Martin Luther King & Barack Obama: The Dream of History

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History will record that on the 21st of January, 2013, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Barack Obama was inaugurated for the second time as President of the United States. History will record that the Bible upon which the President solemnly swore his oath of office, was formerly the property of Martin Luther King Jr. History will record this day, as it did the 2008 inauguration, as a momentous day of light in the darkly woven tapestry of black America.

Yet the victors are arbiters of history are they not? So famously thought Winston Churchill, so too thought George Orwell in his classic novel 1984:

“He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

The victories of Barack Obama constitute a great deal to the forty million or so strong black population and the importance of a first black president is indisputable. Yet despite this palatable sense of victory, they are not the victors. They will not write this epoque of history.

April 1961 is now considered a historic moment too according to some of today’s news publications. It was the month in which Robert Kennedy predicted that within 30-40 years America would have a “negro President”. Robert Kennedy’s own historical image is, like his brother’s, angelic in its remembrance. There is no room to recall his collusion with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s delusional crusade against “communism” in America. It is too dreadful also to consider his co-operation in the FBI witch-hunt of a one Dr. Martin Luther King. No, history has recorded that Robert Kennedy was a civil rights crusader, and his untimely death robbed America of another hero.

Obama’s inauguration speech itself was of course rife with the obligatory references to the nation’s founding fathers. History has recorded these men as deities, infallible and effervescent in their inspiration of patriotism. Their status as protectorates of the property of slave owners, land speculators, merchants, and bondholders vanished. Their successors’ genocide of Native Americans and expansionary wars with Mexico not worth the ink of most contemporary books nor the breath of public figures and intellectuals.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic role is perhaps the greatest exemplar of the veil of obfuscation that those in power place over history. For you see Dr. King was not just a civil rights activist, he was a fervent critic of U.S. Foreign policy and a socialist, acutely aware of race’s role in the class structure. He vehemently opposed the US invasion of Vietnam and described the US government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” and called on the American people to “question the capitalist economy”.

The political establishment spent decades adamantly opposing the embrace of King as a figure of historical note precisely for these views. Despite being proposed the year of his death in 1968, Martin Luther King Day only came into being a full 15 years later in 1983, reluctantly signed off on by President Ronald Reagan, despite his best attempts to infer the tag of communist on the late Dr. King. The idea of dedicating a national holiday to Dr. King was at the behest of the unions, who simply told the government that regardless of its approval to officialdom, they wouldn’t be working that day.

There was little choice but to accept Dr.King as a historical figure of importance but revisionism by omission has been central to this acceptance. There is minute appreciation of his staunch anti-imperial foreign policy and even less still of his enormous involvement in the working class union movements of the 50’s and 60’s. In a morbid irony the only frequent citing of this part of his life is the March 29th 1968 meeting he attended in support of striking black sanitary public work employees in Memphis, Tennessee, just a few days before he was shot dead.

And what of President Obama? What will be his historical narrative? Will our children learn of his drone program? His apathy towards the Palestinian cause perhaps? His ambivalence to nuclear weapons and impending environmental catastrophes? His abandonment of the poor and working poor? One must presume it doubtful at best that victors will care for these inclusions.

 

Remebering Both 9/11’s

Few dates command as much reverence as the 11th of September. It is also probably the only occurrence of an abbreviation, 9/11, not appearing gaudy or flippant, if anything adding an even more visceral quality to the sentiments evoked in American people. The sordid and cowardly terrorist attacks claimed some 3000 innocent victims. The twin towers fell to the floor. A city and indeed a nation’s sense of security went with it.

The date is quite rightly commemorated profusely every year in the US with blanket media coverage, local and national commemoration services gesturing genuine tributes to the deceased and their eternally bereaved loved ones. In Europe a more subdued condolence is observed like that of a distant relative paying their respects at a funeral. September 11th resonates tremendously with the people of South America too, that is September 11th 1973.

President Salvador Allende of Chile was democratically elected to power in 1970 on a platform of implementing socialist reform in a country which had long been crippled by the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few big Western companies and a tiny sector of the population. He set about nationalizing resources previously held by US firms and vastly increased government spending on health, education and housing. His policies were not welcomed by all but by March 1973 he had increased his coalition’s government vote by 7%.

