Who influences you?

If you’ve been around a phone or computer screen this past week, chances are you’ve seen something referencing British Comedian/Actor/Producer Ricky Gervais causing a bit of an uproar while hosting this year’s Golden Globe Awards.

Gervais stunned the audience of Hollywood elites by basically telling them what some Americans have yearned to tell them over the past few years: read your script, play your guitar, and keep your personal beliefs to yourself.

“You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything,” Gervais said. “You know nothing about the real world. Most of you’ve spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”

Whether you agree with him or not, Gervais’ comments last Sunday night struck a cord with a large portion of the American public, so much so, political affiliations have been set aside in support of Gervais.

The anti-Trump, self described atheist has even come under fire for “accepting” new followers who are the “opposite” of him, meaning conservatives. Maybe it’s ignorance of Gervais’ views and political beliefs on the part of his “new found fans” that have them supporting him. Or maybe, it’s the fact that we as Americans are tired of being told how to think by people who don’t live in the real world, and no matter who the proverbial megaphone, people were always going to support them.

Granted, Gervais’ delivery could be interpreted as harsh, most of his jokes were at the expense of Hollywood and its celebrities, but to feel sorry for someone who has the capability of wiping away their tears with $100 bills, in my opinion, misses the mark.

Outside of the obvious “Hollywood quit telling me how to live my life” lesson to be learned from Gervais’ “attack” on Hollywood, I think there is even more we can take away from it. First off, there was the aforementioned common ground found between people on both sides of the political aisle who supported Gervais’ actions. I think it’s a nice reminder that though we may disagree on things, surely there are things we can agree on. Even if it takes a British comedian calling out celebrities to find it.

The other thing I think we can take away from last Sunday’s Golden Globes is that ultimately it falls on us as consumers on who we let influence our beliefs. To be honest, I’ve never really cared what any actor, musician, or comedian has thought about politics, religion, or any other big topic issue. And why should I? The truths hidden behind the punchlines of Gervais’ jokes were the perfect reasons why one shouldn’t.

Maybe it’s the society we’ve built for ourselves, holding celebrities in such high regard. However it seems more and more celebrities are emerging daily thanks to platforms like YouTube, Tik Tok, and Twitter. Go ask you child or grandchild who their favorite YouTuber is. Oh, I’m sorry, let me correct myself; go ask your child or grandchild who their favorite social media influencer is, because that’s what they’re calling themselves now. Social media influencer. Their whole job is to influence their audience into buying this, downloading that, or believing this about somebody to create drama and drive views.

Basically what I’m saying is, it’s a balancing act we should all aim for. Be open to others with differing opinions, because they may surprise you, i.e. Ricky Gervais. Having said that, we should be mindful of who we let influence what we believe. Opinions aren’t facts, even coming from a celebrity. And now, thanks to the internet, and its ability to spit out a new “celebrity” every 15 minutes, there are plenty of opinions going around. Heck, even everything I’ve written has been filtered through my opinions: which words to use, what points I want to make, etc. You may not agree with any of it, or any column I write, and that’s okay. At least you took the time to consider someone else’s views, and honestly, that’s all anybody can really ask of you.

Jarrod Mills is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be contacted at jmills@thetimestribune.com.

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