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Mocking Hollywood

“In the bubbled, hypocritical mind of some in Hollywood, the only reason Gervais crossed a line is because he went after them. Had he been as relentless in ripping apart Sarah Palin, her young children, Jesus Christ, or George W. Bush, today the comedian would be celebrated as “edgy” and “courageous” — because only in Hollywood is throwing red meat to a hard-left crowd considered “edgy” and “courageous.” But Gervais didn’t do that. Instead, he trained his satirical fire on Hollywood Power and today there’s serious talk about whether or not the comedian will be brought back to the Golden Globes next year as host.”

John Nolte, at the Big Hollywood blog.

I think he has a strong point in his praise of Ricky Gervais’s performance, but I have a slight reservation. Imagine if Gervais had said such insulting things about showbiz people that Mr Nolte holds dear, or causes he supports. I doubt we would get such applause. And I also note that in the Daily Mail newspaper yesterday (I quote from reading the print edition), the writer, Quentin Letts, raves on about Gervais’s rudeness as if it was a barnstorming example of high wit. No it wasn’t. I cannot imagine your average Daily Mail reader enjoying say, an attack by an American comedian on the Royal family, for example.

The sad truth is that yes, Hollywood is full of self-regarding jerks who deserve all they get. But that does not make gratuitous rudeness somehow clever, as far as I can see, and I don’t see how we are going to get better movies as a result. And this does all rather cement the idea in American’s minds that many Brits are little more than hooligans. (I’d like to know what Stateside commenters think of how this all comes across.)

Talking of good movies, has anyone yet seen The King’s Speech?

50 comments to Mocking Hollywood

  • Haven’t seen it yet – please be sure to report after you do. Personally, I can’t wait to see Hereafter.

    What did Gervais say that put you off, Jonathan? I haven’t been watching the Oscars for a few years now.

  • Ooops, that was the Golden Globe – sorry. Never watched that in my life…

  • Surely a key issue (even the key issue) on stand-up comics is that they are at the edge because they appeal to the opinions (even the prejudices) of their audience.

    So who was the audience on this occasion?

    Moving on: concerning the victory parades of Roman generals, did they not have someone whispering in their ears, the whole time, questioning their glory and reminding them of its (and their) transience?

    RG just looks to have made that caveat on victory somewhat less of a whisper.

    [Don’t find the man that funny myself! Still: clearly other people do, and that’s fine by me: especially when I’m not forced to watch – which is always.]

    Best regards

  • The legend is that the phrase the slave whispered was, “Remember that thou art mortal.”

  • Gervais is the Frank Skinner of the 2000s. Not funny, never was.

  • Matt

    RG created a show that relentlessly and brilliantly mocked the oblivious, pathetic self-importance of a certain type of middle manager. He probably never dreamed he would be handed a microphone (again!) in a room full of real life David Brents.

  • JadedLibertarian

    There is a psychological cancer in our world today. It is the intellectually infantile position that coercive measures are OK on people you disagree with.

    Governments have long known this and have used it as a means of expanding their influence for generations, simply by playing special interest groups against one another.

    It seems like such a fundamental fallacy that I truthfully wonder at its prevalence. I discarded the “it’s OK since I don’t like them” morality somewhere in my early-teens.

    Why is it so pervasive?

  • jdm

    Imagine if Gervais had said such insulting things about showbiz people that Mr Nolte holds dear

    As a conservative in Hollywood, I think he’s pretty used to this. Accepting this behavior is, to me, a sub-theme in many of his posts about Hollywood.

    In fact, the man is so open-minded, he can provide reviews about Left-Wing Films (also at Breitbart) that not only explain how left-wing they are, but also why they are worth seeing from a cinematic perspective. I couldn’t do that; I haven’t seen even a third of those films because of the politics.

  • Problem with Gervais is, he hasn’t been any good since The Office.

    And he’s probably calculated that his Hollywood film career isn’t going any further.

  • Problem with Gervais is, he hasn’t been any good since The Office.

    And he’s probably calculated that his Hollywood film career isn’t going any further.

