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Ricky Gervais, the best man at a wedding who shouts out “Don’t marry, mate!”

Ricky Gervais’s opening comments at the Golden Globes in Hollywood (I assume he is not doing them ever again) are rightly being lauded around the non-PC parts of the internet/media world for telling much of Hollywood how totally, eye-wateringly awful it is. Seems a tad harsh, though – he’s a bit like the guy who comes to a party, takes a lot of the decent wine, insults the guests and then leaves. Seems a tad boorish. But maybe I am being squeamish and boorishness in these times may be necessary. I get the impression that a high-water mark of PCness, or “wokeness”, to coin a term, may have been reached. Maybe even last December’s crushing of Mr Corbyn’s UK Labour Party was an indicator. (For anyone living on a remote desert island in recent years, here is a definition of “woke”.)

So what is the context here and how do we end with a situation where a movie industry reaches the point where a British entertainer hammers practitioners in this way?

One sign of what is going wrong is how famous franchises are “rebooted” – James Bond is getting older and being replaced, at least in terms of the person with the iconic 007 number, by a black woman who has his serial number (possibly); Terminator, Star Wars, Dr Who….the list of increasingly “woke” productions goes on. The accountants aren’t happy as far as viewing figures and box office takings are concerned, it seems.

Of course, as we have seen on discussions on this blog before, some business tycoons might be willing to see some of their revenues decline if it means winning a longer term war to change the “culture”, but shareholders’ patience has its limits. If Proctor and Gamble takes a hit by insulting men as toxic, well, even the most PC chief executives will be booted out eventually.

But for the penny to drop, so to speak, it appears necessary for unvarnished truths to be dished out, and quite possibly, Gervais is ultimately doing the sector a favour, even if swearing at guests is a bit, well, off.

I do think that the very fact that someone such as Ricky Gervais can stand up in front of Hollywood luvvies and more or less telll them they are a bunch of narcissistic, ignorant twats is quite something and suggests we have reached a sort of tipping point. It even got mentioned on the BBC this morning.

OK, I hear you cry, is Gervais’s intervention necessary? If “woke” films lose money and Netflix/other hoover up the market, that is capitalism in action in its most brutal and bracing way. That of course is all true. And there have been and will be films made that upset fans and conventional wisdom, whether from a traditional conservative or socially radical point of view. So long as it is a free market, that’s fine. (But when the State intrudes with subsidies, this becomes a big problem.)

But the benefit at times of having someone such as Gervais drop some bombs on an awards ceremony is that paradoxically, he highlights the place of awards events in business sectors. Industry awards ceremonies are marketing exercises, and there is, as with all types of business, a law of diminishing returns if there are lots of them: the more awards there are, the less each one matters over time. The decisions about who gets what gong and for what are subject to lots of political eye-gouging. A lot is at stake in terms of PR, contracts and connections. And in a slightly less venal way, awards are a chance for people to meet old friends, make some new contacts and have a glass or two in convivial surroundings (and there’s nothing wrong about that, by the way).

However, for all their annoying qualities and diminishing returns, awards events can also be a chance for an industry that is a bit under the cosh to put its best faces forward, to plead a case, to show it still counts. There are awards events for every sector under the sun, from architecture to IT.

Funnily enough some of the smarter Hollywood people (yes, they exist) probably know they have a problem with how the sector has been going, and Gervais touched on some of them: competition from new media; stale franchises and lack of originality, and yes, a liberal-left culture that alienates a large number of potential customers. The industry is vulnerable if actors and actresses lecture people about their carbon footprints or about sex, and then fly on private jets and hang out with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein. So awards ceremonies, even when someone like Gervais is nasty to the guests, have their uses, sometimes if only to tell a sector that it has a dose of the flu and needs to get better. They might even encourage change if the reaction is serious enough.