Just some 6 months later, following a concerted and intense effort by the US government to undermine and overthrow his government, President Allende lay dead in his presidential palace in the capital city of Santiago. Bombarded by persistent air raids and encroaching military ground forces, Allende shot himself while his palace burned in flames. His final broadcasts to the Chilean people spoke of his love for his country, his belief in its future and his refusal to leave.

Documents declassified during the Clinton administration show the staggering lengths the United States, principally through the CIA, went to in order to dispose of Allende. They attempted to pay off the Chilean congress in an effort to block his appointment. After this failed, they changed tack and concentrated on a military solution. The US signaled to senior Generals within the Chilean army that they would face massive cuts in military aid if Allende remained in power. Right wing, US funded news outlets propagated anti-Allende narratives while financial support was also provided for anti-Allende political opponents and for organized strikes and unrest to destabilize his government.

The goal, in the words of then President Richard Nixon was to eliminate the “virus” that might encourage all those “foreigners [who] are out to screw us” to take over their own resources and in other ways to pursue an intolerable policy of independent development. The National Security Council said that if the US could not control Latin America, often referred to then as the “United States’ backyard” it could not expect “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world”.

The US achieved its “successful order” in Chile by installing General Augusto Pinochet who presided over a seventeen year military dictatorship that killed over 3000 people, incarcerated at least 80,000 citizens without trials and subjected an estimated 30,000 to torture. Another 200,000 Chileans were forced into exile.

Henry Kissinger described September 11th 1973 as “nothing of very great consequence” and it appears the United States and its population still remains of this view. It is however impossible to completely reflect upon and comprehend the tragic events of September 11th 2001 without consideration of the events of that same day 28 years earlier. Particularly when just two weeks after 9/11 of 1973, the U.S. manufacturing company ITT Corporation which owned and funded the right wing anti-Allende news outlets, was bombed, in New York City.

Happy Saint Patricia’s Day!

This past weekend I encountered the strange phenomenon of Saint Patty’s day in Boston. It struck me as a bit odd that America would choose to celebrate Saint Patricia of Naples, or “Patty” to her friends in the convent, on the exact same day that the rest of the world chooses to celebrate Saint Patrick and Paddy’s day. Even more curious still was that the rituals for both saintly days were identical, namely drinking excessive amounts of alcohol and sporting a lot of green attire. Of course I later learned that Paddy had somehow been translated to Patty as it crossed the pond. Just like bin became trashcan, footpath became sidewalk, and the basic human right of access to healthcare became communism.

I must admit I had been awaiting my national day of intoxication (as if we need a designated day for that) with much anticipation. No not for some flag waving jingoism or any tangible affinity to a Welsh saint that purportedly rid Ireland of snakes but for the real reason I came to America, to trick women into finding me attractive.

As I departed my misty homeland of leprechauns, men with pigs under their arms and unemployed real estate agents, my friends, in between fits of hysterical depression about me leaving, all chorused in unison “Greg you’re accent will work wonders for you over there”. Despite the thinly veiled insult that in order to procure myself a member of the fairer sex, it would be necessary for me to move continent and even then all I would have to offer a woman in America was a slightly different tone of voice, I absorbed their enthusiasm. I had a pep in my step that may well have presented itself in the form of what Americans might call “swag” though I cannot be sure as I still have absolutely no idea what that word means.

It started off brightly. I found myself wearing a lot of green, as if the very color was somehow authentification of my nationality in itself. I also attempted where possible my best Colin Farrell impersonation, much like he has attempted his best impersonation of an actor for his entire career.

Yet the days and weeks went by and my statistics were what I imagine Tim Tebow’s would resemble if he suddenly renounced his faith and became an atheist. Even my fabled accent was of scant use. “You’re accent doesn’t sound that Irish” one girl retorted. I then proceeded to lecture her as to why this was actually America’s fault, primarily due to the subtle, cultural imperialism that America has embarked upon since the 20th century. The television shows, the films, every one of them beaming into our homes, homogenizing our wistful brogue with glib superlatives like “awesome” and your intermittent and superfluous insertion of the word “like” at random points throughout sentences. Strangely enough she appeared indifferent to my superb cultural analysis and did that timeless playing hard to get move of ignoring my very presence. Twenty to forty minutes later I was satisfied that she was not actually playing hard to get and I departed. A man has his pride.

