Ricky Gervais was right to criticise Hollywood A-listers’ narcissistic lectures

On Monday night comedian Ricky Gervais – divisive at the best of times – chastised a room packed to the brim of Hollywood’s mega elite. Hosting the Golden Globes award ceremony, he told them: “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.”

Gervais’s attack – levied at the growing trend for celebrities to embark on political lectures at award ceremonies – was met with a sea of po-faced and thin-lipped Hollywood stars, aghast that anyone might question their right to hold forth on any subject at any time.

Moments after Gervais made his views clear to the lecturers with no lecturing credentials to speak of, his point was proven. Actress Michelle Williams took to the stage – as if she spoke on behalf of all American women – to talk about abortion. Patricia Arquette approached the podium to address the state of the nation: “In the history books we will see a country on the brink of war. The United States of America, a president tweeting out a threat of 52 bombs including cultural sites. Young people risking their lives travelling across the world. People not knowing if bombs are going to drop on their kids’ heads and the continent of Australia on fire. . .”

It is easy to tolerate these kinds of political interventions from celebrities when we agree with what they are saying. The Hollywood elite are usually – if superficially – liberal, broadly centrist, moderate and pro-environment. But the problem isn’t the message, rather that the messengers haven’t earned the authority to tell the public what they should care about or who they should vote for.

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