Ricky Gervais Was Only as Mean as We'd Hoped He'd Be

It was such a refreshing treat watching Ricky Gervais go knives out during last year's Golden Globes, attacking the likes of Mel Gibson, Angelina Jolie and Sir Paul McCartney. Honestly, he didn’t say anything any worse then what is said by millions of viewers on their couches, but Ricky was in the room, looking right at his victims. It was a rush.

So when it was announced that Gervais would be coming back for more, the conversation naturally turned to, “Can he top last year’s performance?” The press (guilty) all but begged him to dial it up to 11, to once again skewer Hollywood’s sacred cows, and he essentially vowed to do it.

Sure enough, Gervais wasted no time in going after Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and the cast and crew of “The Tourist,” all in the first 10 minutes.

Now, a day after he did exactly as asked, people are wondering if maybe he went too far.

"He definitely crossed the line," HFPA President Phillip Berk told The Hollywood Reporter. "And some of the things were totally unacceptable. But that's Ricky."

Assuming that he did cross the line, who’s to blame, exactly? One year we revel in the meanness, the next year people are saying he was too mean. Whoever hosts the show in 2012 will no doubt turn down the vitriol, and we can continue fine-tuning things until we get just the right amount of acidity.  For now, however, the HFPA is wasting no time in distancing themselves from Gervais.

"Ricky will not be invited back to host the show next year, for sure," a member of the HFPA told PopEater. "For sure any movie he makes he can forget about getting nominated. He humiliated the organization last night and went too far with several celebrities whose representatives have already called to complain."

It's like they threw a wolf in a chicken coop, returned three hours later to find a pile of eviscerated birds and are now furiously shouting, "Bad doggie!"

And let’s not forget, too, that Gervais was hardly the only one shaping the tone of the evening. Robert Downey Jr. -- just moments after noting the mean-spiritedness of the proceedings -- expressed an interest in bedding all five of the Best Actress in a Comedy nominees. Robert De Niro made a vaguely racist joke about members of the HFPA and many of the waiters working the room getting deported. Even sweet, lovely, Harvard-educated Natalie Portman assured us that her fiancée “totally wants to sleep with (her)!”

Predictably, it’s been suggested that maybe the horrible tragedy assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, which left six innocent people dead and wounded another 13, was still too fresh in everyone’s minds for such talk. But did anyone who was part of the show even mention Giffords or the other victims? Were there ribbons being worn that we somehow missed?

Attempts to equate Gervais’ snark with Stephen Colbert’s performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner don’t quite hold up. As much as you may have loved Colbert’s attacks on President Bush, the fact is Colbert totally sandbagged the man. Some gentle ribbing was to be expected, it’s the whole purpose of the evening as well as Colebrt’s stock and trade. But no one could’ve guessed at how viciously Colbert would go for the jugular. Gervais, on the other hand, was simply doing what was expected of him.

Though he was mostly funny last night, Gervais just didn’t seem comfortable. Maybe he knew he was going too far, maybe his heart wasn’t in it. Maybe he knew his shtick wouldn’t work as well this year because it was expected.

In any event, he should still be among the first people to call when you need an MC.

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