Monday, January 17, 2011
Not So Golden Globes
A week after the Tucson shooting and the day before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s day, Ricky Gervais truly tarnishes the Golden Globes.
Ricky Gervais was never known for his respectability. Yet, at a time when the world needs civility, compassion, and tolerance, the comedian who hosted the 2011 Golden Globes offered absolutely none of it this January.
The tragic shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson challenged us to tone down our rhetoric, regardless if it is to blame for the gunfire. It woke us up - and reminded us that our snide comments, bitter speeches, pointed fingers, hateful politics, and belligerent language have become far too commonplace. It has caused us to ask: What if our seemingly innocent but subconsciously angry words actually come to pass?
The most important thing that has come from this tragedy is an international conversation about civility, compassion, and tolerance in our everyday speech.
Perhaps that means no more gun targets over congressional representatives. Or it might mean no more posters comparing presidents to Hitler or hurtful language about pedophilia when talking about clergy. Perhaps... we might start to live up to our principles.
It seems, however, at the Golden Globes this year, Ricky Gervais didn't get the memo (and neither did Cecil B. DeMille honoree Robert DeNiro).
What seemed to pass for humor was a bitter roast for anyone in the room, from the rich and famous actors to the Hispanic wait staff at the hotel. The language used by Gervais, DeNiro, and some others was effective at cutting people down at their most vulnerable, hoping that it might get a laugh from the audience. Thank God much of it fell flat.
Each year this month, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for standing up to such anger and hostility through the powerful act of nonviolence.
"Hatred paralyzes life, love releases it," Dr. King once said. "Hatred confuses life, love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life, while love illuminates it." Sadly, in 1968, this message caused Martin Luther King's assassination. But acts like the shooting in Tuscon and the language used by Gervais and DeNiro show we still have much to learn.
Don't get me wrong. I am under no illusion that the Golden Globes are some sort of national prayer event. However, they are meant to be a celebration of art and the creativity of filmmakers - not an opportunity to get a laugh at the expense of others' weaknesses.
It was very appropriate, for instance, for Glee supporting actor winner Chris Colfer to dedicate his Golden Globe to the young people "who are constantly told 'no' by people and environments and bullies at school, that they can't be who they are..." He used his few seconds in front of the microphone to lift people up, not bring them down.
This is what is called for in this age of intolerance and hatred. This is what is called for by prophetic voices like Dr. Martin Luther King. And this is what is called for Jesus, who begs his followers, "judge not, lest you be judged" (Mt. 7:1) and "love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34)
So let us dedicate ourselves to the continued task to bring more compassion and love to our conversations and rid our world of gossip, rudeness, ugly politics, and intolerance. Tucson was yet another wake-up call, one Dr. King told us about decades ago, and one that Christ always points us towards each and every day. Are we ready to wake up?