Ricky Gervais is not your new best friend.
If you’re on the political right or a Trump supporter or an evangelical Christian, you might think you have a new ally in Hollywood. You do not.
But here’s the thing …
Ricky Gervais is a comic. And comics are about telling the truth. In fact, all artists should be about pointing out the absurd and exposing the truth in ways that make us think. The great ones do it in a way that is also entertaining.
Ricky Gervais is simply one more comic, in a long line of them, who has experienced the wrath of a new orthodoxy he did not see coming. He has found himself in the crosshairs of his own side of the political spectrum one too many times. And his inner artist simply cannot take it anymore.
If you watch almost any episode of Comedians, In Cars, Getting Coffee, you will eventually hear the comics veer into the problems they’re facing right now with political correctness. Every vocation of entertainment or art form will run into a nemesis. For songwriters, it has been streaming and pirating. For comedians it’s the new orthodoxy of political correctness.
Nothing is allowed to be funny anymore. Everything one side deems to be sacred, is sacred. And you’d better not send it up in any way or you’re a heretic. If this sounds like the Spanish Inquisition or the Third Reich or Militant Islam, it’s not. But it IS how things like that start.
Once you decide that your belief system is beyond reproach and above being lampooned, you are officially ORTHODOX.
One of the things a lot of people (particularly in the press) have still never understood about the Donald Trump phenomenon is that it is a revolution and and rebellion against the orthodoxy of politics as we have known it. When a press figure looks at the camera and rails about how “unpresidential” this was or how “unprecedented” that was or how something the president did is simply “not done,” they think they’re telling you something you didn’t already know. They think they’re explaining to you why you shouldn’t have voted for him and why he’s so horrible. What they don’t understand – and refuse to understand – is that they’re in the middle of a revolution where all those things they are reporting are embraced by the people who elected Donald Trump.
The days of saying pretty words to the camera and the American people, then screwing Marilyn Monroe in the back room are over. The days of acting presidential at a summit, then getting a blow job from an intern right after, are over. The days of being one person to the public and another one in private are done. The orthodoxy of the presidency is basically over. THAT is what Donald Trump is all about. That is the point. The tweeting; the combatting the press; the openly making fun of people; all of that is the point. That’s the revolution. And if you haven’t gotten it yet, you’re still living under the old orthodoxy.
By that same token, Ricky Gervais became that same wrecking ball for Hollywood, in what may have been his last hosting gig for an award show. He held the mirror up to them and said, “See? You’re as full of shit as everyone else is. You just don’t know it! Well I’m here to tell you!”
And anyone who frowned on his excoriating of the fortunate few, is still languishing in the old orthodoxy of elitist hypocrisy.
As a Jesus person, I came to terms with the absurdity of many of the people inside the faith, years and years ago. And if you can’t see that absurdity, you’re kidding yourself.
If you can’t see the absurdity in your own political tent, you’re kidding yourself as well. It’s always there. Because humans are always overreaching and embarrassing themselves and talking without thinking and making rules for the other guy, that make no sense, and basically being…well…absurd. And we must laugh at ourselves. We must take ourselves less seriously. We must be able to see our own hypocrisy. If we don’t, we lose a part of our humanity and empathy.
I’ll be interested, over the coming months, to see how Ricky is treated in his own community after his romp at the Golden Globes. And I do hope he doesn’t blame it on the beer and just owns it. Because he said to Hollywood – right to their face – what millions of people have wanted to say for so many years: if you have any sense of history, and you can look around this room and see the wealth and privilege and power that is wielded – based on ENTERTAINMENT – and not snicker at the absolute absurdity of being allowed to be here, at this time and place, you need to take a course in existential philosophy. And then you need to laugh about it after you graduate from it.
The United States is dealing with more conflict in the Middle East. Over what? Orthodoxy.
People are shamed and thrown into life-long depression over moral failings. Why? Orthodoxy.
Celebrities feel so confident in their beliefs that they get up at award shows and lecture the very people who pay for their lifestyles and ability to earn a living doing something they love. Why? Orthodoxy.
Ricky Gervais is not your new best friend. But he knows orthodoxy when he sees it. And like any good artist, he took it on, head on.
I’ll drink beer to that. Even if religion tells me I shouldn’t.
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