Be that as it may, after the last Golden Globes I took the liberty of making a list of people who DID make me laugh3 during or just after the ceremony; people whom I thought would make funnier and therefore better hosts. But they decided to go with Ricky Gervais again. Good news for Gervais himself and for fans of uncomfortable situations; bad news for the nominees and presenters. As for me, unless I get a new digital TV converter for Christmas, I won't be able to watch it on TV anyway, so it really doesn't matter.
As I have said elsewhere, I have a hard time distinguishing good-natured teasing from mean-spirited mockery, so I'm not a good judge of that particular brand of comedy. But if they really want that kind of vibe for the upcoming Golden Globes, I rather wish that they had gone with Joel McHale as host instead, for the sake of the nominees and presenters as well as for the sake of McHale himself. He has a similar style of snarky, sarcastic humor, and yet I think (without actually having any good reason to think so) that he would know better where to draw the line. He's MUCH better-looking than Gervais, so even if one didn't enjoy his jokes, one could just turn the sound off and enjoy the view. Moreover, the Golden Globes are broadcast on NBC, which seems to be on the verge of cancelling McHale's sitcom, Community, so there would potentially be a lot of material that could be mined from that, thereby creating an atmosphere of caustic snark without insulting the people who are ostensibly there to be honored.
As for Gervais, he said in a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly (in a context unrelated to the Golden Globes) that he prefers insincere niceness to outright rudeness4, so from that (unless, of course, he himself was being insincere) I must assume that he didn't/doesn't intend to be rude as Golden Globes host. But you know, it's one thing to make fun of people for the choices that they make. For example, I didn't/don't think that it was funny to make fun of Robert Downey, Jr. for being a recovering drug addict, but one could argue that he "had it coming" for choosing to ingest and inject various harmful substances into his body for so many years. However, it's another thing entirely to make fun of people for circumstances that they cannot control. The one joke from last year's Golden Globes that I thought was truly beyond the pale (and one of the few that I can remember after the fact) was making fun of Bruce Willis for being a cuckold. It's not as though Willis chose to have his wife leave him for a much younger man. He did, however, choose to make the best of a bad situation, something for which I think he is to be commended rather than ruthlessly mocked. Therefore, a small part of me--the part of me that loves fairness more than justice, the part that believes in sayings like "an eye for an eye"--hopes that this year (or, technically, next year) Gervais will be equally ruthless in mocking the recently separated Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher, because if anyone deserves to be mocked for the choices that they've made, if anyone ever truly "has it coming," those two do.
1In retrospect, the "Stop hurting America" icon was a poor rhetorical choice, especially since Jon Stewart is actually a fan of Ricky Gervais.
2Interestingly, I think the second question is actually answered by the third; I think he continued to tell the joke after the punch line had been given in a futile attempt to try to salvage it. But I could be wrong; maybe that's just part of his schtick.
3Except for Carson Daly, whom I included on the list because of his geniality. When I mentioned the cast of 30 Rock, I was not thinking of Tracy Morgan, who was never very funny to me even before his infamous homophobic rant for which he is now persona non grata in my eyes.
4 The actual words: "People ask, 'What's the difference between English and American humor?' And I say, 'You know what? Not a lot.' [...] There's a myth that goes around in England that Americans don't get irony. Totally ridiculous. [...] The difference is, Americans don't live ironically all day. Brits meet on the street and they do a sarcastic comment straightaway, whereas Americans say, 'Hi, how are you? It's nice to see you.' Some Brits think that's false. I think, 'Well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt.' Because I'd rather someone be nice to me and not mean it than someone be f---ing rude."
Incidentally, I am not the one who censored "fucking"; I assume that was an editorial decision by the magazine.