Friday, January 12, 2007

I'll be the judge of who I like!

(and yes, I'm well aware that that should technically be "whom"...)

So here's an avclub interview with Ricky Gervais, in which he says, of The Office:

There's only two people you shouldn't like, and that's Neil and Chris Finch. Finch is a bully, he's one of those people who comes into a room and takes a piss out of someone else, and you laugh, but really you know it's your turn next. And Neil you shouldn't like, because he doesn't care. He was better than David Brent at his job, but it meant less to him than it did to David Brent.

I have to say, I'm not at all sure that Gervais has adequate perspective on the show. Obviously, you'd have to be some sort of sociopath to like Chris Finch; nobody would deny that. But Neil--I dunno, man. Granted, the deck's kind of stacked against him in the special, having him pal around with Finch, but prior to that, he just strikes me as a decent guy trying to deal with a volatile situation. And how much is he supposed to "care," exactly? He's in the business of selling paper--this is not a highly emotionally charged situation.

And as for the notion that David "cares" more...I have to say, no. Not really. He only cares about it as long as it stokes his own ego. That may seem like a harsh assessment, but it's true: look how he doesn't even think twice about it when offered the promotion, regardless of the fact that it will mean his staff will all be laid off or forced to relocate, and how he's unable to understand why they react negatively to him telling them.

He's a well-realized character, but I do think that not working a bit harder to make him sympathetic was a mistake. As far as I can recall, his only really admirable moment is his bumbling effort to console Dawn after her fight with Lee (okay, and telling Finch to fuck off, but that's not exactly evidence of increased empathy). I think a few more like that would have made all the difference.


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