Ah but Patty/Paddy’s day would be different. This was a day specifically dedicated to the world’s fondness for Irish people, or at the very least, their fondness for our questionable attitudes to alcohol and domestic abuse. Sadly dear readers, I learned that trying to market yourself on the basis of Irishness on Paddy’s day in Boston is a bit like basing your entire pick up strategy on being a faithful Christian during Christmas time. Everyone else is claiming the same thing, even if in reality they’re not.

Incidentally, I’m still not quite sure what Saint Patricia of Naples is the patron saint of though I’ve got a sneaking suspicion it might have something to do with lost causes.

Kony 2012: Welcome to the Internet

Not since the last time a cat did something vaguely amusing on camera or a child slurred under the influence of dental painkillers have my social network feeds been so ubiquitously dominated by one video. The Kony 2012 video has gone viral with nearly 70 million views as I type this and counting and it is being hailed as another great success in the realm of “internet activism”. Yet it is my belief that it is the internet that has truly distorted the entire Kony debate.

The internet has become a beacon of positivity. This is something that perplexes me as I have expressed in previous blogs. It coincides with the misconception that the progress and introduction of new technology is innately good. I do not speak from a Luditian perspective as it is not change that I fear but rather false perceptions of change. Technology is essentially like a hammer, a tool that can be used of course for the creation of good, but also for destruction. A new piece of technology at it’s birth is neutral. The radio for example provided for us a new medium of relaying information, but if that radio is used by a terrorist’s walkie-talkie or a totalitarian regimes propaganda news channel, one can hardly label it as good. When technology actually improves our lives it is because we have chosen to use it as such. The tool is also limited as to what it is capable of doing, its potential both good and evil is not infinite and there are certain innate characteristics that limit its scope and effectiveness whether applied for good or bad purposes.

The internet has facilitated the almost inconceivably rapid rise to prominence that the Kony 2012 campaign and it’s creators the charity Invisible Children have experienced of that there is little doubt. Let me also state that the fact that more and more people are aware of the man and his crimes is undoubtedly a positive achievement. However the whole concept of “raising awareness” has always been a bit of a charitable red herring. People are generally quite amenable to having their awareness raised about a particular issue of injustice but the next step of actually enticing people to proactively participate, be that in the form of financial donations or indeed more participative activism in the cause is the obstacle that most charities struggle with. I believe rather than helping to overcome this obstacle as is commonly accepted , the internet and social networking actually reduces the likelihood of genuine participation in charitable causes.

You might think I’m about to argue that there is a vacancy of thought among social network users when it comes to campaigns like this. That people will just like and share links if they see others doing it without fully considering the issue. Of course an element of that is at play but that cynically discounts the large number of people whom I do actually believe watched it and carried out subsequent further research into the matter. The problem goes much deeper than just this bandwagon effect. By encountering a cause on a social networking site, we are further disenfranchising ourselves from its reality. The internet has become such a powerful force in our lives that we think it implicit in reality but the internet has and never will be true reality. We can share the Kony 2012 video in the same internet window as pornography, buying something on amazon or even watching a dreaded cat video on YouTube. This tabular world is not a reflection of our everyday reality.

Admittedly a charity conducting face to face awareness raising on the streets could never hope to attain the publicity of  Kony 2012 but there is something more tangible, more real about it. For obvious reasons we can never truly gain real empathy for the plight of Ugandans but by projecting the cause on to this alternate reality that is the internet, we are making the cause itself even more distant, even more unreal.

The surreal nature of the internet has not only pervaded the Kony 2012 campaign, but also it’s detractors’ protestations. The internet’s subitaneous nature allows for more selective research. Rather than studying the facts of a situation, you can simply use google to find arguments that back up your initial prejudice. And while I again accept that this selective research is not specific to the net, it is more easily facilitated by the internet’s speed and accessibility of use. As such my more contrarian friends whose cynical dispositions were probably being driven mad by the hype surrounding all things Kony 2012 were busy linking me to information discrediting the cause and its charity. I expected perhaps some first hand accounts from people on the ground in Uganda or a blog from a respected regional correspondent. What I received in fact was a litany of ill-informed, poorly referenced and often plagiarized blog posts, the chief of which was written by a current undergraduate political science student at the University of Nova Scotia. While I do think my blog is excellent readers I would encourage you not to base your political views off of any blog written by a know it all who hasn’t even graduated from University yet, someone like me for example.

