Ricky Gervais blasts Natalie Portman’s privileged activism
Ricky Gervais reclines in the bath in black and white to stage his protest against Hollywood abusers. It is a glorious send-up of Natalie Portman’s pricey Dior frock with golden embroidered names of the women directors who she believes were snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at the 2020 Oscars.
“Inspired by the brave Natalie Portman and her embroidered Oscars dress, I’ve written on my body all the known Hollywood perverts who haven’t been caught yet.” He points at some sharpie written names on his chest. “He’s a groper, we paid him off. Pedo.” He points to another. “Fuckin’ stick it anywhere. This c*nt is a complete nonce.”
Gervais is a master at skewering celebrity culture, here from the vantage point of his bath. As host of the Golden Globes, he gave voice to what so many viewers were thinking about the self-flagellating stars who struggle to come to terms with their own fame and influence.
During his most recent celebrated hosting gig at the Golden Globes, Gervais shredded the Hollywood elite by pointing out their hypocrisy and letting them in on some inconvenient truths. “Our next presenter starred in Netflix’s Bird Box, a movie where people survive by acting like they don’t see a thing – sort of like working for Harvey Weinstein,” he quipped. When the audience booed, he pointed to them and said, “You did it. I didn’t. You did it!”
Entertainers use their star power to pay tribute to their pet causes, whether they be Jane Fonda staging climate change protests on the steps of the Capitol, or Joaquin Phoenix speaking out against milk, or Portman advocating for gender diversity during awards season. The rest of us wonder why they don’t seem to be taking action in their lives. Fonda has routinely engaged in travel aboard private jets, Phoenix has probably enjoyed a glass of milk or two in his time before becoming vegan, and Portman’s own production company hasn’t hired women directors other than Portman.
This last failing was criticized roundly in the arena of social media. Portman sparked blowback from virtually all spheres after this revelation surfaced, despite the gold embroidered protest cape. To her credit, Portman acknowledged her own failings after actress Rose McGowan pointed them out. “I find Portman’s type of activism deeply offensive to those of us who actually do the work,” McGowan wrote on Facebook. “I’m not writing this out of bitterness, I am writing out of disgust. I just want her and other actresses to walk the walk.”
We’re not sure what work McGowan is actually doing, either. She directed an animated, political film called Pomerania, and she hosted a television documentary about abuse of power in Hollywood, but from what we can tell, she hasn’t been out there advocating for women directors. McGowan falls into the trap of believing that if a person is taking action against one injustice, it’s not valid unless she takes action against all the injustices at once, which is also the same as doing nothing.
Gervais pointed that out too, but he was funnier and also not a hypocrite
Natalie Portman’s protest for those women directors who weren’t nominated for an Academy Award this year was in subtle, gold embroidery on the edge of her custom Dior cape. This is just one of the many areas that a lack of diversity in the Academy Awards was called out by those who walked the red carpet.
“I wanted to recognize the women who were not recognized for their incredible work this year in my subtle way,” Portman told an interviewer on the red carpet. Her stunning and brave protest was well noted around the web.
The directors she listed on her cape were for a host of movies I didn’t see this year. Notably, I didn’t see any of the Oscar nominated movies this year. So basically, I snubbed all the directors, including those men who were nominated, so I am an equal opportunity Oscar snubber.
I think we can all agree that one of the most tragic blows to feminism is when 8 female Hollywood film directors don’t get nominated for a big award. It’s shameful, and it’s bold of Portman to point this out in gold on Dior.
It’s about as bold as a Bernie sticker on a Bentley. Or complaints that Faberge Eggs aren’t sourced cage-free and organic. Or wanting mink to be killed humanely before their fur is made into coats. Or holding charity galas to end poverty. Or when Mercedes used Janis Joplin’s song to sell cars. Is it hypocrisy to combat inequality at the highest levels of society with the most haute of couture fashion houses? How much can one little cape really take on?
Lots of people loved it.
Still others decried it as just another sign of white feminism, which is that thing where white women fight for women’s rights first instead putting every other social justice cause first.
But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is not the big bad monolith it was once considered to be. There are about 8,500 eligible Oscar voters in each of 17 categories, from editors to actors and everything in between. Voters in each category vote for the best in that category, and then the top picks from each category are voted on by everyone.
Should those 8,500 people be given guidelines along with their screeners to make sure that they are adequately taking the gender of directors into account when they are casting their votes? Should these voters be doing something other than voting for those films and artists that they feel are the best, in their humble estimations?
Diversity of gender in the best director category was not the only place where artists and the audience had complaints. The Academy knew it, and they didn’t seem super happy about it either. In fact, they had Utkarsh Ambudkar pop up for some freestyle rap to give a rundown of the diversity scorecard of the show thus far.
This same diversity question comes up at every awards show, including this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Awards, where even Prince William felt compelled to remark upon the lack of diversity in an awards show for which he has been the president for a decade.