  • Well, I watched it now. I agree that Gervais is not all that funny in general, but as rude as some of it was, it was still brilliant. I only object to satire when the underlying premise is not true – and that didn’t seem to be the case in any of his insults. It was also quite disappointing to see how almost none of the actors at whom the jokes were directed was able to recognize the truth in them and be able to laugh at their own overblown screen personae. These people do take themselves way too seriously. The only one who seemed to be a good sport about it was Steve Carell.

  • Jerry

    I can tell you everyone I have talked to or sent the link to absolutely loved it and thought he was histerical. Bravo Ricky!

  • Dom

    I saw the King’s Speech. I stutter severely myself, and I thought it was a terrific movie. Everybody at the NSA (there really is a National Stutterers Association) also loved it. The screenwriter is this year’s inviter speaker.

  • Paul Marks

    A truly “edgy” performance is one that mocks the audience and what they hold dear.

    But that is not what audiences want – they want stuff that mocks people they have contempt for. And when they get it they cheer and calll the comic “brave”.

    I know little about this particular comic and I did not see his performance – but I know brave comedy when I see it.

    Don Imus is not the most fluffy of men (he looks like what he is – a Westerner who has just ridden in from a cattle drive) and I remember someone singing a song to him.

    The song was all about his FAULTS – from his meaness (both senses of the word) to his use of his own cancer as a boast and a weapon (I survived .,… repeated whenever useful).

    Mr Imus watched the song without interruption – but was clearly not wildly pleased (who would be – listening to a song that listed and attacked all their faults).

    Nasty or not – that is an example of “brave humour”, and it is similar to the court jester of the Middle Ages or (yes) the slave whispering “remember you are mortal” in the year of the trumphant general.

    Typical Hollywood (etc) style humour would be for someone to see a song to someone (and their friends) listing and attacking the faults of their FOES.

    Everyone (in the “entertainment community”) would call that “brave”, but of course it is not really brave at all.

  • F0ul

    Got bored of RG years ago – and having kept an eye on some of his stuff over the years, realised that he was very much a one trick pony.

    However, his Globes show was something else. He has worked out that the audience is sitting at home – not in front of him. Secondly, he knows he has already been typecast as an miserable Englishman – usually in a supporting role. So how do you move on?

    He knew he could reinvent himself, becoming cool as ice again – by saying exactly what the people at home were thinking!

    The future is looking bright for Ricky – especially if he writes, produces and stars in his next project – he could become seriously bankable!

  • RAB

    I have never found Gervais particularly funny, especially in standup ( Extras had it’s moments though), but having said that…

    They do not like it up them! Mr Mainwaring, they just do not like it up them!

    So if he has managed to piss off some of the richest, thin skinned and seriously undertalented people on the Planet, then three cheers for him!

  • Seconded RAB, and echoes my smited comment. Perry!!!!!!!

  • Oh, and what F0ul said, too. The guy may not be always very funny, but is far from being stupid.

  • bgates

    Imagine if Gervais had said such insulting things about showbiz people that Mr Nolte holds dear, or causes he supports. I doubt we would get such applause.

    In fact, it’s not uncommon to see Bruce Willis, Robert Downey Jr, and Sylvester Stallone on lists of conservatives (or suspected conservative-sympathizers) in Hollywood; Gervais went after all of them. There was also a mild joke at the end, “thanks to God, for making me an atheist” – as I said, mild, but not the kind of thing Nolte would cheer.

    I don’t see how we are going to get better movies as a result.

    Which awards program host monologue would you say was most successful in spurring the creation of a better class of film in subsequent years?

    this does all rather cement the idea in American’s minds that many Brits are little more than hooligans

    Good heavens, the man didn’t break a bottle over somebody’s head, he told jokes! Was Oscar Wilde a hooligan?

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Mr. Gervais was what, in a former age, was called a “boor”. He was rude and insulting. Whether the comments were justified is immaterial; there are certain things a gentleman simply does not say in public.

    Frankly, if one of the targets of his “comedy” had walked up to him and slapped him, hard, on the face for his boorishness, I would have cheered.

  • Chuck6134

    Unless you are one of those lemming like fan fanatics of Tinseltown, no one here any longer has much in the way of illusions about that place.

