Ricky Gervais
Cover of Ricky Gervais

The press is abuzz with the news from Sunday night. In America, the New York Jets won against the New England Patriots in a game even the fans believed a done-deal. After the game, the rest of the world in the form of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and their Golden Globe Award, took to the airwaves and, if the script had been followed the way it usually and predictably had been for years, it would have gone off as yet another epic example of ego-stroking.

Thank God for Ricky Gervais.

I know I won’t be in great company for my praise of Mr. Gervais’ performance last night. During the show, Robert Downey Jr. took brief but telling umbrage with Gervais’ biting style. Maybe the crowd was aghast with the comment preceding Bruce Willis‘ entry to the stage of being “Ashton Kutcher‘s dad,” and maybe people go on African safari to see the lions and are shocked when they spy a pride taking down a zebra and ripping it’s head off. That’s what Ricky Gervais does. We know that, but why didn’t they? Has anyone bothered to see the original UK version of The Office, or did the American remake render that one unnecessary?

Bruce Willis at a Live Free or Die Hard (Die H...
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Because it is clear that the gated-community mentality of the Hollywood elite is painfully out of touch with the modern world. Yes, they want their cut of royalties from DVD/Blu-rays, Netflix rentals and YouTube screenings, but the notion that their escapades are barfed all over the lines of communication hasn’t wormed it’s way through that thick, self-absorbed collective skull. The concept that their lives are so transparent that we might know what they’re up to before they do is nothing new to apparently all but them. Was calling out Charlie Sheen’s drunken trysts with porn stars in bad taste in the award show venue? Maybe. But there once was a time when all the insiders kept the secret amongst themselves in hushed tones, and the press played along because, after all, these were our idols. These are the people we looked up to. Why should anyone expose just how human and faulty they actually are?

Having said that, there is a bit of sympathy to be offered to the celebrities. While they should have recognized Gervais as a take-no-prisoners kind of comedian, and they should have realized their exploits have been played out behind see-through screens and closed doors with massive, look-at-me picture windows, one could characterize these statements as the sucker punches they were meant to be. Yes, I do feel bad for those who may be suffering and struggling with issues, only to have those issues thrown back at them at what they thought was a party in their honor. For them, I do feel the sting of the harshness of some of the comments.

The American fascination with celebrity and stardom is as epidemic as it has ever been, to the extent that I am speaking of it a day later and that you are so engaged in the subject that you’re reading this. Yes, we are in a manner equally complicit in building up the idols we enjoy seeing torn down. And there are some stars that never asked for that bus to coming along, much less to be thrown under it. We can all rattle off a short-list of folks in the spotlight that got the shaft by cruel circumstances and crueler cohorts. And there are still more that are struggling with their addictions and proclivities and are trying to do something about them. When they win, many go on to attempt to help others, using that struggle as a source of inspiration for others. For them, having their bad days blown up poster-sized, and mocked heartlessly, is wrong.

For others, the ones who seem so unrepentant, almost proud, of their bad behavior and their core beliefs that everyone has to tip-toe around them, whisper their tsk-tsks, nod away in acquiescence but play the game and polish that golden star, there is a saying as old as their celebrity buddy system, perhaps older: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. You can go on epic benders, shoot anything that moves and have sex with everything that doesn’t, act like a prima donna that deserves all the adoration the world can muster just to fuel your sense of self importance, but it doesn’t mean you should. It doesn’t mean your star-kin should accept, overlook or condone that behavior. While I have no doubt that Gervais will take heat for the things he said, and for the sake of his career he’ll have to backpedal a little (or a lot), the best way not to be called out for inappropriate actions is not to engage in inappropriate actions.

Charlie Sheen in March 2009
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The non-celebs of this world may wake up this morning with a little more spring in their step. These folks that can’t go one over the speed limit without drawing the wrath of the local gendarmes, can’t make a single verbal faux pas without having it repeated back to them every humiliating day thereafter, and have to bear the weight of their transgressions without the money or influence to shut ’em all up – this morning might feel like the odds were evened just a tiny bit. Like I said before, it will be brief. Gervais will take his lumps and not be invited back, but considering how the World Press is kind of tired of the way¬† the American Entertainment Complex molds the dialogue and expects everyone else to read it, I don’t think he’s going to suffer too badly.

And to the American Entertainment Complex, if all you really want is a yes-man to kneel before the nominees, I’m sure you know where to find them.

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