Linda Holmes on Pop Culture Happy Hour on David Bowie and Ricky Gervais Host of the Golden Globes
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What has been so difficult for me about watching the Golden Globes in the Ricky Gervais years is... the positioning of that as what being a courageous artist means... I'm talking about making jokes about trans people. I'm talking about going in there and kind of positioning yourself as "I don't care who I offend."
And I think it was so striking to me to see somebody like David Bowie - I mean, imagine being David Bowie. It's one thing to be David Bowie now, but imagine being David Bowie when nobody knew who David Bowie was, and that was kind of what he was going to do. That - is - really - brave as an artist.
And it bothers me sometimes when in the era of kind of talking about taking offense or not taking offense - I think sometimes courage is confused with no filter which is wrong because fear is not the only filter that exists in peoples' lives, right? Fear is not the only reason that you wouldn't get up and start your monologue at the Golden Globes with (basically) "I've changed... not as much as Bruce Jenner!" Which literally is kind of how he started. That is not a joke that most people wouldn't start their monologue with because of fear. That's a joke that a lot of people wouldn't start their monologue with because it's cheap.
And because the way that we're talking about how David Bowie makes people feel in the world, right? What it's like to see somebody like that represented - you have to remember - there's also trans kids who are watching the Golden Globes who are seeing, "This is what the world thinks of me and who I am." And so as unfair as it is [to compare David Bowie to anyone], it did strike me as really funny timing because they've tried so hard to position him as fearless. Because it was followed so closely by this demonstration of (to me) what actual fearlessness in art... To me it is a real moment of clarity for me about *what do you want your contribution to be to the world to be?*
And it's fine to be a comedian and say "I don't need to be brave like David Bowie, I'm just trying to be funny, but to appropriate to yourself the idea that "I'm courageous. I'm speaking truth to power." To have this enormous legacy laid down like a block in front of this effort to be like "Oo, the Golden Globes are daring." was really striking to me, I have to say.