Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Aside from the obvious news of Harold Ramis’ passing, I noticed an open letter penned by Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin doing the rounds today. It is raw, heart-felt, maybe a little harsh. But whatever you think of him as a person – a raving homophobe, an indignant conservative, a trumped-up actor – it is honest.
I felt badly for him because a lot of his observations about the media resonated with me. They’re the reasons I’ve spent the last few years getting away from the games media and, later, the media generally.
This was compounded by a lot of the reactions I saw to the open letter from people I know, people in the media, and others I know by reputation… people who are in a position to lead public discussion. They’ve been quick to denounce and dismiss it, many of them incapable of getting past his use of a few politically incorrect pejoratives that have been attributed to him, as though that isn’t what this whole controversy is about.
I question how many of those people made it to the end of the letter. Some of them literally commented they were so disgusted that they “couldn’t finish it”, as though the ability to prejudge has replaced open-mindedness as an intellectual virtue.
I’ve interviewed a lot of Hollywood celebrities in my time, and one of the key things I learned to appreciate is the fact that they’re just people doing a job. They’re interested in the same things you and I are interested in. Sometimes, all they want is a little conversation.
The ones you read about in the media are the ones who got really lucky, but otherwise it’s as mundane and at times soul-crushing an existence as any other.
There’s a little video that did the rounds two weeks ago in which Samuel L Jackson royally handed KTLA’s entertainment editor his arse. That’s four minutes of champagne comedy to you and I. However, I’m willing to bet Mr Jackson had probably spent the past four hours staring into that camera to answer the same stupid questions over 40 different interviews from that shoebox of a set before that jackass from KTLA came along to make his day.
I’ve even had actors and directors whose work I greatly admire apologise profusely for being late to an interview, as though they’re afraid of pissing me off.
In Alec Baldwin’s case, it’s his version of events as told over 5,280 words against a handful of three-second video clips that have been shared and watched over and over again by millions. He’s not here to ‘win’, as it were, with this last word, and he knows it.
I’m not here to make a value judgement about whether he’s a homophobe, but I’m glad he was able to tell his side of the story. There’s certainly more I can believe in what he’s written than I can about those video clips. Unfortunately, short video clips and funny animated gifs seem to be all the rage right now.
People are dumb.