The internet, this hammer neither exclusively for creation nor destruction, brings with it the intrinsic value of immediacy. An immediacy that has allowed Kony 2012 to be instantly imbued into the zeitgeist but also for its debate to be distorted and for the entire issue to be propelled into the distant and surreal world of all things www.

Apple and Steve Jobs: False Profits

The death of a public figure in the age of modernity is an intriguing phenomenon. It has become quite a tiresome adage of our times that the deification of celebrities is plugging the vacuum that the decline of religion has left behind but it is nonetheless true. We have replaced the now debunked idea of a higher being with well, more higher beings, investing the same kind of mysticism and open-mouthed gawping in a select few “visionaries” that once was the preserve of prophets, and Gods. We fore-go the fallibility of man in favour of glorious perfection.

I had cause to contemplate this myself last year. Christopher Hitchens, leading champion of Atheism and highly acclaimed journalist sadly passed from this world, to well, nowhere. It is quite a peculiar feeling to harbour a sense of loss for someone you’ve never met. This lack of intimacy allows us to construct idyllic images of these public figures, removing any need for critique and beatifying them beyond reproach.

Hitchens himself was famed for pulling no punches when it came to the iconoclasm of purported saintly figures passed. He attacked everyone from Gandhi, Lady Diana to Mother Theresa, describing the latter as a “thieving Albanian dwarf”. Though perhaps a little blinded by his quarrels with religion, Hitchen’s principle of unwavering honesty and refusal to assimilate to the notion of infallible idols was correct. Indeed it was this very legacy of Hitchens that reminded me not to think of his passing in similarly sycophantic terms. I will miss a man who has inspired me to pursue the same profession, to write, to refuse to accept the dogmas of religion. Yet I will also remember what an arrogant toff he could be, an occasional misogynist and an apologist for right-wing neoliberalism in his final years.

The death of Steve Jobs of Apple fame last year also gripped people across the world. His book sold in the millions and the world mourned the loss of another secular saint. I however, did not. My adoption of Apple products has never been shall we say enthusiastic. Besides the occasional iPod, which has become so omnipresent that it almost seems like a company in of itself, I’ve stayed away from all things Apple. It started off as merely a churlish rejection of popularity, everyone buys Apple, therefore I won’t, how brave of me I know. Yet from fickle beginnings came a much more prominent and pertinent reason to resist the great Apple harvest.

I don’t think the average Apple customer is actually aware that the once futuristic white, now sleek silver products are assembled by hand. We’ve been taught in school and college to accept the paradigm that a machine is always a cheaper form of manufacturing than human hand. A quick visit to the Shenzhen region of China, the hub of technology manufacturing in China will dispel this. Here, workers are assembling your shiny products by hand, with one Apple supplier called Foxconn currently employing nearly 450,000 people in one factory. The city of Shenzhen is a grubby little mark on the faux-white cloth of capitalism, ironically enough, in a supposedly non-capitalist country.

There are first hand accounts of Apple supplier employees working 16-24 hour shifts, particularly during times of a new product launch such as the release of the iPad. A worker from Foxconn died after working a 34 hour shift. The supplier also experienced a spate of suicides from the top of company buildings that forced them to install safety nets surrounding the factory to prevent any further deaths.

Oh but the problem lies with Chinese labour laws, one can’t blame Apple they are only following the law. False. Chinese labour laws are actually not that dissimilar to American ones. The Chinese government stipulates a worker may not work more than 8 hour work days. Apple is aware of this. They acknowledge that labour laws are only being observed about 38 percent of the time. Steve Jobs too would have been acutely aware of how his technological masterpieces were being assembled and the human cost associated with them. Co-workers accounts and recent FBI files released portrayed Job’s to be a cut-throat individual of questionable morality who controlled every decision-making aspect of the technology giant. Yet Jobs always received and still receives adulation and adoration from the public and media alike, in stark contrast to his great rival Bill Gates, often painted as an evil monopolist despite his enormous philanthropic efforts. Job’s autobiography is a tale of a free thinking, Buddhist, drug taking hippy who wanted to change the world with his inventions. He certainly did, but at what cost?

There is this fallacious argument purported amongst right-wing free marketeers that economic development has to be born out of some sort of pain, there has to be sacrifices imposed on some for greater prosperity. Bullshit. Apple is the most profitable company in the history of the world. It is sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars of profits. It does not need to exploit the defenseless few for the good of the privileged many.