In my own industry of financial media, we have awards ceremonies too, and it is often quite a tricky point to know what sort of man or woman to nominate as the sort of warm-up act. A few years ago I went to a black tie gala evening run by an investment industry body. The bloke doing the warm-up gags was a hard-left socialist by the name of Frankie Boyle. It was like inviting Lenin to talk to the Institute of Directors. Boyle was disgusting and unpleasant, and people walked out. The Golden Globe audience, methinks, got off quite lightly.

Do read the Gervais speech. It is glorious.

I do think, reconsidering my article from a day ago, that Gervais was pretty out of order swearing at the crowd, and part of me wishes that he hadn’t done that, and that we could have a Hollywood that was classy and elegant. But rather as with Donald Trump, a vulgar, rough and no-nonsense person is necessary to burn down what exists before the rebuilding can take place. Or to use an expression from the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, we need creative destruction.

14 comments to Ricky Gervais, the best man at a wedding who shouts out “Don’t marry, mate!”

  • JohnK

    Frankie Boyle is indeed a hard left socialist loon. He will also have picked up ten large for that gig. And he is as funny as cancer. No wonder the BBC loves him.

    Whoever booked him needs to be redeployed to the nearest Job Centre Plus.

  • Mary Contrary

    “Boorish” is just the word for Gervais. Also, “crass”, “vulgar” and “uncouth”. One of those so-called comics who thinks being as unpleasant as possible is funny, or an acceptable substitute for funny. I’ve never liked him or his work.

    And yet, and yet…

    I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t relish his speech. (NBC has tweeted the video clip, via Guido). A glorious rant, made only the sweeter by the sour looks on the faces of some of the audience.

    Why is that? How have I come to think this way? I guess I’ve just come to despise the Hollywood crowd and their preening wokeness even more than I despise Gervais’ vomit on all standards of civility. Call it radicalisation if you must, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in 2016 I thought Trump utterly unfit to be President, and now I cheer his every intemperate tweet at the forces of villainy ranged against him, and will gleefully celebrate his inevitable election victory later this year, and the dismay that will cause all the right people.

    I’m not particularly proud of becoming this person. But I’m not such a hypocrite I can’t admit this is how I feel now. And that feeling is reinforced with every insufferable, smug, sanctimonious woke fool that tells me how morally superior they are for holding their morally bankrupt views, every day, from every screen.

    So well done Gervais, and Trump. You don’t go to a cultural war with the army you want, you go with the army you have.

  • bobby b

    From a pure marketing standpoint, Gervais got the Golden Globes on all of the front pages today.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Thank you for the transcript.
    I had watched the speech, but did not get everything… and now i know that’s partly because i miss the cultural references!

  • Chester Draws

    Well, sort of Bobby B.

    I mostly got “Hollywood” vs Gervais onto the front pages. I’ve read a whole bunch of articles and tweets about it, and I couldn’t tell you a single winner of a Golden Globe for the night.

  • Stonyground

    Doesn’t Gervais have form for doing this insulting the audience routine? If so it would suggest that booking him was deliberate. I read the transcript, I enjoyed the insults but I didn’t laugh. Still, it must have been fun watching them do their political speeches after it has been pointed to them that they are a bunch of know nothings.

  • bobby b

    “I’ve read a whole bunch of articles and tweets about it, and I couldn’t tell you a single winner of a Golden Globe for the night.”

    Yeah, true. But I do know now that Tom Hanks looks prissy when he’s insulted, and Robert Deniro seems likely to have a coronary if he hears one more unwoke statement, so I might watch the GG’s in the future just for that kind of fun.

    Not next year, though. Next year the Emcee is going to be the most woke SJW Hollywood can find. It would just be too soon after Ricky.

  • Itellyounothing

    So was this some marketing trickery to get people caring again about all the Hollywood bollocks? Whoever booked him must have known? Is it some insider who hates them all?

    Is this the new version of edgy?

  • Nemesis

    I’m of the impression that Gervais is a strong advocate of free speech- so, just practising what he preaches.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Boyle is seriously hard left, and he has the badge to prove it.

