Ricky Gervais (Getty)

    Laughing at Hollywood A listers is a uniquely British business

    15 January 2020

    Ricky Gervais’s savaging of the Hollywood elites at this year’s Golden Globes has already gone down in Hollywood legend. Amongst many things, it was a thoroughly proud moment for the British.

    Hilariously, it took a once little-known comic from Reading to knock some sense into a woke crowd insistent on browbeating their confused brand of socio-political positions upon the unsuspecting public.

    ‘If you do win an award tonight, please don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech’, Gervais warned. Then he perfectly articulated exactly what has been on the minds of us groundlings for years: ‘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.’

    It was ferocious, but Gervais was spot on. The notion that simply becoming famous grants you public equity as a nuanced cultural commentator is as stupid as it is maddening. Regular people do not want to be lectured to by highly-paid actors taking their dues from an industry hardly marked out by its morals. And yet as awards season rolls on, there’s a high chance the same mistakes will be repeated on stage at the Oscars.

    Whilst there’s no great problem with celebs using their fame to give a platform to important causes (Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield once covered their faces with pieces of paper filled with the details of small local charities, ensuring the paps gave these organisations some free press), something in our British mindset baulks when we’re told how to think by condescending thespians. And especially galling are those who leave no room for conversation, discussion or – heaven forbid – disagreement.

    Why have actors shed the ‘entertainer’ label and morphed into sanctimonious human moral compasses? Social media certainly doesn’t help the issue. Celebs are no longer filtered by their agents or tempered by carefully-worded press releases. No, they now possess a direct line to their followers and have gone giddy with the idea that their opinion is a gift to the world. The result? A perpetual torrent of headache-inducing rhetoric which flows liberally from iPhones of the blue-check celebrity class.

    In a brave new world of rights-based individualism, the rich and famous have been led to believe that the number of followers they have is reflective of how much they should assert their worldview.

    If Ricky’s monologue taught us anything it’s that our natural British cynicism is the perfect antidote to celebrity preaching. Perhaps it’s our innate disdain at being talked down to. Most likely, though, it’s that our uniquely sarcastic brand of humour just cannot stomach so much earnest pleading and nauseatingly subjective moral assertions. When people take themselves too seriously, the natural reaction of the British is to laugh at them. No wonder we find Hollywood’s antics so amusing.

    It’s time for the Hollywood types to stop lecturing the public on matters of personal choice and individual conviction, not least because most of them would allow their woke causes to melt away in the face of a lucrative filming contract. Too few acknowledge that their worldview stems from the people pulling the strings behind their movies – the West Coast liberal elites. These very same celebrities might soon find that their values have to shift in uncomfortable directions to accommodate new sources of funding from up and coming film industry financiers outside of the West. There’s a reason why you don’t catch A listers speaking out on a truly polemic subject like Hong Kong.

    In his inimitable style, Gervais reminded us to take Hollywood with a great big pinch of vegan salt. With any luck, he will have made the forthcoming Oscar winners think twice before taking their politics on stage with them as they collect their awards next month. But don’t hold your breath. I certainly won’t be holding mine.