Ricky Gervais tore into Hollywood elites during his opening monologue at the 77th Golden Globe Awards. With every joke, he proceeded unperturbed despite the famous faces in front of him, which included Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Elton John, Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, and Ellen DeGeneres.
“You came here in your limos,” the 58-year-old comedian told the crowd. “I came here in a limo tonight, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman,” referencing the Desperate Housewives star’s 11-day stunt in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal. Gervais shushed moans as the camera revealed a shocked Tom Hanks.
Gervais then roasted the major film and TV executives in the room, calling them “perverts” and suggesting how they must be “terrified” of Ronan Farrow–the journalist who helped expose Harvey Weinstein in 2017–warning that “he’s coming for you.” He also slammed celebrities for their relation to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein: “I know he’s your friend, but I don’t care.”
In another joke, he labeled the Foreign Press as “very, very racist” to explain the lack of diversity in the evening’s major categories. After this, the Internet got another Tom Hanks meme.
The five-time Globe host and three-time Globe winner continued his ridicule of Hollywood’s push for diversity, adding, “We were going to do an ‘In Memoriam’ this year, but when I saw the list of people that had died, it wasn’t diverse enough. No, it was mostly white people, and I thought, ‘No. Not on my watch.'”
Toward the end, Gervais slammed Apple TV’s drama series The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. He called it “a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing made by a company that runs sweatshops in China . . . You say you’re woke, but the companies you work for, I mean, unbelievable–Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t ya?”
Every critique Gervais expressed toward Hollywood elites built toward the main point of his monologue:
“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. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and f*** off.”
As of January 7, Gervais’ monologue has garnered 10 million views on YouTube. However, the show’s ratings fell 11% from 2019 according TheWrap, attracting 18.325 million viewers. Fox News praised him for exposing Hollywood’s hypocrisy, while The Washington Post, Daily News, Vanity Fair, USA Today, and Los Angeles Times were among the news organizations that criticized Gervais’ offensive jokes. He has since defended himself in several tweets, one of which discredits the notion that his “teasing huge corporations and the richest, most privileged people in the world” represented right-wing talking points.
Some celebrities laughed at his jokes; others shook their heads and hardly smiled. And his wishes to keep politics out of acceptance speeches weren’t granted.
Chernobyl screenwriter Jared Harris threw shade at President Trump when he said the “cost of lies . . . becomes more relevant with each passing day’s news cycle.” 1917 director Sam Mendes hoped that another world war would not occur, an obvious reference to the President’s ordering of the Baghdad airport airstrike that killed Iran’s top military commander Soleimani.
Joker actor Joaquin Phoenix began his speech by thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press for “acknowledging the link between animal agriculture and climate change.” That night, the Golden Globes only served vegan (meat and dairy free) cuisine. Actress Cate Blanchett added to the climate discussion by calling the fires in Australia a “climate disaster” and saying that “. . . when one country faces a climate disaster, we all face a climate disaster.”
And Russell Crowe, although absent to accept the evening’s first award due to the fires, sent his message to the Globes, read by an emotional Jennifer Aniston: “The tragedy unfolding in Australia is climate-change based. We need to act based on science, move our global workforce to renewable energy, and respect our planet for the unique and amazing place it is. That way, we all have a future.”
Actress Michelle Williams spoke about a women’s right to choose, and actress Patricia Arquette dissed the President’s recent threat on Twitter to attack 52 Iranian sites but his lack of involvement in Australia’s fires (however, President Trump offered assistance to Australia on January 6, the day after the Globes). She said, “We’re not going to look back on this night in the history books. We will see a country on the brink of war, the United States of America,” and encouraged guests and viewers to vote for a candidate in 2020 that clearly meant anyone but Trump.
The Office co-creator and co-director may have used what he calls his last time hosting the Globes to defend free speech for comedians, although some critiques felt his plea limited speech. With the next presidential election just months away, the question remains: should celebrities use an awards stage as a soapbox to advocate any political ideal? Or should they follow Ricky’s advice–thank whomever and leave the stage?
Following Kevin Hart’s controversy with hosting the Oscars and now Ricky Gervais’ Globes chaos, will award shows ditch hiring hosts as the battle for free speech intensifies?