Over the last few days, there has been a lot of hubub (technical term) about Ricky Gervais and his hosting of the 2011 Golden Globes. Among the responses I’ve heard:

“Career ending performance”

“Went overboard”


Now, I love me my Ricky Gervais. I just do. But when I heard that he was being asked to host the Golden Globes for the second year in a row, I was kind of surprised. I still remember him hosting the 2010 Golden Globes, and even I shifted uncomfortably in my seat on a few jokes he told. They must have known that he wasn’t going to go easy on people this time around. Still, I wanted to see what the ruckus was about, so I found his opening monologue on YouTube and watched it. All 5 minutes of it.

It was a big dose of truth more than anything else.

The problem is that sometimes people don’t like hearing the truth, especially when it is passed on in a comedic way with the intent of making people laugh. But let’s face it – Charlie Sheen did completely trash a hotel, on a Monday, with a prostitute locked in his room. Hugh Heffner is marrying a 24-year-old and he is 84. The women in Sex and the City are no longer 17. These are just plain facts of life.

The truth online

The Ricky Gervais controversy is interesting when viewed through a Social Media prism. In the online world, it seems easy to call a duck a duck. After all, unlike Gervais, we do not have to see looks of horror as we act out. We do not have to hear the gasps, nor do we often have to see criticisms of our behavior wherein our careers are consigned to the nether-regions. We can tout our desire to tell the truth and to call a duck a duck, but we don’t have to bear the ramifications of that kind of shocking truth-telling.

Humans are squishy, even if you don’t see them

Do you think Ricky Gervais would be under so much fire if he had done his act in a small night club? If it was played on HBO? If it was somehow worked into a television show? I highly doubt it. In fact, I’d wager that a lot of people would be proclaiming him “bitterly hilarious” or something like that. So what is it that people find so bothersome about Gervais’ Golden Globes performance? You want to know the truth?

I think people are envious of his bravery. And I think they’re a little freaked out.

After all, who doesn’t make fun of Hollywood stars and Hollywood movies? We just don’t do it to anyone’s face. In their faces.

It’s something to think about before you hit “publish” on a post that is aiming to spill some “truth” about a person. Would you walk up to him and say it to his face? Would you say what you’re about to send out into the world to that person’s mom or dad, or their spouse, or their kids? If you wouldn’t, should you send out those nuggets of truth while crossing your fingers that nobody involved actually reads them? What if someone you’re targeting does read your post? You won’t have to see their reaction. You won’t have to hear it. In this way, blogs and online communication platforms can be compared to atomic bombs. You push the button and you move on with your day. The results are not on your radar. But they are there.

Is that a better way to go?

What do you think?

What’s your take on this whole Ricky Gervais thing? What’s your take on the online truth-teller? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Image by Gölin Doorneweerd – Swijnenburg. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/babykrul