No one wants this problem, not the awards shows, or their executives, or the artists, or the audience. But they don’t know how to fix it. It would be more than unfair to have categories specifically for minority artists, or to consider an artist’s race, ethnicity in determining an award. There are separate categories for male and female artists, and Portman’s cape begs the question of whether there should be separate sex categories for all the categories. Should there be best female editor and best male editor? Best female director and best male director? Best Black female director? Best South Asian transgender costume designer?
It seems absurd, but what is really being asked, and what is the accusation? Is it that the 8,500 Academy Awards voters are all racist and misogynist? Is it that an artist’s background be given weight or demerit (in the case of white men) toward their score?
Portman’s cape claims these women were snubbed. But there’s no way to know who they were snubbed by. The Academy doesn’t know, the voters don’t know, the audience doesn’t know. All we know for sure is that many people thought the Academy Awards had the appearance of unfairness. But we don’t know anything at all about if it was actually unfair, or if it only looked that way from the red carpet
Trans activist Jessica Yaniv is back, and we’re giving her attention yet again. After recently suing yet another immigrant-owned beauty salon for allegedly not waxing Jessica’s hairy legs, Yaniv has also publicly denounced one of the world’s most buzzing comedians: Ricky Gervais.
Gervais, who just knocked his Golden Globe hosting duties out of the park, recently announced that he would be touring North America and Europe, with stops in Toronto and Vancouver. While most Canadians with a good sense of humour are likely fans of Gervais, at least one Vancouverite felt as though the tour should have no place in her city.
“No,” tweeted Yaniv. “I’m not allowing this,” she replied to news of Gervais’ visit.
Gervais and Yaniv have a bit of a history. Last fall, Gervais caught wind of the first round of Yaniv hysteria involving Jessica, unsuccessfully, trying to sue immigrant women for not waxing her male genitals.
This prompted Gervais to poke fun at her, joking that he would dress as Yaniv for Halloween, tweeting: “I was going to dress up as something weird and creepy for my Halloween party, but I’m bucking the trend this year and I’m going as brave female activist Jessica Yaniv. This also means I don’t have to wax my big old hairy balls.”
This led to “backlash,” as bloggers who couldn’t take a joke became upset that Gervais would dare poke fun at a brave, beautiful woman like Yaniv. The joke, though, wasn’t off-brand for the comedian. In his 2015 Netflix comedy special Humanity, Gervais joked similarly about Caitlyn Jenner’s driving troubles.
“She became a role model for trans people everywhere–showing great bravery in breaking down barriers and destroying stereotypes. She didn’t do a lot for women drivers.”
Despite all the faux-controversy, Gervais’ tour is expected to sell out internationally.
“Considered the most influential British comedian since Charlie Chaplin, Ricky Gervais is an award-winning stand-up comedian, with five international tours to date,” Live Nation posted in the show’s announcement.
“His live stand-up show ‘Fame’ became the fastest-selling UK stand-up show in history. Gervais can most recently be seen in the dark comedy ‘After Life,’ which he created, directs, stars in and executive produced.”
You can buy tickets to Gervais’ live shows here.
The 77th Annual Golden Globes came and went again last night: snooze fest. Full disclosure the only reason I watched was for host and funny man Ricky Gervais. If you’re a fan of stand up comedy you likely already know of Ricky Gervais’s legendary hosting of the Golden Globes. Last night marked the fifth time Gervais hosted the pretentious, I mean prestigious event.
Ricky’s style as a comedian is unmatched in terms of his relentless hammering of a joke. He’s crass and unashamed of it, and what do you have to be ashamed of when all of your jokes are rooted in undeniable truths. Watch the full opening monologue here.
What makes Ricky Gervais such a perfect addition to the hobnobbery is that he’s playing to the camera and ergo the folks at home. He’s cracking jokes for the people who got dragged into watching it because their date or friend has asked them to. He’s lining up tour dates for himself via the golden globes gig which is at least smart if nothing else. He is taking the urine, as they say in jolly old England and boy what better event in need of just that.
I didn’t want to miss a moment of Ricky so I was tuned in about a half an hour before because I had to find an illegal stream to watch it on. I was watching for some of the preshow madness or red carpet as they call it. Interviews with make-up caked faces and the kind of dresses that were made to trip over it were something else, I tell ya. It’s a convention of narcissists who just can’t help themselves on such a night. One nice example of that was Nicole Kidman doing laps around people getting interviewed before crashing them altogether.
The interview formula seems pretty standard, tell the celebrity how amazing they look and ask them what brand of clothing they’re in deep stuff. Exactly the type of conversation that would precursor a lecture about the state of politics and the world at large and there was certainly no shortage of that. Celebs accepted their awards with lots to say about climate change, vegan diet alternatives, diversity in Hollywood, abortion rights and so on.
I suppose that the oddest thing for me was just how bad these actors are at acting. Sure, they’re award winners and many have impressed me in roles before such as Joaquin Phoenix who went on to give a long incoherent speech about something. I’m not sure what but he’s unhappy, I know that much as were most stars last night. They seem to have the most trouble with acting as their authentic selves. You’d think that acting as a normal person would be easy for such trained professionals but their facial expressions and timing always seemed off. Give them a good script and a great director and they can transform into just about anybody but leave them up at the podium all by themselves and they forget everything they’ve ever learned in theatre school.
