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We can’t raise hell over Ricky’s Irish joke

Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais ran riot at Sunday night's ceremony with an outrageous unscripted performance. It was verbal annihilation as the comedian attacked the fragile egos of Hollywood's elite while dragging up their every misdemeanour.

He didn't just take down individuals so much as whole nations. Witness his introduction for our very own Colin Farrell:

"The great thing about the Golden Globes is that it crushes prejudice and stereotypes," he began. "A particular stereotype is that Irishmen are drunk, hairy hellraisers. Now please welcome Colin Farrell."

As a joke, it's a little too close to the bone, mainly because it was delivered by a non-native.

Hold it right there, you think -- he might be a drunk, hairy hell-raiser, but he's our drunk, hairy hell-raiser, thank you very much.

But, let's be honest, he has a point: just look at our international ambassadors in the acting fraternity: Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

When their epic benders start to receive negative press, we apportion it to the flip-side of fame and the danger of earning too much money.

Nonsense. Their problems are simple: they're Irish and our collective constitution deserves an Oscar.

Any Irish person who makes it in America could be accused of alcoholism. A typical weekend here would be the grounds for 10 weeks in rehab there. The denizens of Self-Help Central just don't understand our relationship with booze.

Likewise, we could analyse the great Irish thirst all day long in terms of poverty, Catholic guilt, awful weather, but again, it's often less complicated: we like to get drunk. Simple.

As one of the largest consumers of booze in the world, we've become desensitised to the effects of alcohol. We sneer at alcohol-consumption advice: 14 units a week? Are you having a laugh?

We regard teetotallers, or rather non-alcoholics, like Jehovah's Witnesses when they have the cheek to turn up at a party.

We even have a holy day in honour of alcohol: St Patrick's Day, a 24-hour orgy of alcohol which has been accepted worldwide.

Yes, Gervais makes a fair point. But every country has its own cross to bear when it comes to stereotypes.

Tell someone you're Dutch and the assumption is that you're a sexually adventurous, pot-smoking bohemian.

Tell someone you're French and the assumption is that you're a self-righteous gastro-snob. Tell someone you're German . . . actually, don't.

When it comes to cultural stereotypes, we could come off a lot worse.