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Did Ricky Gervais go too far at the Golden Globes?

January 17, 2011 |  2:17 pm

Pity the poor award show host. Go for the easy, Mel Gibson-size targets and you're accused of taking no risks. Take shots at the room, and at the hand that feeds, and you're deemed mean and unfair.

Ricky Gervais found himself both on an evening that otherwise saw few moments of shame or shock -- no Ryan Bingham stuck at the bar when his name was called, no Christine Lahti locked in the bathroom, as both were in previous editions of the awards show.

Even to his critics, Gervais was polarizing only in spots; his disappearance for nearly an hour in middle of the show meant he only had select opportunities to get under people's skin. Most of the material that irked was from the opening monologue, particularly a line about Scientologist actors (an apparent reference to Tom Cruise) and pokes at the cravenness of the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., which of course hands out the Golden Globes.

Robert Downey Jr. thought the tone Gervais set was "mean-spirited and "mildly sinister" (it probably didn't help that the actor was a target himself). But Christian Bale told reporters backstage that "I don't think he went too far" and "I hope he goes further."

Even at this newspaper, the commentators were divided. Times TV critic Mary McNamara called Gervais' performance "snotty," "abusive" and going for "dangerous targets" with the Cruise and Hollywood Foreign Press jokes. But my film-staff colleague Patrick Goldstein commented, in regard to the same jokes, "Talk about bashing safe targets."

The flap was a little reminiscent of Chris Rock at the Oscars in 2005, when he took a shot at Jude Law by comparing him unfavorably to Tom Cruise, prompting Sean Penn to call out Rock and defend Law as "one of our finest young actors,"  prompting commentators to call out Penn.

In the light of Monday, the producers of the Oscars are probably thanking the heavens that they chose, for the first time in several decades, non-comedians as hosts in Anne Hathaway and James Franco. Surely someone will say the pair wasn't funny or mean enough.

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: Ricky Gervais before the Golden Globes Sunday night. Credit: Robyn Beck/AFP


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The Big Picture: Ricky Gervais' monologue



Comments () | Archives (23)

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Ricky Gervais was the best part of the Golden Globes. Hilarious! No he didn't go too far! Loved him!

Which begs the bigger question, in a city where Hollywood actors make fantastical money and out of work actors down the road live in abject poverty, and let’s not even bother mentioning the downtown mecca that is skid row, nor those individuals watching from home, whom most of are still struggling for mortal survival in prolonged unsettling economic circumstances what exactly is appropriate?

The divide between the lavished and revered and those left to fend for themselves in an environment that offers little yield hasn’t been this wide in a while and sometimes it takes a comedian, especially a foreign one who secretly revels in letting America know that the joke is really on them.

So yeah, Ashton Kutcher is Bruce Willis' make believe son, I bet the world is still laughing...oh dear.


Oh boo-hoo weep-weep for the royal families of Hollywood gliterati. Get real, that's why Gervais was hired for job, and being a brit you can hate him in the LA press from afar.

He is one of the most acerbic comedians around with a skill in reducing his targets to tears, but he is funny dammit. And he is not profane, uncommon these days in British entertainment.

Pity he did not wear his bare-assed leather pants to the show.

I have never watched an awards show, ever. If this Gervais fellow hosts another one, though, I will tune in.

He is a stand up comedian. What am I missing? That is exactly what he is paid to do, make people uncomfortable and if he doesn't, people are saying he was not funny enough. All these 'A-listers' need to get their head out their ass and realise he is telling a joke. It's actually sad how far this has been blown out of all proportion.

People always ask for funny hosts, and now that we got one, we think he went to far. No he didn't really, it was funny and none of the celebrities he joked about were hurt by the funny remarks.
I love Ricky. Don't hate on him.

I see it quite simply. If he's not hosting, we won't be watching. I think it's also safe to say that most people would gladly take those insults for the amount of money celebrities make. How come Gervais "went too far" with his Scientology comment when South Park devote an entire episode to Tom Cruise and John Travolta wanting to 'stay in the closet' and it's praised? Americans need to see shows like 8 out of 10 Cats and Mock The Week if they think this is bad. Weekly panel shows say much worse in the UK.

He didn't say anything that people had not already said. The Tourist looked awful and got bad reviews, Hugh Hefner going out with 24 year olds has been done (Joe Rogan does a bit on it), Scientology has been done too, Sex and The City 2? It got awful reviews, Family Guy made a joke about the age of them years ago. Robert Downey Jr a drug addict? I'm fairly sure that's had its fair share of jokes. Tim Allen does have quite a feeble resúme when standing next to Tom Hanks, anyone can see that. Honestly I can't think of a joke that is completely new and vulgar.

Do David Letterman and Jay Leno go too far on a nightly basis making fun of the same people? The very essence of comedy is to make judgments and say outrageous things. I find it astounding that the sensibilities Robert Downey were offended, but this married man thought it was appropriate to talk about having sex with all the leading ladies for ten minutes, as they sat captive with their husbands and boyfriends. Downey was a drug addict for thirty years, arrested how many times, but he has decided his life is off limits for jokes because he's an adult now, sure, makes sense. Tom Cruise and his bizarre life should be off limits because Tom cares about everyone else. Cher is still relevant to anyone not gay. Comedian Tim Allen isn't a hack actor and should be treated like Richard Burton. Come on people, Ricky Gervais was courageous to take on the industry. What made Gervais funny was his honesty. He was hysterical.

