Nolte: Ricky Gervais Proves Pompous Hollywood Can No Longer Take a Joke

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 10: In this handout photo provided by NBCUniversal, Host Ricky
Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais brought back some old-fashioned, celebrity self-deprecation Sunday night, which made real Americans laugh and proved Hollywood and its media are now too bloated with self-importance to take a joke.

Those of us of a certain age remember when one of the great appeals of celebrity and stardom was modesty, humility, gratitude, and above all, self-deprecation.

If you go back and look at clips of award ceremonies from 30 or so years ago, you will see Oscar hosts Billy Crystal, Johnny Carson, and Bob Hope take constant shots at Hollywood, at celebrity, at the glitter and tinsel of it all. You will also see them make fun of themselves.

Take a look at those old Dean Martin celebrity roasts or when superstars appeared on all those classic variety shows. You will see everyone from John Wayne to Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra laughing at themselves, at Hollywood in general, at the whole idea of fame and celebrity.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Jack Benny and Fred Allen, Don Rickles and Frank Sinatra, W.C. Fields and a dummy named Charlie McCarthy, … These guys deliberately launched phony feuds as a means to keep each other’s egos in check. They would make fun of their looks, their weight, their age, their talent, their failures… you name it. The public loved it. Ate it up.

As ambitious and egotistical as these men and women were, as driven and insecure as almost every big star is, back then they understood that one way to endear themselves to the public was through self-deprecation and self-effacement. For all their flaws, they were still smart, secure, decent, and grounded enough to laugh at themselves. For all their flaws, these guys still knew how lucky they were to be as rich and famous as they were, so they never took it for granted, never acted entitled.

Compare that to celebrities today, to their sense of entitlement, their pompous sense of self-importance,  to the stone faces that greeted Ricky Gervais when he took a few swings at celebrity while hosting Sunday’s Golden Globe awards.

Here’s how the far-left Los Angeles Times described it:

The 58-year-old former Golden Globe winner (“The Office”) and five-time host also flippantly reminded the packed room that, “No one cares about movies anymore,” and advised, “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.”

Meryl Streep shook her head. Eddie Murphy refused to smile. Quentin Tarantino looked more disturbed than usual.

And because the entertainment media is filled with sycophants, rather than praise Gervais for having the courage to speak truth to the power in the room, for bringing back a sense of old-fashioned class and style, for pricking the pompous, these media suck-ups are all siding with the humorless celebrity prigs.

Los Angeles Times again:

But at the Beverly Hilton, where the three-hour-plus ceremony took place, the mood was already sober thanks to an impeachment, the threat of war with Iran and devastating bush fires in Australia.

The last thing anyone needed was for the smirking master of ceremonies to reprimand them for having hope, or taunt the room for trying to use their influence to change things for the better.

Impeachment? Fires? Iran? Can you imagine this pompous reaction during World War II where no one is willing to laugh at themselves or make us laugh because Hitler and Toho are on the march, because those perilous times called for bubble-headed celebrities to make self-righteous speeches about how important they are? Hollywood was glorious during World War II — the movies, the radio shows, the Hollywood Canteen, the tours overseas, the music was all about helping us forget our troubles. Today the industry is so puffed up with self-importance, they think it’s their job to save the world. It’s grotesque and off-putting in the extreme.


Going into the Golden Globes, the biggest question was not who will win the night’s biggest awards but how much of a jerk Ricky Gervais would be. … On occasion, Gervais does genuinely speak truth to power, but much of the time he’s just, well, being kind of a dick. So we’ve separated the shocks from the sneers, the big swings from the petty jabs, and ranked them from most to least dickish. Enjoy?

These are a couple of the jokes Slate found “mean“:

I came here in a limo tonight, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman. It’s her daughter I feel sorry for. That must be the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to her, and her dad was in Wild Hogs.

The Irishman was amazing. Long, but amazing. It wasn’t the only epic movie. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere, and by the end, his date was too old for him. Even Prince Andrew’s like, “Come on, Leo, mate. You’re nearly 50, son.”

Naturally, the worst sycophant of all is the dreadful Deadline:

In his fifth stint as frontman for the still boozy NBC broadcast ceremony, After Life creator Gervais oddly distinctly avoided being topical on the whole with nothing directly to be said on escalating tensions in the Middle East, Donald Trump, the WGA’s battle with the uber-agencies over packaging. In fact, with the exception of a slicing Jeffrey Epstein remark at Tinseltown’s underbelly and a very unsuccessful Felicity Huffman prison slag[.]

Yeah, let’s not make fun of Felicity Huffman, a woman who used her celebrity, power, and wealth to cheat her kid into college at the expense of someone without power or wealth. Yeah, that’s Deadline’s idea of a sacred cow.

Forbes would have preferred no host at all to Gervais:

The Oscars and the Emmys went without a host in 2019. It’s a shame the 2020 Golden Globe Awards didn’t do the same.

Boundary-pushing is indeed admirable when there’s a point and focus to it. But that’s not what Gervais’ hosting does. He’s just mean. That’s not pushing boundaries or making satirical points for posterity.

The media have literally become the Celebrity Ego Protection League.

And this is why both Hollywood and the media have fallen so out of favor with the American people. Instead of informing and entertaining us, they instruct, lecture, and shame us. Instead of good-natured laughs or the passing on of information, it’s self-righteous sanctimony from humorless prigs who have deluded themselves into a sense of unearned superiority and importance to the world.

God bless Gervais. His only goal was to entertain those of us watching on TV, and he knows nothing is funnier or more liberating than mocking a room full of people who can’t take a joke.


Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.


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