Ricky Gervais's performance at the Golden Globes tonight was classic Gervais: incisive, brutal, and loaded with uncomfortable truths [Watch his opening monologue now, if you haven't. It's the stuff of legend.]
But it's a good thing we have reporters like Mary McNamara, writing for the LA Times, to protect the bruised egos of these poor, poor millionaire superstar actors and directors:
This year, [Gervais] was far better prepared, and one would imagine, much sweatier, as it quickly became clear that his material wasn't just falling flat, it was making many audience members and presenters uncomfortable and even angry...Poking fun at big stars is in the job description. But televised teasing requires a lightness of touch or else it quickly becomes bullying.
For a few short hours, an awards show host wields undeniable power. He or she can make a joke about someone in the audience and that person is stuck between a camera and a hard place — get all shirty about it and you risk looking like Sean Penn defending Jude Law from Chris Rock's rather gentle ribbing. So most just smiled, perhaps at the memory of Gervais' own dismal box office record, and prayed for a quick cutaway.
McNamara's piece is well-written, but sheesh. Here we have a situation where we finally have a comedian who is willing to speak truth to (box office) power and shake things up a bit, and you're going to argue for the status quo? Take a step back from your job and think about the extraordinary dressing down that Gervais gave everyone, HFPA-included, tonight. Gervais may not ever be invited back again, but for one night, he knocked a few inches off the Hollywood pedestal that the public is only too-willing to place our stars upon. For that, we can marvel and be grateful.