Gervais to Hollywood: 'Be afraid. Be very afraid.'

Posted by · 7:34 pm · November 17th, 2011

Are you surprised? Well, if you”ve been reading the site, then perhaps not. In Contention informed of Ricky Gervais”s imminent return to Golden Globes hosting duties (read: indiscriminate razing of Hollywood”s collective egos) in August and then again earlier this month. Still, given the recent Oscarcast shake-up, today”s official announcement could be interpreted as the Globes, in essence, sticking their tongue out and saying, “Suck it Oscars. The Globes aren’t afraid of a live wire.”

Gervais Tweeted his intentions clearly: “It’s gonna be biblical.” Anyone familiar with the Brit comedian”s view on religion knows that “biblical” (in Gervais speak) may well mean full of epically scaled exaggeration, fancy and lies. (TO BE CLEAR – that is not my take on the bible so please release the caps lock button.) It is simply my best estimation of the comedian”s implications. It could also denote a grandiose disaster that only the animals will survive…if anyone.

If last year”s telecast is to be any indication, it will be a bit of all of the above. In point of fact, as The Guardian reports, when Gervais was asked how he would handle a third turn as the host of the Golden Globes, he replied simply, “I’ll go fucking mental.”

So you”re lucky, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, so very lucky, that this year brought us, the viewing public, “Moneyball,” and you a legitimate reason to invite the Pitt-Jolies to supper. “They must be mad,” Gervais said of the HFPA in a statement (via Reuters) on Thursday. “Not sure if I’m flattered that they trust me or insulted that they trust me. Either way…they shouldn’t trust me.”

So why have they trusted him after the previous head of the HFPA referred to last year”s performance as “totally unacceptable?” The answer is simple: they don”t. Gervais has said that many celebrities were unjustly offended in 2011 and that this year he is “going to make sure their offense is completely justified.” He is going to be an absolute bastard, a hilarious, irreverent, offensive bastard. He is also going to generate ratings. So there is our answer. Gervais is a ratings grabber that HFPA would be foolish to pass on. The truth is that many will tune in just to see how far he will go. By the way, it”s going to be far.

What is interesting to note is the difference between the HFPA”s host selection versus the Academy”s. One is a very safe choice while the other is a clear risk. Shortly after the HFPA”s official announcement, Gervais Tweeted “He’d better not use any of my holocaust or pedophile material” in reference to Oscar host Billy Crystal.

The contrast may actually work in everyone”s favor. People will tune in to see what shenanigans Gervais will get up to during the Globes, be inexplicably shocked when he tells the truth as he sees it (and/or makes an actual pedophilia joke) and be ready for Crystal”s more family- (and celebrity-) friendly brand of humor come Oscar time. The variance in the two comedian”s styles should also put the awards shows into perspective.

As Guy previously reported, Gervais himself does not necessarily believe that the Oscarcast is the appropriate venue for his particular flavor of cheek. It is his belief that the Academy Awards viewership, “[doesn’t] want to hear jokes, they want to hear who”s won the most important award of their career,” which, as Guy rightly pointed out at the time takes a subtle jab at the Globes. Gervais”s assertion that the Globes invites comedy whereas the Oscars do not essentially translates to, “Have you seen the Globes? They”re eating during the ceremony; it”s basically celebrity dinner theatre.”

I find that the difference between Crystal and Gervais”s humor is analogous to the contrast between Steve Carell”s Michael Scott and Ricky Gervais”s David Brent on the American and British versions of “The Office.” As someone who was an enormous fan of the British version (and as such completely prepared to detest the American iteration), I was surprised to find that the comedic styles were in many ways complementary. David Brent was a shockingly funny and hopelessly irredeemable character and it was impossible to turn away from his appalling and often legitimately repulsive antics. But Michael Scott”s sweet (painfully inept) innocence was equally engaging.

That is not to say that Mr. Crystal is not all that bright (he clearly is) or that Mr. Gervais is an asshole (though he clearly is – in the best possibly way), it is simply to say that, often, diversity is both nice and appropriate.

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