Demystying the Celebrity: The Benefits of Humility and a Sense of Humor
Good Lord! Who knew that Ricky Gervais would be generating controversy, when he hosted Sunday night’s Golden Globes, because he basically, you know, TOLD THE TRUTH in the most biting, catty, satirical way that only the Brits know how to deliver. I personally was ROTFLMAO over many of his jokes, they were so bold. I mean, really, you got to give it to anyone who would tell Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie – to their faces no less! – that their movie, The Tourist, sucked.
Or how about introducing Robert Downey, Jr. by referring to his many stints at the Betty Ford Clinic and the Los Angeles jails. Ouch! Just… yowza!
Of course, I’m from a community where we regularly “play the dozens,” and the appropriate response to such cheeky humor is to give as good you get. So, instead of Downey getting all huffy and complaining about the “mean-spirited” nature of the event, he should have had a witty response: “Gee, Ricky. Was that you in the adjoining cell across from me?”
But such a response requires having a dose of humlity and a sense of humor. Something David clearly has for himself and one that, while I used to think was a hindrance to his sense of celebrity, I now see as instrumental to his sense of artistry.
In short, some semblance of self-deprecation and a sense of humor was in order at the Globes. That’s why I prefer comic actors to the serious ones myself. Like during the Oscars when Chris Rock hosted, and Sean Penn got all huffy and “offended” because Chris Rock made fun of Jude Law (a British actor who I personally think would have been laughing his cute little ass off too, were he present at the awards show), Chris had a snarky comeback to Sean Penn’s “serious actor” comments. If Chris Rock had been bold like Ricky Gervais was at the Globes Sunday night, he might have retorted with: “Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to say with all graciousness and humility that Sean Penn is one of the greatest actors of our generation. Giving us such brilliant classics as Shanghai Surprise and Fast Times at Ridgmont High” [insert the best imitation of Sean Penn’s “stoner surfer dude” character].
But Chris Rock, unlike Ricky Gervais, needs to keep working in Hollywood, so I understand the comedian’s restraint.
Only the real comedians at the Globes – Steve Carrell, Tim Allen, and Tom Hanks (who started his career as a comic actor) – matched Ricky’s wit in kind, while the more self-aware actors, like Robert DeNiro, were crying from laughing so hard. The rest of the crowd simply looked … terrified! And all I have to say to that is (in my best Joker imitation): “Why so seeeerious?”
As the EW commenters remind us in response to the Gervais controversy: “Remember, folks, celebrities are not your superiors.”
And this right there is the issue, isn’t it? Except this message needs to be delivered more to the celebrities themselves rather than to us mere mortals, who have witnessed enough of the celerities’ flaws – magnified by TMZ and other tabloids and gossip sites – to know this basic fact. We should all remember that we “worship” at the altar of celebrity, not because we love the actual person (for whom we mostly know nothing about except for the public image offered to us by media and publicists) but because we love the mad, mad talent they present to us (whether it’s The Voice of a David Archuleta or the dance moves of MJ or the mad guitar skills of Jimi Hendrix or Slash, or the deep songwriting skills of a musician who truly moves us or the great comic timing of a comedian, or the great climactic moment of the dramatic actor who told our most intimate stories on the big screen). That’s what we worship! Everything else is surface.
To believe we worship the actual person is to be deluded (as a fan) and self-deluded (as a celebrity).
As I said before, this silly brouahaha over a British satirist holding up the mirror to self-congratulatory celebrities is just … silly. And they sound like they need a dose of David’s humility and sense of humor to balance the craziness of celebrity worship.
But then again, maybe that’s the problem: too many of today’s celebrities innately know that they don’t have the talent to back up the hype when someone smashes the illusions of their false celebrity personas. It’s hard to laugh at yourself when that self has no real foundation of true artistry to fall back on, isn’t it?
All I know is: David, unlike the Bieber, would have found it terribly funny when someone inferred that he may not have been born when the first Toy Story was made. He might even have retorted with: “Actually, I was five years old!”
There are benefits to having a sense of humility and, above all, a sense of humor.