If it wasn't for Ricky Gervais, I wouldn't watch these pompus a-holes patting each other on the backs. He makes it entertainment and not self serving recognition for a bunch of overpaid people who think much too highly of themselves. Take a joke Hollywood... realize the rest of the country is laughing at you pretty much all the time so you should learn to laugh at yourself.

I saw gervais doing what he was hired to do...what he told everyone before they hired him...he was going to do. Am I suppose to feel sorry for talented actors like Downey who's made so many purposeful mistakes; and has had, time after time, his life given to him to do over and over again on a silver platter...because he chooses to drug and drink his life away when he knows he has a problem with the crap??? I wonder how many times Downey has made periodic trips down to downtown LA and seen the results of addicts and alchies like myself...who do not get a OUT OF JAIL FREE card every time they demand it. Because we're stars???

The hollywood crowd are a bunch of hypocrites. It was funny last year to make fun of Mel Gibson. No one was complaining then, but spread it around and make fun out of all of them and their feelings get hurt. Grow up!

These are performers he made jokes about, they are only entertainers, they are not soldiers that give their lives, they are not doctors that work in some third world nation, they are not PhD candidates or ground breaking research scientists, they are just actors are over paid to PRETEND onscreen. You would think they would have a sense of humor about themselves. Hearing complaints over Mr. Gervais brilliant performance makes me want to boycott Hollywood forever. It's pathetic any actor or performer would be so full of their empty selves they could take offense over what he said.....PATHETIC.

Ricki Gervais was HILARIOUS!! We got to see how these arrogant hollywood types have NO sense of humor!!!!! If his jokes offended anyone, it was because they contained many truths!!

Ricky was hilarious. Awards shows are usually so boring. The actors who took offence obviously take themselves too seriously and believe all the "star" hype. They are just people pretending to be other people.They could do with being taken down a peg or two.

Mean spirited ... uncomfortable? I think some of his critics need to watch a couple of series of "Extra's" to realize this IS the Gervais brand of humor.

If it's not appreciated, then he should simply have never been hired in the first place. Complaining about it now though is just being precious and thin-skinned.

My favorite bit of snark came at the end: "Thank you to God for making me an atheist." Perfect.

This is what great comedy is supposed to do, and this may be one of the greatest comic performances in years and years and years. Pompous Hollywood has been long overdue for this kind of attack and what a place to unload on them - another one of Hollywood's masturbatory awards ceremonies - a place where the rich and famous reward themselves for being..well..rich and famous. Well done Ricky. Well done.

The Stars blew it. If they'd joined in on the barbs, poking fun back at the whole thing, they wouldn't have come off so pretentiously. Who was the one guy that asked the audience to redefine "elitism?" HUH?

I watched the golden globes last year and and thoroughly enjoyed them because of Ricky Gervais and as soon as I found out he was presenting them again this year I didn't hesitate to watch again! He absolutely made the show without doubt! In fact, the part that was mentioned in the article where Ricky wasn't seen for a while I actually fast forwarded coz I was beginning to yawn! I agree with everyone elses comments on here and have read more reviews of his performance on the awards and most people are saying the same things (the 'normal' people that don't get paid millions of pounds per film, the people that give their 'very' hard earned cash to the cinemas and DVD stores all around the world so these stars can get those millions) so what does that tell you? Surely the viewing public - who are responsible for these stars wages - are much more important than some grumbling celebrity who can't take a 'joke'.. and don't get me started on Robert Downey! (who's little speech didn't get hardly any laughs btw!) this guys whole life has been a joke, and now he decides to act like 'mr mature'? If only more people where like 'Alec Baldwin' - who was nearly crying into his hand with laughter - then perhaps these awards shows would always be such good fun to watch!! 'Ricky Gervais For The Oscars'.

To the hollywood stars who were offended by Gervais, I say it is time to stop taking yourselves so seriously, leave the bubble you live in and come out and laugh with the rest of us. Your pomposity in itself is hysterical. Thanks to Gervais, for telling it and seeing it for what it is.

A friend of mine was outraged at the Ricky Gervais jokes. Then I watched the Golden Globes monologues on youtube... ummm what is the problem?

President Obama did more roasting and grilling at the Press Correspondents Dinner last year! Ricky Gervais was just fine. He said he wanted to go out and not get invited back - and he went out with some great zingers about things we know to be true about people we all know we don't like. I can't wait for the Golden Globes to be offended when Paul Haggis' Scientology book comes out.

Here's a free tip for living in this town and listening to comedians and Hosts make fun of rich people: whooo-sah

I could be swayed either way on this one. I don't normally think of the Golden Globes as a "Celebrity Roast" and I am not a big fan of Gervais though, so it could make me a little more biased than others. Here's the thing though, if you hire a comedian, and allow him to write his own script, without review - you get what you get. If you wanted a censored presenter, then write your own script and hire a professional speaker instead.

You know, seeing that from europe (and especially from France) is so much fun. Is there any reason to be socked by the gervais's hosting ? Of course not !!!
I had one of the best time in golden globes ceremony.
This guy is so much fun ! He says acid words ? so what !?
During the ceremony we saw alec baldwin laughing till he cries, like me !

Thank you ricky, & hope you'll be back next year !

Regards from France.


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