That is why a host like Ricky Gervais so imperative to keeping the boat from drifting out into dangerously self-aggrandizing waters. He trolls the reverence, skewers the hypocrisy and acts as a cultural translator between the Hollywood elite and the blue collars that keep the box-office running. He was the best thing to happen to the affair.
A joke that stands alone from his 2016 opening monologue went, “One Hollywood publication said that me hosting would mean that some film stars would stay away for fear of being made fun of. As if film stars would stay away from a chance to win a golden globe…particularly if their film company has already paid for it.” It gets the kind of involuntary reaction that is priceless, especially from Hollywood film company producer Harvey Weinstein, who enjoyed the joke in a way that was proof positive that it wasn’t hardly a joke at all.
For his fifth, and possibly final performance as the host of the Globes he seemed to be tamer than his previous performance in 2016 which I would argue was his best. He also chose to go less after individual celebrities and more so after the companies and corporations that dictate Hollywood’s fad-like mandates. When he did take a swing at them though, he threw his whole body behind it. “Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China.” That got a lukewarm response before Gervais turned the sentiment onto the crowd, “Well you say you’re woke but the companies you work for, I mean, unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney…I mean if ISIS started a streaming service, you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you? So 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, right, come up accept your little award, thank your agent and your god and f*ck off.”
Took the words out of my mouth, thanks Ricky. Of course, many media outlets scolded Ricky for his lack of concern for the various social issues of the world. The Los Angeles Times headline read, “Politics reigned at the Golden Globes. Too Bad Ricky Gervais didn’t notice.” The Washington Post headline declared, “At the Golden Globes, Gervais’s sharpest barb poked Hollywood’s piety. Nobody cared.” I dare say Ricky is the only one who did seem to care, at least when it came to speaking on issues earnestly. One joke was, “Our next presenter was in starred in Netflix’s Bird Box, a movie where people survive by acting like they don’t see a thing—sort of like working for Harvey Weinstein.” That was met with boos and groans to which Gervais wasted no time retorting with, “You did it! I didn’t you did it!”
Another great example of Gervais putting the master in master of ceremonies is his ability to predict the predictable, dogmatic Hollywood psyche and false sense of ethics. A joke regarding Epstein was a testament to the comic’s timing. While referring to his own show Afterlife Ricky goes on to say, ” So, in the end, he didn’t kill himself, just like Jefferey Epstein,” upon groans to that Gervais tells the audience, “Shut up, I know he’s your friend but I don’t care.”
What Gervais does is hold a mirror up to the Hollywood elite, but for once, they don’t enjoy looking into it. If in the end, this is Gervais’s last time hosting, it will likely be my last time watching as well.
Hosting the 77th annual Golden Globes tonight was Ricky Gervais. After he unapologetically spoke out about the Jessica Yaniv “wax my balls” controversy and supported J.K. Rowling’s tweets in favor of biological reality, there was much speculation as to whether he would skewer identity politics as host of this year’s awards show.
Patricia Arquette called on Gervais to apologize for his jokes, telling Variety “I think it’s a really important conversation for everybody to have… I just don’t think anything’s funny about making fun of the trans community. They’re really persecuted, so I don’t think it’s funny.”
Gervais stuck to his guns though, telling the Hollywood audience, “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world.”
Gervais clearly had no intention of apologizing, or excusing himself from hosting the awards show. He noted “I also make jokes about AIDS, Cancer, Famine, and The Holocaust. Those things do a bit of harm too. But jokes don’t.”
As he took the stage, Gervais was greeted with applause from the crowd. “You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I just don’t care anymore.” Noting that of course he never cared. “They’re just jokes, we’re all gonna die soon, and there’s no sequel.”
Tom Hanks seemed displeased about Gervais joke that the license plate on his limo was made by Felicity Huffman. He made jokes about Hollywood being racist, afraid of Ronan Farrow, and pitched the audience on watching his Netflix show Afterlife, about a suicidal widower, instead of the Golden Globes.
He said that the second season of Afterlife shows that the main character didn’t kill himself, just like Jeffrey Epstein. The crowd groaned. He said “I know he was your friend, I just don’t care.”
Gervais also took aim at Leonardo DiCaprio for his notoriously young girlfriends, comparing him to Prince Andrew. He noted that films are so long that by the time the premieres are over, DiCaprio’s girlfriends are too old for him.
Gervais skewered the Hollywood elite, criticizing the new Apple streaming service and mentioning sweatshops in China. He addressed the audience directly and said, “The Morning Show is a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Apple, Amazon, Disney … You say you’re woke but if ISIS started a streaming service you would call your agents. But if you do win an award tonight, don’t make a political speech… Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
The lesson? Gervais doesn’t care if he’s controversial, and what a refreshing change that is. It’s the kind of change we actually need in entertainment.