Ethics Observations On Ricky Gervais’s Performance At The 2020 Golden Globes Awards

The fact that Ricky Gervais’s slashing MC performance at last night’s live telecast of the Golden Globes Award is actively competing with the US-Iran confrontation for media attention once again shows our society’s charming (and sometimes healthy) preference for trivia over substance.

I didn’t watch the show live because I couldn’t care less what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association thinks about anything, and because the Hollywood community culture makes me retch. I did follow the thing online, as several sites were gleefully streaming blow-by-blow descriptions of Gervais’s routine.

I can’t conclusively rate the ethical nature of his pretty much non-stop attacks on the attendees without knowing what his job was: to entertain them, to entertain the TV audience, or both. If it was both, then the comic would have been restricted to the kind of generic humor we have been accustomed to at the Oscars and Tonys. Yet why would anyone hire Gervais to do that? (Remember the outrage over Seth McFarland’s Oscar hosting gig when he delivered exactly what one would expect the politically incorrect creator of “The Family Guy” to bring to the party?) In the end, we have to assume that since this was the fifth time Gervais got the assignment, both the Golden Globes producers and the glitterati who were paying attention consented to what they got.

A lot of the “humor” in Gervais’s remarks arose from an “I can’t believe he said that!” reaction, meaning that in many cases, he was more shocking than genuinely funny. His jokes often straddled the boundary between lecture and humor, though it is certainly satisfying to hear someone tell actors and celebrities to their faces things like…

“But tonight isn’t just about the people in front of the camera. In this room are some of the important TV and film executives in the world, people from every background. But they all have one thing in common. They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow. He’s coming for you.”

“Maybe talented people of color were snubbed in all major categories. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about that. The Hollywood Foreign Press are all very, very racist.”

“Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a super drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for, it’s unbelievable—Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent.”

“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.”

This last was especially welcome and undeniably true, but it is far from a joke. In fact, it’s a horrible truth. The assembled obviously paid no attention to it, however, since we still got political blather like Patricia Arquett’s...

“I know we’re not gonna look back on this night in the history books,” she said. “We will see a country on the brink of war – a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs… people risking their lives travelling across the world – people not knowing if bombs are gonna drop on their kids’ heads – and a continent of Australia on fire. So, while I love my kids so much, I beg of us all to give them a better world for their kids – and we have to beg and plea for everyone we know to vote in 2020.”

Well THAT was certainly hysterical, ignorant, disjointed and inappropriate virtue signaling…and it proved Gervais’s point nicely.

Gervais’s best moment by far was near the end. Introducing Sandra Bullock to announce the Best Movie Drama award, Gervais said,

“Our next presenter starred in Netflix’s ‘Bird Box,’ a movie where people survive by acting like they don’t see a thing. Sort of like working for Harvey Weinstein.”

The crowd then booed (they should have lowered their heads in shame), and Ricky responded: “You did it! I didn’t, you did it!”

Well, bravo. If there were any members of the TV audience under the misconception that most of the people in the room were not complicit passive partners in Weinstein’s criminal abuse of actresses and that exchange enlightened them, Ricky justified his performance in that moment alone.

Aside: I’m curious about what was generally rated Gervais’s meanest joke: “The world got to see James Corden as a fat pussy. He was also in the movie Cats’ This a formula joke as old as the Pyramids,  and I wonder if Gervais tipped off Corden, who is also British and perhaps a friend, that it was coming. I hope so.


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13 thoughts on “Ethics Observations On Ricky Gervais’s Performance At The 2020 Golden Globes Awards

  1. I was surprised, and not so secretly delighted, to read he skewered arrogant, hypocritical, vapid, show business Lefties.

    Would have loved to see some crowd shots of the nervous fidgeting.

    Speaking of Weinstein; you think his four wheeler usage is a Ted Kennedyesque (neck brace at Mary Jo Kopechne’s funeral) sympathy ploy?

      • And how about the bottles of Moet photoshopped into all the photos? Shameless. My favorite picture is of De NIro and Scorcese looking like two demented, elderly mob bosses waiting to be taken to a McDonald’s drive through and then home to bed by their chauffeurs now that the vegan meal has been served.

        • Actually I found Scorcese’s shrug about the too-short for theme park rides avter the Marvel movie comments hilarious. I thought that the reaction shot of Carol and Ellen looked more like delighted shock, not objecting…

          The bubble must be popped before anyone can take them seriously. The crack about relative education and Greta Thurnberg not being in school like she should werw excellent points,

    • In the interest of being consistent, I find Gervais to be an excessively profane and tiresome comedian. Most of his laughs seem to come from the vile side of the aisle. The fact he happened to pick on people and the politics I don’t like while further coarsening things, in my mind does us no favors. Thumbs down despite his targets.

  2. If we all get to pick personal favorites, here’s mine: “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.” A twofer!

    • It hardly seems fair; Gervais was shooting fish in a barrel. /sarc

      One of my faves: “We were going to do an ‘in memoriam; this year but when I saw list of people who had died it wan’t diverse enough. No, it was mostly white people and I thought, Nah. Not on my watch! Maybe next year.”

  3. We spent last evening watching the Simpsons, a show where characters routinely use Golden Globes as disposable toothpicks. Only by momentary flip of the channel did we learn the Golden Globes were even on that night….

  4. The Court Jester’s role has always included being the one who delivered bad news no one else would dare say aloud. The public’s growing recognition of Hollywood’s collective stupidity and hypocricy is news that their elites needed to hear. The rest of us have endured Hollywood’s corruption for years, but they keep indulging themselves with the same obnoxious behavior and expecting to get away with it.


    I loved it from top to bottom. The one thing that I have to say is that he addressed the elephant in the room right off the top:

    “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.”

    The fact that Gervais was tapped for this gig is *amazing* considering the content he produces, and now that he’s made this speech, he’ll never be invited back. Click on that link up there, CTRL-F the term “care” and read the 6 paragraphs that contain that word: He bore no illusions, he had no fucks to give. The interesting entry was the one where he talked about Netflix, which was both true and the reason he was able to do this. He might never work in TV again, but Netflix, which has produced several Gervais specials, and will continue to.

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