All week long, the Interwebs have been atwitter (did you see how I did that?) with Ricky Gervais’ celebrity-roasting performance at the Golden Globes. Did he go too far? Was it all a bit mean-spirited? Was he too hard on his fellow celebrities who, after all, do a thankless job occupying roughly the same category as, say, harvesting blood diamonds or scouring Indian landfills for plastic (apparently)?
Wait. All Gervais did was shine a light on the inherent absurdity of a system that rewards off-the-rails drunken behavior by making you one of the highest paid TV stars in America (read: Charlie Sheen). Oh, and he poked passing fun at one prominent adherent of a religion that was invented by a mediocre science fiction novelist in the 1950s.
At least some celebrities got the joke, like Christian Bale, who (let’s face it) is prone to the odd chemically-induced blowup himself. But for the most part, Hollywood is following the usual script for such occasions, taking the line that they are basically Very Serious People who cannot be mocked, even when they engage in behavior that would get most of us banned from the family Christmas party, for starters.
Mind you, in poking fun at Hollywood’s celebrity culture, Gervais was shining an unflattering light on all of us who lend credence to these vacuous celluloid heroes by watching a hour of “Two and a Half Men” reruns every night. (Will the dorky, slightly awkward one get the girl THIS TIME?) Or by picking up that magazine with the airbrushed celebrity on the cover, even as we bemoan the fact that our culture defines beauty too narrowly and regards old age as a fate worse than leprosy.
In any case, I don’t see what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is so upset about. Nobody’s ever talked (or cared) this much about the Golden Globes before.