Opinion Jun 27, 2020 2:30 PM EST

Ricky Gervais is the heretic we need right now

Gervais, from modest middle-class background, is now a millionaire. He is expected to adopt the beliefs of his current class, not hold to his previous ones. He won't.

Ricky Gervais is the heretic we need right now
Sumantra Maitra Nottingham, UK
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Gervais dared to draw a cartoon of the prophets of Liberalism. That makes him an apostate. We need more like him.

Gervais cannot understand why supporting free-speech will make him a rightwinger. As Kyle Smith wrote in the National Review, “on a recent edition of the Daily Beast’s podcast... he declined to back away from any of his anti-woke jokes, his discussion of the n-word at a comics’ roundtable, or his insistence that everybody is fair game for mockery. To hold otherwise would be to grant classes of people special protections — comedy 'privilege.' He won’t do it.”

This was completely predictable and was evident when the drunk, slightly rotund Englishman took a flamethrower to Hollywood at the Golden Globes earlier this year. If the reactions to Ricky Gervais’ monologue at the Golden Globes were of any evidence of days to come, it was almost that the man committed one of the gravest sins in humankind, of being a class-traitor.

For a particular EW writer, Gervais reminded her cruelly of the previous hosting by Amy Poehler, who, personally always reminded me of attending the PR parties during my early journalism career, where one has to politely smile listening to some third-rate advertisement executive’s carefully practiced mom jokes.

For another author, the fact Ricky Gervais made fun of celebrities, made him imitate the right wing, as celebrities are taking time out of their privileged existence to enlighten the peasants of the pressing issues worth talking about, like eating more plant-based protein. Whatever are we going to do without the Grand Poobahs of Hollywood.

A section of the liberal media was equally distraught. For Lorraine Ali in the Los Angeles Times, “at the Beverly Hilton, where the three-hour-plus ceremony took place, the mood was already sober thanks to impeachment, the threat of war with Iran and devastating bush fires in Australia. The last thing anyone needed was for the smirking master of ceremonies to reprimand them for having hope, or taunt the room for trying to use their influence to change things for the better.”

Similar sentiments were abound The Independent, and The Guardian. How dare Ricky Gervais cheapen political activism, “…on the stage that birthed the #MeToo movement”? I kid you not, that was an actual sentence which I just quoted.

The overwhelming reaction was one of trauma from a sudden loss of “hope” and “faith”. It was as if one took a bucket of urine and dropped it on some meditating Yoginis on a weekend retreat. Gervais dared to draw a cartoon of the prophets of Liberalism, in an industry, which perhaps coincidentally shares the same opening alphabet with the word “Hypocrisy”. He ridiculed the inherent contradictions of liberal morality and proselytization. Those he critiqued, who balked at his portrayal, are the same people who prefer Chinese slave-labour goods and markets while boycotting Georgia for abortion laws. These are the same group of people who demand respect for their bravery while simultaneously claiming to be a weak victim.

These are the same glorified pornographers who have been pals with some of the vilest scums on this planet like Jefferey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein. They are the same folks who promote pedophilia as a condition and not a crime, and who wax lyrical about Me Too and women’s modesty and men’s chivalry while simultaneously promoting zero personal responsibility. These are the same halfwits who command more influence on social matters than actual historians, classicists, and professors.

They are the same ones who influence policy on whether commoners should eat fewer steaks for dinner, while flying to tropical hot-spots as a pilgrimage, to listen to with 13-year-old saints about climate change. The theological undercurrents are barely hidden. The acts of overt demonstrable piety, circular confession and therapy sessions, were supposed to be commended, not mocked. How could Gervais do that? Can no one simply sell “hope” anymore?

But beneath the heartbreaks and rage, lies an economic reason as well. The more ideological a group of people are, the more they would hate any dissent, and every dissenting opinion is considered traitorous. Bridget Phetasy in an article for the Quillette, hinted at this causality. Gervais, even though from modest middle-class Londoner background, is now a millionaire. He is expected to reflect his upward class mobility with adopting the beliefs, etiquettes and causes of his current class, not holding on to his previous ones. He won't.

In an earlier era, a commoner married to a lord, would be taught the manor house manners till they are presentable. Gervais however, channelled his inner Oscar Wilde, and the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in the mirror was ferocious.

The same reasons Gervais is now a public enemy for the liberal-left, even though he is an atheist who votes for the Labour party, is the same reason Tucker Carlson is hated, or the reason Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are despised. Tucker Carlson is supposed to be instinctively free-trade and open borders, given his socio-economic background. A New York Billionaire with three wives, is not supposed to be defending Evangelicals from ever-encroaching sexual liberation. A classics scholar from Oxford shouldn’t oppose a European superstate in favour of a narrow national interest. And yet, they all went against what their supposed class interests are. And thereby, for good or for bad, broke the consensus.

Anyone who goes against scripture is naturally deemed a heretic. Gervais has also joined the ranks. Good.

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