When the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. first tabbed Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as hosts for its Golden Globes ceremony three years ago, HFPA member H.J. Park came out and stated the obvious.
“It’s a coup against the academy, who hates us,” Park told The Times.
This year’s return to Ricky Gervais can’t be seen as a similar stroke of genius, seeing as Gervais has already hosted the show from 2010 to 2012, preceding the Fey-Poehler three-year reign.
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But his hiring can still be viewed as a small poke in the eye (or, since this is Gervais, call it a middle-finger salute) to the film academy, which last week announced its choice of Chris Rock to host the 2016 Oscars.
The message: You think Rock is edgy? We’ll see your edgy and raise you unsettling, edge-of-your-seat, self-satisfied outrageousness.
Notably, both the academy and the HFPA have now hired hosts who will undoubtedly take shots at the organizations that invited them during their respective ceremonies.
Hosting the Oscars in 2005, Rock noted how remarkable it was to have four black actors honored with Oscar nominations that year. (Jamie Foxx was nominated twice that year.) “It’s kind of like the Def Oscar jam tonight,” he joked, less than a minute into his opening monologue.
You can bet that the academy will be a repeated target if, like last year (#OscarsSoWhite), it comes up short or completely empty (again) when it comes to the diversity of its nominees.
But Rock’s ridicule was mild to the way Gervais repeatedly roasted the HFPA -- and Hollywood -- over the years. After the inert romantic-thriller “The Tourist” inexplicably won three nominations in 2010, Gervais joked, “I’d like to quash this ridiculous rumor going around that the only reason ‘The Tourist’ was nominated was so the HFPA could hang out with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. That is rubbish. That is not the only reason. They also accepted bribes.”
The British comedian also took aim at the group’s then-president, Philip Berk, and the advanced age of its membership, quipping: “I had to help the HFPA president off the toilet and pop his teeth back in.”
Signing off in 2012, he again targeted the HFPA’s not-so-illustrious history of accepting studio largesse: “For any of you who don’t know, the Golden Globes are just like the Oscars, but without all that esteem. The Golden Globes are to the Oscars what Kim Kardashian is to Kate Middleton. A bit louder, a bit trashier, a bit drunker, and more easily bought. Allegedly. Nothing’s been proved.”
Gervais also managed to produce several on- and off-stage rebukes over the years from the likes of Depp, Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.
“We can recall back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian,” Hanks said after a 2011 potshot. “Neither of which he is now,” Allen added.
Though his weight has fluctuated through the years, his comfort with controversy has not. Gervais isn’t afraid to be unlikable with his act. And that makes the 2016 Golden Globes worth watching, which is the reason the HFPA is willing to bend for him once again.