The Golden Globe award ceremonies are a time to look back over the months that have passed and celebrate the major achievements in the world of film and television. By the end of last year's glittering event though, several people had stopped looking back in nostalgia and were looking forward to next year's event. Not with a view to making an award-winning film. but to prevent Ricky Gervais from landing the job as the ceremony's host again.
The British star & co-creator of The Office caused controversy in 2011 with his outlandish gags and occasionally scathing remarks. Ricky Gervais has polarised opinion for many years. Despite the phenomenal success of The Office (which was bought by NBC and remade for an American audience), some viewers still can't take to the subtle humour of his Slough-based comedy. Subtlety, though, certainly wasn't an issue when Gervais took to the stage to present the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards in front of a room full of A-list Hollywood stars and millions of people watching on their televisions at home.
Although some fellow celebrities - British comedian James Corden being one - spoke out in favour of Gervais' performance, the overwhelming sentiment seemed to be that he should not be asked back for a third year running in 2012. In a move that dumbfounded many, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association have invited Ricky Gervais to return to the stage once more in 2012, in a televised ceremony that will take place this Sunday, January 15.
You may well imagine that Gervais has been asked to tone down his humour for the 2012 event, to avoid upsetting the many movie stars set to grace the red carpet and attend the event. Among the nominees this year are Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Kate Winslet and it's unlikely any of them will be looking forward to hearing what he has to say about them, given his put-downs last year. He chose to single out the troubled actor Charlie Sheen, whom many considered a vulnerable character at the time, saying "it's gonna be a night of partying and heavy drinking. Or as Charlie Sheen calls it: breakfast" and made a sly dig at ANGELINA JOLIE and Johnny Depp's film The Tourist: "It seems like everything this year was three-dimensional... except the characters in The Tourist."
According to Ricky himself, though, he has insisted on free reign and full artistic license on his jokes. In a blog post late last year on his own website, Gervais made a persuasive argument for the reasons he chose to be so controversial in 2011: "An award show is not a spectator sport. I tried to make it one. I made a choice. Please the 200 most privileged people in the world, in the room, or please the 200 million ordinary people watching around the world on TV? I chose the latter." The HFPA have reportedly asked him to submit his script two days before the awards but admit that he will be a tough character to 'muzzle'.
In Gervais' eyes, his jokes last year were not actually all that offensive and feels that the stars on the sharp end of his wit were wrong to be offended. So, rather than toning things down, it appears that Ricky Gervais is all geared up to ramp things up a notch. Even before the ceremony has started, Gervais has started pushing some buttons with his comic critique of the Hollywood lifestyle. On 9th January he posted a picture of himself on Twitter, with the accompanying message "Some last minute preparation so I don't look out of place at The Golden Globes." The accompanying picture showed him in front of the Modern Institute of Plastic Surgery & Anti Aging, clutching a handful of dollar bills. In itself, it may not be hugely offensive but it seems that Ricky is letting the people of Hollywood know that they will not be in for an easy ride.
It's not only his Golden Globe performance that has landed Gervais in hot water, though, over the last 12 months. He has made a few remarks, via his Twitter feed that have sparked outrage. In October 2011, an article published in The Guardian criticised his use of the word 'mong' and two months later, landed him in trouble with Christian groups when he spoke out about his atheism. The ongoing spat led him to defend himself by saying "I am not anti Christian. I am anti bigot. I don't believe in ANY god. I treat all religions equally. And all good people."
Some of Gervais' followers on Twitter have been fuelling his mischievous nature by suggesting stars that he may like to pick on at the year's Golden Globes. Last year, he introduced the actor Bruce Willis by referring to him as 'Ashton Kutcher's dad'. This year, perhaps he will turn his tongue to Kutcher himself, following the revelations last year that Ashton had cheated on his wife (the actress Demi Moore). Kate Winslet (nominated for Best Performance By An Actress in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical) has a history of embarrassing herself at awards ceremony. She was criticised for 'gushing' at the 2011 Emmys and at the 2009 Golden Globes she made a notably long and emotional acceptance speech) so Ricky may have a few words to say about her past behaviour. Some of the awards nominees have been steeling themselves in preparation for a Gervais assault, with Elton John taking a light-hearted approach to it: "I'll probably get the p*ss taken out of me, but it's fine with me. I'm British. I can take it."
In a world where tabloid scandal and gossip is rife, choosing a personality such as Gervais to present such a high-profile ceremony as the Golden Globes may feel as though no place is sacred and that nobody is safe from the criticism and jibes that celebrities are subjected to. The awards are, after all considered by many to be a precursor to the Oscars and a good indication of what to expect at what must surely be the most prestigious event of them all. It seems unnecessary to taint what would otherwise be an illustrious and elegant event, with cheap gags and offensive behaviour. The Golden Globes, you could argue, are a time to celebrate the world's top actors and actresses for their talent and professional endeavours, not to smear their names with tawdry jokes about their private lives.
Progressive comedy, though, springs partly from controversy and the world's leading comedians need to test the boundaries in order to develop fresh comedy styles and keep the world entertained with new jokes. Some of the world's most revered comedians, such as Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce were as popular as they were loathed, because of their willingness to shock and disarm their audiences. There's a fine line between pushing buttons and espousing irresponsible views. Satire is a subtle art and often gets misconstrued. Comedians don't always walk the tightrope of decency quite as elegantly as their public would like them to but without the hiccups, the world of entertainment would surely be a blander place.
In a recent interview, Gervais summed up his attitude towards his critics by saying "just because you are offended, doesn't mean you are right. And it is comedy." He adds, before chuckling to himself, "I would suggest to anyone in the room: get over yourself. Just laugh." A story from the UK newspaper The Daily Mail, just two days before the event, suggests that the "nervous" TV bosses controlling the Nbc coverage of the Golden Globes have insisted on a seven-second delay, which will allow producers to cut any comments that they feel are too controversial for viewers. Clearly, the event organisers have invited Gervais back to the role because - love him or hate him - he is good for the ratings. And the Hollywood stars in the room have had plenty of time to steel themselves against wit. and to get over the fact that some people seem more interested in the host than the award winners.