I am conscious that Apple is not alone in its misgivings, in fact quite a few of the large electronic manufacturers are similarly disgraceful in their operations. However Apple’s veneer of hipster technology of the people, changing the world for good is unique, and just as uniquely false as the skewed, mirrored reputation of its “great” savant Steve Jobs.

Yet the greatest shame should settle square on our shoulders, the end users, the customers. I wince in revulsion, particularly at the hypocrisy of the left in this instance. Groups like Occupy Wall Street pontificating about workers rights with iPads in hand, oblivious to the distasteful irony at play. On a broader scale the Apple case simply highlights the conceit that is ethical capitalism as we know it. An unnamed Apple executive was quoted in the New York Times as saying

“You can either manufacture in comfortable, worker-friendly factories, or you can reinvent the product every year, and make it better and faster and cheaper, which requires factories that seem harsh by American standards. And right now, customers care more about a new iPhone than working conditions in China.”

Perhaps even more pathetically, customers care more about the myth of a deceased hypocrite.

Spinning the Web

The Arab Spring has brought with it an intriguing and rarely remarked upon development in the West. Of course the welcome rumblings in the Middle East were never really going to propel groups like the Occupy movement  into equivalent revolutionary forces (even if its most ardent proponents like to think it has), but it has had a profound impact on one integral component of modern Western civilization, the internet, or rather our perceptions of it.

The Arab Spring imported a quotidian ideology that the internet was a similarly glorious, infallible tool of social progression and change here, in what is popularly described as “the West”. Doubtless Facebook and Twitter provided a considerable thrust to the revolutions in places like Egypt and Tunisia, but the glorification of all things www. that ensued in Western countries was a half-truth at best.

“But the internet is allowing you to write this blog?!” I hear my ten readers cry. First of all there is no need to raise your voice. Secondly, yes it is and the wide access to information and people that the internet has brought is a welcome enhancement of our everyday lives. But truthfully do we really take advantage of this?

Most folk do not sit around offices and homes in Ireland or the United States, facebooking or tweeting important news or where to meet for a protest, most people instead enjoy posting videos of cats to their walls or tweeting about the latest episode of some god awful “reality” show. YouTube, the video giant so utilized by Arab countries to convey tales of both victories won and heinous atrocities suffered, is a source for us western folk to find even more trending videos about funny cats. Even worse has been the recent and egregious commercialization of the YouTube site which has seen an increase in advertisement and sponsored videos that now litter the once democratized homepage. Indeed a fleeting glance at what friends talk about on Facebook, what issues are trending on Twitter or what videos are most popular on YouTube will dispel the espoused view that the world wide web is being used as a powerful force for change in our own countries too as pure mysticism.

The simple fact of the matter is that most technological and media advances start on a premise of unlimited good and scope for positive change. Society in our modern age then unfortunately sets about inflicting their worst, most visceral qualities on it until its potential is all but eradicated, existing only to propagate the commercial mush that so defines our modernity. Radio, hailed as a great achievement which it was, now occupies the status of constant background white noise that few really listen to. Television, lauded as a revolutionary way to provide viewers with instant news, has actually ensured that when there is no news to give us, it is given to us with the same emphasis as if there were. The internet’s apparent infinite possibilities are slowly fading before our eyes too.

The recent SOPA developments were an attempt by vested interests and powers that be to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the internet’s real utility. Curiously it is the very same powers that propagandize the false grandeur of the ‘net, namely the old-school media and governments. They seek to kill off the remaining remnants of actual possibility for change and innovation that the internet provides while concurrently reassuring us that their actions are to insure its continued security and safety.

The people of Egypt showed the West how technologies like the internet should be utilized, but rather than ascertain this, we sought to falsely reassure ourselves that in fact we had exported this notion to them, the savages. Democratization is an ever-growing force in the Middle East and beyond  and if, though I have my reservations, this leads to the citizens of these nations  being allowed control of their own considerable resources, I sincerely hope for their sake that any newfound economic prowess does not propel videos of cats into their national conscience.

