the Gauntlet

A defense of Gervais

Oh, and the Golden Globes were good too

Publication YearIssue Date 

A British comedian famous for his off-colour and awkward humour has, for the last two years, been reinvigorating a dusty and damaged franchise.

Awards shows have been on a decline even since the infamous writer's strike. And yet, under Gervais' stewardship, the trend is starting to reverse -- the number of viewers tuning increased for the first time in years.

The bitingly funny Brit, most famous for co-creating The Office with Stephen Merchant, took to the stage to emcee the 2011 Golden Globes on the heels of his successful performance in the same role last year.

His monologue was filled with digs, barbs and jibes at Hollywood royalty. He appeared on Conan a few days before the show, explaining that a gag involving a Nazi uniform had been shot down. His performance was incredibly caustic and irreverent. But at the same time, in Gervais' unique way, the show was hilariously funny and absolutely entertaining.

The show's wake has been filled with clamoring about some of his edgier material. Hollywood Reporter has stated that it will "undoubtedly be his last hosting gig for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (and, who knows, maybe any Stateside awards)." The New York Times echoed these sentiments in their review of the show. Rumours circulated on Twitter during Gervais' an extended disappearance -- he was out of sight for about an hour -- that he was being reeled in or even fired.

And yet, if anyone remembers, last year saw Gervais embrace a similar caustic style. Though he was more self-effacing, he made digs at writers and actors, and took very specific shots at Steve Carell and Mel Gibson, among others. He ruled with the same kind of off-the-cuff humour that could have been scripted but also made up on the spot. His style was even present in the 2009 Golden Globes, where he took the time during an award presentation to make a Holocaust joke (albeit a tame one).

Gervais aside, the rest of the show was good, too. There was the surprise of The Social Network grabbing Best Drama -- which isn't all that surprising in hindsight as the win comes on the heels of Mark Zuckerberg claiming Time's Person of the Year, not to mention the excellent cast and crew. To that end, Aaron Sorkin won best screenplay, David Fincher won Best Director and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross were rewarded for the excellent sound track they provided for the film. Inception was shut out and Black Swan only accrued Best Actress in Drama for Natalie Portman's performance, despite considerable buzz surrounding both films.

The rest of the show was fairly unsurprising. The fantastically produced Boardwalk Empire usurped Mad Men as best television drama. Glee faired well, as it usally does, picking up the award for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical. The Kids Are Alright scooped up the award for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Muscial in what was a mediocre category.

Viewership was up for this year's Globes and it's no surprise. With incessant stories of special treatment and indulgence spreading across the media and the Internet, people delight in witnessing celebrities being cut down to size and Gervais seems to be extraordinarily good at it. Comedians have long found celebrities to be easy targets, but Gervais has flipped the situation on it's head by flaunting the jokes in the celebrities' faces.

Despite the persistent rumours that Gervais will never host an award show again, it's becoming obvious that people do like him and his style of comedy. It may be offensive to those celebrities that utterly lack a sense of humour, but they've got to realize, with great power comes great responsibility -- the responsibility to take it like a champ when someone pokes fun at your ridiculous antics. I'm looking at you Charlie Sheen.