Gervais’s Scathing Opening Monologue at the Golden Globes

Ricky Gervais and his opening monologue at the annual Golden Globes Award Show

It’s award show season once again and the first one of the year is already rife with controversy. Ricky Gervais, in his 5th and last year of hosting, opened the show with a brutal satire on the ceremony and Hollywood in general. He started the monologue with a simple declaration of  “I don’t care anymore” in reference to this being his last hosting gig. He continued by taking a jab at the Hollywood Foreign Press, the organizers of the Golden Globes, by insinuating that they’re so out of touch that he received his hosting invitation by fax. Gervais doubled down on berating the HFP by pointing out the lack of minority and non-male nominations at the award show. He transitioned to talking about Netflix and how the show should just be him coming out, congratulating Netflix on winning everything, and then leaving. This then led into Gervais’ more controversial material. He mentioned Epstien, which received a hefty amount of groans, before quickly turning it on the audience by saying “Shut up, I know he was your friend. I don’t care.” The eight minute monologue continued with Gervais’ typical raunchy, vulgar style of comedy, but the ending is what has everyone talking. 

Gervais quickly targeted Apple, who’s CEO was in the audience, pointing out the hypocrisy in a company running sweatshops making a show about dignity and doing the right thing. He quickly shutdown any audience members cheering by stating “if ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?” Gervais finally concluded the vulgar, brutal monologue by asking anyone who wins an award not to make any political speech as they know nothing of the real world, and telling them to f*** off. 

The reactions, not only during the speech but afterwards as well, were incredible. While some took the less than lightheart jabs in stride many celebrities in the audience were visibly uncomfortable. The responses to Gervais’ speech were divisive to say the least. Many blasted Gervais’ nihilism and vulgarity during a difficult political time. “The last thing anyone needed was for the smirking master of ceremonies to reprimand them for having hope,” wrote Los Angeles Times reporter Lorraine Ali. On the other hand, many people praised the British comedian for ‘exposing woke Hollywood’. 

Honestly, as it usually does, the correct answer is found somewhere in the middle of both responses. Exposing the hypocrisy and monopolization of big corporations is a just cause, and the train of thought where the rich shouldn’t talk on problems they have no ties to is respectable as well. However, celebrities are some of the most influential people on the planet, and many weren’t born into wealth. Russel Crowe, who won the award for best actor in a mini-series, couldn’t make it to the show as he’d been busy helping with the bush fires in his homeland of Australia. Joaquin Phoenix, who is very public of his activism, used his speech to urge his fellow actors to take action rather than simply acknowledge problems. All in all, Gervais speech served as a catalyst for deeper conversations about the role celebrities play in society.