Ricky Gervais is Dead, Long Live Ricky Gervais

 

This weekend Ricky Gervais will host the Golden Globes for the third time. His hilarious irreverence for Hollywood’s most primped and pampered caused consternation among critics and the media but the public loved it and ratings being king, he was invited back again this year. I have no doubt Gervais will be equally, if not funnier this year than last though that element of surprise and shock might be more muted this time around.  He does it well but really, reading a few gags at an award show is about all R.G. is good for these days. Gervais’ era as a comedy great is over.

In The Office, Gervais created the best sitcom ever made. Steeped in reality and pain inducing cringeyness, the show changed the genre. No laughter tracks, no whacky catchphrases, just genuine multi-faceted comedy, the sort that extinguishes any scoffs at the notion that comedy can be art, something that although provokes shits and giggles, is deeply rooted in irony, pain and emotion.

 His alter ego David Brent stands shoulder to shoulder with Basil Fawlty as the greatest comedy character ever devised. Yet The Office was so much more than belly laughs and funny characters. It was fraught with pathos and a delicate fragility that even the best made drama series struggle to summon. We see Brent’s transition from a loveable idiot to a man broken, delusional in his quest to fit in and gain not so much the respect but the adoration of his peers. In this scene, Gervais ’moment de gloire in my opinion, we see firstly an outstanding performance from him but also something perhaps even more crucial, a real depth to character development. In most sitcoms the humour derives from characters idiosyncrasies, their foibles if you will. Yet we never apprehend why they are like this. Here we see the character utterly broken down, Brent’s realization that without his job and his office, his personality has no context.  (The scene is 5:30 secs in)

Gervais and his writing partner Stephen Merchant’s second project together was the acclaimed and award winning Extras. Following up the greatest sitcom ever made was always going to be a poisoned chalice but they managed to muster a well above average show that improved and improved with every episode, peaking in the signature Gervais two-part Christmas special to end the shows he creates. Again we see Gervais and Merchant’s talent for subverting a show’s main theme’s with smaller, often more profound thematic premises. On the surface it was simply a show about celebrities playing twisted versions of their public persona but also implied was a cutting societal commentary. Our obsession with fame and our willingness to sacrifice everything from our friends to our integrity was summed up in Gervais’ sublimely understated performance as Andy Millman. This is by far my favourite scene.

After a couple of years of average stand up and relying heavily on the genius mind of idiot savant Karl Pilkington, Gervais summoned Merchant in early 2011, dusted off the typewriter and set about defying the “difficult third album” syndrome. The fruits of that writing saw the broadcast of “Life’s Too Short”, a fake documentary following a down and out dwarf actor Warwick Davis as he struggles his way through a tall world, and even taller personal debt.

To be short (pun intended), its crap. Complete and utter crap. Warwick Davis is playing a dwarf David Brent and it is a poor imitation. The character of his hapless accountant bares more than a passing resemblance to the agent in Extras and some scenes between the two are almost carbon copies. The celeb cameos, Liam Neeson aside, seem limp compared to those in Extras and Warwick’s assistant is, horror of horrors, Vicky Pollard-esque, certainly not the type of character you’d associate with our two award winning writers. The format is all wrong also. The Office was so chillingly like the real docu-soaps of the late 90’s that when it was first broadcast people mistook it for a real show. Life’s Too Short is nothing like the horrid ITV3 and digital tv celeb docs that it is attempting to parody. A second series has been guaranteed and a HBO syndication to boot but I suspect this is merely a sign of deference to Gervais’ past glories.

That is exactly what they are, past glories. A comedian, like any artist, is faced with the unfortunate parallel paths of achieving success and losing relevance. Gervais wrote The Office, he had worked in an office for 10 years and this shined in the show’s reality. Gervais wrote Extras, he had struggled to make it in TV and when he wrote the office he demanded full directorial control. Extras is a memoir of what might have become of Ricky Gervais had he not stood by his principles. Life’s Too Short is not autobiographical. Gervais is not writing about what he knows, in fact he’s not really writing about anything at all. The show is a failed attempt to muddle together his two hit shows because really, Gervais has got nothing left to write about. His wealth and notoriety prevents him from ever really writing anything as real and proletariat as The Office, and he’s already critiqued fame in Extras.

I now know why my music adoring chums constantly refer to their fondness for an artist’s “early days”. Success usually, but perhaps not always, erodes that genesis of creativity that initially differentiates an artist and makes their work truthful and beautiful.  Gervais has fallen on this double edged sword. Ricky Gervais is dead, long live Ricky Gervais.