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Christian Whiton: Golden Globes host Gervais didn't just scold celebs he gave good business advice, too

Christian Whiton

Ricky Gervais lambasted Hollywood Sunday at the Golden Globe awards, laying bare the entertainment industry’s sanctimony and hypocrisy in his introductory monologue as host.

The question is whether his performance was a flash in the pan or a teachable moment for Hollywood.

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No person, company, or group was safe from Gervais’s withering and hysterical act—the way it ought to be with comedy and satire, those most important forms of art in democracy.

Gervais poked fun at the celebrity college admission scandal (“I came here in a limo tonight and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman”), sexual assault by media execs who profess to be great advocates of women (“They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow; he’s coming for ya.”), and our elite culture’s obsession with skin color (“We were going to do an In-Memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people who died, it wasn’t diverse enough; no, it was mostly white people and I thought, nah, not on my watch”).

While the decline in moviegoing by the public is often attributed to technology and consumer preference, Gervais got to the heart of the matter: “Seriously, most films are awful. Lazy. Remakes, sequels.”

Gervais ended his monologue with an admonition to the assembled actors: “So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. 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.”

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This point is vital, because most of the preening celebrities who lecture America about morality and public policy are actually remarkably uneducated and plainly stupid when they aren’t reading a script written by someone smarter.

In the old days of Hollywood, when a small number of studios dominated film production and distribution, studios carefully controlled and censored the utterances of their mostly left-leaning star talent. The breakdown of this system, politicization of self-congratulatory award shows like the Golden Globes and Oscars, and later emergence of social media have made clear to the American public how much it is hated by those who get paid to entertain it.

This is bad for business and bad for America.

True to form, several of the award winners didn’t take Gervais’s point. Actress Michelle Williams droned on about abortion. Another swooned about discredited former President Barack Obama. Two recipients gave lectures about climate change, which has become the coastal elite’s religion.

Oh well, it’s easier to do politics than creative entertainment.

But perhaps the biggest of all of Gervais’s apostacies was his take on the money in Hollywood: “Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show, a superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China. Well, you say you’re woke but the companies you work for in China — unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service you’d call your agent, wouldn’t you?”

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This is unusual, because while Gervais isn’t the first celebrity to poke fun at his colleagues in an award show, he is one of few to criticize the money side of the business, especially the Chinese paymasters that Hollywood and companies like Apple are trying so hard to toady for a few dollars more.

Indeed, China effectively censors Hollywood by limiting the import of major U.S. films to just a few dozen per year. Studios compete for these few slots. That’s the reason the flag of Taiwan was removed from Tom Cruise’s jacket in the upcoming reboot of “Top Gun” and there won’t be any major films about the pro-freedom heroism we’re seeing on the streets of Hong Kong.

Notably, while some of the audience of celebrities was stunned by Gervais, most were laughing quite heartily. Is it possible that even the left-leaning actors assembled are getting tired of sanctimonious moral preening by their colleagues, and censorship in the name of political correctness and courting China’s communist government?

Furthermore, might some executives and actors want to get on with the business of making movies and making money, rather than pretending they are part of some grand moral enterprise?

A recent Netflix special featuring comedian Dave Chappelle ridiculing politically correct “cancel culture” was a runaway success. Irreverent “South Park” is in its 23rd season, is one of Comedy Central’s top properties, and is signed up through 2022. War movies that merely refrain from being openly anti-American are invariably successful.

There may actually be more money in creative entertainment than political preening and moral hypocrisy.

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