taking action for Australia. The mastermind behind Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is auctioning off the sequined suit she wore to the Golden Globes and will donate the money to disaster relief.

"We worked with Ralph & Russo, who are the Australian designers who created this couture suit ... which is the most extraordinary thing I've ever worn, and we're going to auction it," Waller-Bridge said of her decision to sell the suit.

Many other stars have also voiced their support for those affected in the disaster, which is certainly indicative of a much, much larger global problem that is already a reality for so many people. Lizzo pointed out that the fires are part of an interconnected web of decay that is damaging our entire planet.

"Being over here in Australia has really given me a real time view into what's happening with these devastating fires and for all of my followers who are mostly American, I just want to say that this is a global crisis," she wrote on Instagram. "These CO2 emissions will affect the entire earth. All of our atmosphere, all of our air."

Even Paris Hilton had something to say, along with Camila Cabello, Kylie Jenner, Maria Sharapova, and many others.




While it's inspiring to see so many people speaking out, it's also true that many of these celebrities are part of the overarching problems that created this issue in the first place—which is capitalism.


Though it's clearly a problem that celebrities hypocritically take private jets while tweeting about how sad they are about dead koalas, the problem is even deeper than that, and it won't be solved by a few famous people flying coach. The issue is our global reliance on fossil fuels—and our refusal to put laws into place that actually regulate the industry that profits off of them. We have tried and failed to rely on the altruism of the global elite. It's time for the systemic, democratically conceded implementation of processes like the Green New Deal to mandate the redistribution of wealth and a transfer to renewable resources.

In order to prevent more of what's going on in Australia, we shouldn't just sporadically funnel money into disaster relief or content ourselves with a few celebrity platitudes. We need to embark on a global effort to combat climate change on a massive scale before it torches us all.

TV

The 77th Golden Globe Awards, Starring the Climate Crisis

Actors used their acceptance speeches to speak out on the tragic fires in Australia and other humanitarian issues.

Though the Golden Globe Awards are intended to honor the best of motion pictures and television, last night's ceremony occurred in the shadows of the multiple humanitarian crises occurring around the world.

Ricky Gervais' brash opening monologue set the scene for a night full of critical political commentary, and many actors used their acceptance speeches to expand on a multitude of issues, the most common topic being the fires in Australia that have killed over 20 people and millions of animals. Though that crisis is happening miles and miles away from Beverly Hills, it was only a few minutes into the Golden Globes that those fires hit close to home.

Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon together presented the nominees for Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture for TV, among whom Russell Crowe won. But the Loudest Voice actor wasn't there to accept his award; he was home in Australia helping to protect his family and his house from the fire. Aniston shared a message from him: "The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate change-based. We need to act based on science, move our global force to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future."

Australian Bushfires Given Spotlight At Golden Globes www.youtube.com


Stars like Ellen Degeneres and Cate Blanchett gave their hopeful sentiments to Australia during their speeches, while others like Joaquin Phoenix used the opportunity to call out some of their peers: "It's really nice that so many people have come up and sent their well wishes to Australia, but we have to do more than that," the actor said, accepting his Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture award for portraying the title character of Joker. "We don't have to take private jets to Palm Springs for the award sometimes, or back. Please. And I'll try to do better and I hope you will, too."

Michelle Williams used her speech to call for her fellow women to vote in the upcoming presidential election, while Patricia Arquette expressed her fear for potential war following President Trump's decision to assassinate top Iran general Qassem Soleimani last week. Gervais, however, was having none of it, pointing out the hypocrisy of Hollywood "wokeness."

"If you do win an award tonight, don't use it as a platform to make a political speech," the host urged. "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 f--k off, OK?"

Whether Gervais' suggestion was fair is up for a long debate, but the climate crisis was definitely the Golden Globes' surprise star.

FILM

Why Is Ricky Gervais Hosting the Golden Globes Again?

No Host Would Actually Be a Lot Better

People

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?

Gervais despair "After Life"

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:

Gervais c*ck tweet Hilarious...

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.

Gervais in "Derek" 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…

gervais host tweet

Humor

Watch Ricky Gervais make Jimmy Fallon uncomfortable many times on his own show

The Tonight Show becomes much more fun when Jimmy loses all control of his guest

Twitter

Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais stopped into The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night to promote his newest movie, David Brent: Life on the Road. The film resurrects Gervais's character from The Office, boss David Brent, who finally decides to pursue his dream of touring with a rock band. Besides the February 10th release date, you won't learn much more about the movie from Jimmy Fallon's interview with Gervais. That's because 1) Gervais is a master at awkward comedy and 2) Jimmy Fallon's strength isn't interviewing guests. The second reason can't hurt his show—viewers are tuning in for the skits and music—but the first reason, combined with the second, make this interview a classic example of Gervais's genius.

In less than eight minutes Gervais turns this one of his many promotion stops into a stand-up routine.

"You look great, by the way," Fallon says about two sentences into the interview. And from there, Gervais takes over. "I look great? Is that sarcasm?" He jokes about seeing through the fake compliments a talk show host is required to give the guest. "You see, this is the thing with you, innit, it's a talk show, 'Oh, you look great,' even though—look at me!" The crowd, too, is immediately on his side, laughing over Fallon's pretend attempts to recenter the conversation.

To be clear, Fallon's encouraging all this. He's interviewed Ricky Gervais many times and all talk-show hosts know what to expect. He's not genuinely trying to recapture his interview. In a way, he's still in control by the way he subtly eggs Gervais on. But Gervais, in his signature way, moves closer and closer to the inappropriate (for late-night TV) and offensive.

The other part of Gervais's style is that he performs as if he's genuinely passionate about what he's saying, when all the passion is leading directly to a punch line: "You see those guys on documentaries, and they're, like, 700 pounds, and I'm thinking, when they got to 300 pounds, didn't they go, 'Oh, this is a bit… much,' d'you know what I mean?" The crowd erupts but he continues because he's going even farther than anyone thinks.

That's when Fallon starts to look genuinely lost, as if the producer is starting to sound urgent in his ear: "Okay, get back to the movie, now." And Gervais knows what's happening; he can probably see the guy behind the cameras waving his hands and pointing to the cue cards. That's exactly what he wants, because it creates a feeling of unpredictability and hilarious tension, even on a show that viewers know has been taped and edited. So he starts another story, "So there's this woman in England, right?" And Fallon sits back in his chair to prepare himself.

In the second clip, the interview moves, for a few seconds, to the movie. The posters for his movie and Sausage Party line up a whole series of body part jokes that have Fallon cringing over and over. Gervais, clearly enjoying the tension he's built, makes an expert move at the 1:30 mark, by flipping the joke around on Jimmy, who simply cannot decide how to react. Finally, Gervais is the one to pull the conversation back to his movie and let Fallon introduce the clip. The whole segment is an incredible class on cringe-comedy by one of the experts. What else would you expect from David Brent?