Ricky Gervais, Laura Ingraham and Their Silence of Those Who Don’t Look Like Them.
When we ring in a New Year, we so often think of it as a fresh start. A time when we can better ourselves and those around us. We come up with resolutions that we believe would make us better versions of ourselves. And within a few days of every new year, we are reminded that not everyone wants us to better ourselves. At last night’s Golden Globes awards, Ricky Gervais was that jerk. During his opening monologue, he said, “so if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You are 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, right? Come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your God and fuck off.”
The statement, in my opinion, isn’t a joke, despite Gervais being a comedian. Just like when Fox New’s Laura Ingraham said about LeBron James, “It’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball,” she said. “Keep the political comments to yourselves. … Shut up and dribble.” Gervais channeled his inner Laura Ingraham to tell a room full of human beings, much like you and me, to shut up and only dribble. It is easy for Gervais, a straight white, rich man, who so desperately is trying to hold on to his power to say that. Especially at a time when the United States is dealing with Impeachment of a president and an impending war with Iran, a genocide of muslims in China, and fires that burning throughout the continent of Australia due to climate change — that kept winner Russel Crowe away.
Last night also had some momentous firsts. Ramy Youssef, a Muslim American, won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Series, for his role in Ramy (which he also created). He is not the first Muslim to win a Golden Globe, but he did something long overdue at a Hollywood award ceremony. During his acceptance speech, he said, “I would like to thank my God. Allahu akbar. Thank you, God.” Awkwafina became the first Asian-American to win Best Actress at Golden Globes for her role in The Farewell. The insinuation that Youssef and Awkwafina, who undoubtedly had to work harder than someone like Gervais in Hollywood — because yes, Hollywood favors white men — should thank their agents, don’t get “political” and “fuck off” is dangerous. It is a way to silence those you disagree with or see as less than you.
During his 2017 SAG award acceptance speech, Bryan Cranston said, “We are human beings and citizens before we ever became actors and activists or artists of any kind. If something is important to you, if something appears before you in a way that feels oppression, it’s up to the citizenry to speak out. Not everybody agrees but that is part of the democracy is that we are allowed to do that. In so many countries around the world, you aren’t even allowed to voice objections or any dissent. Our country was founded on that. So we shouldn’t be afraid of it. We should embrace everything so that the voices are all heard, and then people make up their own minds on how they would like to continue.”
Every Actor or athlete is just as qualified to talk about politics or has the same rights to speak about injustices they see in the world as Ricky Gervais is or as any political commentator you see on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News. The United States government is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Each of us, in the United States, is free to speak and believe what we want to. Gervais is entirely in his right to say what he wanted to say, and judging by social media, the white boys club loved what he has to say. But he also has to deal with the fact that we all have the right to an opinion. When given a microphone that has the potential to be heard by billions of people around the globe, we have the power and perhaps the duty to speak up.
Gervais is a pompous narcissist who throws stones at others for voicing opinions that he disagrees with. He’s a petulant child who wants to silence those who have had to work harder than he to get to that stage. I get he is a comedian and this is his comedy. But his comedy last night, sounded a bit more like Laura Ingraham or Donald Trump — who both say they are “just joking” when they say highly inappropriate, racists, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and homophobic statements.