    Full of preening, outwardly attractive, and very intelligent (just ask them) people, Hollywood has been a favorite next to Washington as a place for most Americans to hate.

    Power to Gervais, rude or not-badmouthing Hollywood in it’s own DEN took incredible balls (or absolute naivete).

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Ricky is one of those people who do have some wits and humour, but not as much as he thinks. I liked some stuff from ‘Extras’, but not all of it. I saw a film of one of his stand-up routines, and he was good. So he has brains enough to make jokes, but maybe he now needs the brains to taylor his material to the audience…
    As for “The King’s Speech”, a very good movie! It’s great to see Australians getting the credit they deserve for holding the Empire together!

  • jsallison

    What is this Golden Globe thingy of which you speak? Should I care? I’m not into mutual backpatting societies, thenkyewveddymuch. I’d rather watch limited overs cricket that I can’t seem to find on this side of the pond without exorbitant fees.

  • thefrollickingmole

    Hes an amatuer, check out joan rivers at an aussie logies awards show.


  • Jane

    I would much rather listen to his material than an actor’s political views or jokes about specific politicians.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    I’m pretty sure that all jokes would sound better if we had a Land Valuation Tax. (I just wanted to be the first to say it!)

  • RAB

    Nuke my pet, you are beginning to annoy again.

    Do you actually have any land that can be valued?

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    If you want land with stunning water views, then Australia is the place to be! Don’t you watch the news?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alisa, it was not any specific remark in particular that made me think that Gervais was being an arse, rather, it is the sense that underneath the cheeky-chappy routine that he brings to the job, is a sense of bitterness, even rage, about the very people he has chosen to hang out with. I find it a bit hypocrtical.

    If he hates Hollywood types so much, why is he there? He wants to be turd in their punchbowl. Well, I cannot say I am surprised if he finds his social life changes a bit.

    If I moved into a neighbourhood, went to parties and did business, and at a big event, said, “Oh, by the way, you’re all a bunch of cunts”, it is hardly surprising that folk get sense of humour failure. Not to understand that is like being a sociopath.

  • John B

    Edgy? What is that – pointing out logical inconsistencies and expecting people to take it standing up with a smile?
    Have you ever tried that on an atheist or a libertarian?
    But Jonathan is correct insofar as he goes.

  • Yes, Jonathan does have a point. Still, focusing on the message rather than the messenger and all that…

  • The problem with the idea that all these Hollywood types have no sense of humour and can’t take a ribbing is the existence of Comedy Central’s Comedy Roast TV shows. Has no-one here ever seen one? It’s full of actors and comedians absolutely ripping the shit out of each other, in front of each other, with jokes far more filthy and libellous than any of Gervais’s, and they all love it. (Admittedly Robert Downey Jr has yet to appear, but many of the participants are surprisingly mainstream).

  • TDK

    I take your point about “taking a ribbing” but the difference between a comedy roast and the awards is that in the former, the participants know what they are going in for.

  • TDK

    PS: Mr Bunny, your tax year is rather longer than the calendar one!

  • Kim du Toit

    I wish people would get their terminology straight.

    It’s not satire to point out that Robert Downey Jr is a serial drug addict and drunk (albeit a brilliant actor — I watch every movie he makes).

    Pointing out people’s foibles in public is not satire, it’s lampooning.

    That’s what Gervais did, and he was funny about it. I just wish he’d added a big dig at Mel Gibson, who has a serious case of dickheadedness. (Talk about career suicide: Gibson refers to Jews as “oven dodgers”, and wants to work in Hollywood again? LOL)

    American audiences are used to seeing gentler lampooning, such as done by Johnny Carson or Billy Crystal — who are always self-deprecating when they do it. It’s the absense of self-deprecation which made people call Gervais “mean” — but it was still damn funny.

    It’s like bringing up the CEO’s well-known affair with his secretary at a shareholders’ meeting — everything you say may be true, but it might not be the best choice of occasion, in terms of your job. Which is what Gervais did, relatively speaking. But by doing it on live TV, Gervais guaranteed a reaction.