    Gervais’ mocking really summed up the banal attitude with his refusal to read a “lists of celebrities we lost in 2019” because it was “too white”, he didn’t need to comment on how that could be remedied, I think the little wheels turning around and around in the audience heads was all too enjoyably visible, he certainly knows when to let a brutal burn sit there smoldering.

  • Paul Marks

    It was a good speech – but will the Hollywood richlings (and the MEGA richlings – such as Tim more-censorship-now Cook – the “Apple” swine) understand it?

    After Ricky Gervais sat down – a lady popped up (I forget her name – but I am told she is famous) and made a speech that her being an actress depended on her right to kill babies. This is what the lady meant by her “right to choose” and she then said that every women should VOTE on this basis (for “our self interest”) in November 2020 (after all Donald Trump keeps fathering children – think of the women whose lives he has destroyed by turning them into mothers, he must be Satan, it is O.K. for Hunter Biden to do this with but not Donald Trump).

    As if there had been no actresses before 1973 – Roe V Wade.

    Now there are arguments the “Pro Choice” people can make for abortion (and Ricky Gervais is “pro choice” himself) – for example RAPE, should a women be forced to carry the child of a rapist for nine months and then give birth to the child?

    But the lady did not make any such argument – she just implied that she could not have been an actress without the right of abortion (i.e. there were no actresses before 1973), and that her personal “self interest” was all that mattered.

    A blatantly political speech – all about how people should vote based on bad arguments, and the Hollywood celebs (and the Corporate celebs – such as Tim Cook) all cheered and cheered. They cheered even though the lady specifically attacked MEN – men are the cause of all that was wrong in the world, not bad men MEN IN GENERAL (we are evil BECAUSE we are men) and the men in the audience – the celebs and Corporate richlings, cheered and cheered, death-to-men is the position of these “men”.

    Women should rule and make the world “look like them” (what does that even mean?) – it was as if the lady had watched the old German television series “Star Maidens” and thought the Planet Medusa was a REAL PLACE proving that the rule of women (with men enslaved) was the ideal society. Given all the drugs used in Hollywood I would not be at all astonished if the lady does indeed think that “Star Maidens” is a documentary series.

    If someone had made a speech all about “Social Justice” (perhaps they did) they would have cheered that as well – not understanding that this means their wealth taken, and themselves (and their families) murdered.

    I believe the California richlings will learn within one generation what Social Justice means – they will learn “up close and personal” as they are looted and tortured to death.

    One can warn them a thousand times – but they refuse to understand the warnings.

    Perhaps they are waiting for the space ships to arrive – so the “Star Maidens” can take them to the “Planet Medusa”.

  • Kalashnikat

    Britain should be proud of Ricky Gervais, not embarrassed.

    As a Yank who is old enough to remember at least some of Hollywood’s Golden Age and also a time when people didn’t swear in movies or on TV (pre-cable), I have to say I thought Gervais was perfectly on pitch and his audience fully deserved every slap, slice, beating and bullet he sent their way. This was a room full of obscenely self-righteous sinners pretending to spew “do as I say” morality to the world after giving us the age of Epstein/Weinstein/Clinton/Gore and countless other predators, pretending to preach “kill babies but save the whales” and “Live simply so that (we) others may simply live… and simply keep flying around in our private jets.”

    Don Rickles or George Carlin could not have done better and if they’re in heaven they must have enjoyed watching someone deal with the hypocrites as well or better than they did.

    Bravo, Gervais…you truly have a pair of big golden globes.

  • mikee

    Don Rickles. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Ricky Gervais.
    Insult comedy is the telling of truths to the elites, who titter in embarrassment and go on doing exactly the same as before.

    Insult comedy has no effect on the insulted, except to weaken what should be actual repudiation of the insulted by the rest of society. Those insulted were so strong and brave and just laughed off the absolutely true charges of their vile behavior, look how strong they are!

  • Kalashnikat

    Mikee…it depends on how it’s received and what happens next…
    Let me be among the first 100 or so to say it:

    Ricky Gervais didn’t kill himself…And the Emperor has no clothes!

    Kalashnikat

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