What is it about self-deprecating celebrities that we find so funny? Is it because they’re beautiful and successful and it’s hilarious to watch them admit just how beautiful and successful they really are?
The question is wordlessly posed in the mockumentary-style P.S.A. for Red Nose Day, (happening now!), which stars approximately a bajillion famous people … from Ellen DeGeneres to Anna Kendrick and Julianne Moore to Bono. Even Bill Gates makes a commendable appearance, as does a soft-focus Céline Dion and Seinfeld‘s Newman (Wayne Knight), whose very visage makes me pine for inane coffee-shop conversation and Elaine’s shoulder pads. But that’s a whole other story …
Red Nose Day—established 25 years ago to raise funds for poverty-stricken children across the globe—has long been a favorite cause among the A-list set, partly for its clown-nose selfie opportunities and mostly because of its undeniable effectiveness in raising more than $1 billion for underprivileged kids worldwide.
While a backwards Will Ferrell and a Zoolander-esque Zac Efron take second and third place, my first-favorite moment of the promo has to be when Liam Neeson says, “Group pleas like this can leave celebrities who are used to being the center of attention feeling …”
“Underutilized,” finishes Emma Thompson and you can almost taste her Earl Grey disdain as the soon-to-be Mrs. Potts delivers her line with brilliant faux-despondence. The segment arrives on the heels of interviews given by Gone Girl‘s Emily Ratajkowski (or more famously, the naked chick in the Blurred Lines video), and Charlize Theron. Both women, amid too-candid convos with huge media publications, both opined their physical perfection, complaining of losing gritty parts to their less-gorgeous peers.
“If you’re a sexy actress it’s hard to get serious roles,” Ratajkowski told Glamour.
“When meaty roles come through, I’ve been in the room and pretty people get turned away first,” Theron said to Vanity Fair.
And when these bereft beauties spoke, the Internet let out a collective groan. Then it quickly divided into two opposing camps: Those who defended Charlize and Ratajkowski in tweets and posts—leave them alone, people! Being pretty ain’t easy!—and those who called out their woe-is-me attitude as being the epitome of Hollywood lame.
It’s true celebrities operate on a different wavelength—OK universe—than the rest of us and yes, it’s mind-numbingly dumb to express how being beautiful makes the job of famous actress sooo hard. (Last time I checked, Ratajkowski wasn’t stranded in a cubicle earning $35,000 a year at a thankless entry-level job and Oscar-winning Theron wasn’t restocking moccasins at a soulless mega-shoe store.) But aha! There it is! The funny in celebrity self-deprecation. We abhor them when they whine but we adore them when they take a look at their ridiculously awesome lives and laugh in the face of fame. Add a red nose to the picture and you arrive at the essence of why today is such a crazy, huge success. Roll credits, this one’s a wrap.
To donate to Red Nose Day, visit www.rednoseday.org.