    As one who loves tilting at windmills, I say: good for him. Now what he needs to do is turn that malevolence into a serious character performance, and play a truly bad guy in his next movie. He’s not too bad a comedian, but he needs to play up his dark side more — like he just did.

  • Kim du Toit

    And yes, I know that the dictionary definition of “lampoon” is “harsh satire”. Just as “murder” is “extreme assault”.

  • Kim, he did take a smallish dig at Gibson. He also did quite a bit of the self-deprecation shtick, which I agree is important.

  • Jonathan, I just had a thought: maybe you feel embarrassed because Gervais is a Brit – a reverse-bias kind of thing?

  • llamas

    Always a day late and a dollar short . . .

    I like Hawkshead, too, although I have used the example of overheard conversations while sitting under the ‘Gurt Clog’ to illustrate the endemic and ingrained anti-Americanism that is the last acceptable racism in the UK.

    I also find it mildly amusing, in a tiring sort of way, to observe the frightening diligence and faux-outrage with which this rather dotty old pair of hoteliers have been hounded through the courts, all in the name of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ – and yet nobody has a word to say about the Islamic preachers all over the UK who preach every day that their faith requires teh gays to be stoned to death – and that this sentence is regularly carried out in those lands where their faith holds sway.

    As another has suggested, I would just love to see these two poor injured innocents turn their attentions to a hotel which is run upon Sharia principles – I’m sure that Saudi Arabia is full of them – and see how far they get. But I’m not holding my breath.

    There’s worse problems in the world than being turned away from a place that you knew would not accommodate you in the first place. It certainly should be absolutely no business for the criminal law to address. And I’m still not sure what damages, tangible or otherwise, these two cupcakes can colourably argue that they suffered that were not entirely of their own making, so where’s the tort? I don’t believe for a moment the story that they went to this hotel in blithe ignornace of the policy. I was born at night, but is wasn’t last night.

    De minimis, lex non curat. Or it shouldn’t, anyway.



  • llamas

    . . . and in the wrong thread, too. Sorry about that.



  • AKM

    Dr Helen Szamuely of Your Freedom and Ours wrote a more or less favourable review of The King’s Speech recently here:

  • The_Chef

    I’d like to know what Stateside commenters think of how this all comes across.

    Fucking hilarious.

  • Jane

    My husband watched it and thought it was hilarious. I could hear him laughing out loud from the other room he was practically rolling on the floor.

    Now he wants to watch the Ricky Gervais show on Feb 19th.

  • Petronius

    The silly thing is that the Golden Globes is presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc., a group with few entry requirements and no credibility outside of the show. Journalists have found that many of the members do not actually represent the foreign media outlets they allegedly serve. In the past producers have flown all the voting members to New York for a screening and a big party; lo and behold that film won. It is the most blatently fake excuse for an awards cermony in the US. In other words, it is perfectly suited to Hollywood.

  • Valerie

    This stateside viewer thought it was great.

  • nemesis

    Jaded Libertarian “Governments have long known this and have used it as a means of expanding their influence for generations, simply by playing special interest groups against one another.”
    Agree. In my experience, political parties (esp leftie ones) actually seek out and engineer these special interest groups. A sort of divide and rule policy.

  • Chalk me down for another Stateside viewer who loved it.

  • Oops, so out of the loop: posted the last-year one…Not that the latest one is much different, mind. He was re-invited though – what does that say about the state of Hollywood? And should we care?

  • Paul Marks

    Many thanks for the link Alisa.

    Well most of appears to be true.

    “Should we care”.

    Well I often overlook the fact that the Hollywood people are scumbags – I tend to be soley interested in the fact that most of them are leftists, so the scumbag factor passes me by.

    I suppose it might matter on two grounds.

    Does there scumbagness effect their work – for example does the fact that Mel Gibson is a drunk and antisemite “bleed over” into the films he makes?

    Also it might matter for another reason – people tend to be in awe of Hollywood personalities (even today they have whole television stations devoted to the presentation of them).

    So people tend to be interested in what they say about various questions – if it was more known what scumbags they are, the interest (the respect) for what they say might be less.