Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
Bob Dylan once said that as a kid growing up in Minnesota, it was too cold to rebel. Ricky Gervais was in temperate Hollywood when he hosted last weekend’s Golden Globe Awards, but some of that iconoclasm-dampening Northeastern chill seemed to have followed him across the country. Everyone is saying that Gervais pulled his punches, and that’s certainly one way to put it. Last year he turned the likes of Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie into unwitting participants in a subversive piece of nationally televised performance art. This year Gervais spent more time ragging on NBC (only Letterman and 30 Rock avoid looking desperate when pulling the mock-your-own-network gag) than he did shit-talking famous people to their faces, which is what we all show up to see. (Even the famous people!)
Feeling bolstered by the Giants’ win earlier that afternoon, I picked up off my floor a version of the same outfit I’ve been wearing all year thus far — leggings and like three layers of shirt plus hat coat and gloves — and jumped in a cab to Brooklyn where my friend was throwing a Golden Globes viewing party. Tucked away under blankets on her couch, a view of the Williamsburg bridge to my left, an extra dirty martini on the coffee table to my right, and red carpet awesomeness on the TV screen, the evening began as it should, with lots of bitching about how terrible (Jessica Biel) and awesome (Reese Witherspoon) everyone looked.
With Gervais curiously hobbled, the evening’s entertainment became a team effort. When our host fell flat, celebrities rallied with penis jokes: Clooney thanked newly minted stud Michael Fassbender for relieving him of full frontal nude duties and likened the young actor’s cock to a golf club, presenters Tina Fey and Jane Lynch high-fived after delivering their own phallic one liner, and show-stealer Seth Rogen clearly embarrassed/flattered the hell out of co-presenter Kate Beckinsale when he opened their exchange by saying “Hello my name is Seth Rogen and I’m currently trying to conceal a massive erection.” Queen of decorum Meryl Streep even helped rile things up by swearing during her Best Actress acceptance speech. Who needs a subversive host when you have pottymouthed Hollywood royalty?
And then there were the rock stars. I couldn’t have been prouder of our reps Elton John and Madonna. Madonna especially so wants to be taken seriously by Hollywood, but she also can’t resist a good spat. On the red carpet before the show, Elton John was already boasting that his longtime rival had no shot of winning Best Original Song. But when she did (for the track she wrote for her forthcoming film W.E.) he didn’t even try to disguise his horror. Nor Madonna didn’t even try to disguise her glee, rambling on in her increasingly bonkers fake British accent about how disinclined she was to upstage this gem of a film by contributing to the soundtrack but everyone just insisted. Gervais owes both queens of pop a good bottle of champagne.