Sunday's Golden Globe Awards has generated hot debate, but it has nothing to do with The Social Network beating out The King's Speech. The hubbub is focused on the awards show's host, British comedian Ricky Gervais, who took scathing shots at Robert Downey, Jr., Charlie Sheen, closeted Scientologists, and even the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the group behind the Globes. (Watch Gervais' opening monologue) When Gervais didn't appear on screen for nearly an hour, the Twittersphere began speculating that he'd been fired mid-show for his ruthless punchlines. Though Gervais did complete the broadcast, critics are still debating whether his performance was "legendary, a benchmark by which other flameout hosting gigs are measured" or "unrelentingly harsh and uncomfortable." Was Gervais out of line?
Yes, he was cynical and mean-spirited: Gervais' crass wit made for an "awkward and sour" show, says Matt Zoller Seitz at Salon. He took cheap, easy shots at the stars and acted like a "vicious snot and hypocritical bully." Some of the Globes' "wittiest" moments, like Downey's comeback to Gervais' ridicule, showed that "it is, in fact, possible to be sour and sweet at the same time."
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No, he was honest and exciting: Gervais' "go-for-broke performance" was funny, exhilarating, and, especially, "daring," says Caryn James at IndieWire. He rightly targeted Hollywood's inanity and self-importance and prompted sharp replies, like Robert Downey, Jr.'s, that made the show "jaw-dropping fun to watch." Sure Gervais "crossed lines of taste and civility at times," but "risky comedy always does."
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And he kept the show from being a total bore: "How much more boring would the Golden Globes have been without Gervais?" asks Willa Paskin in New York. Mean as he was at times, most of his targets were deserving. "On a night when almost everyone who was supposed to win did, we'd have fallen asleep without him."
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Besides, the Golden Globes are a joke: Gervais "was even more blasphemous towards... the tarnished reputation of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) than he was last year," says Nikki Finke at Deadline. "I love it." From the fact that the unfunny bomb The Tourist was nominated in the "musical or comedy" categories to a recently filed lawsuit that alleges that HFPA members took bribes, "the Golden Globes and the organization behind it have zero integrity." The only reason to watch the show is the "unscripted weirdness."
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