60 Minutes did a big profile on Steven Spielberg last night, where he became the latest public figure to shock the world by revealing that he wasn’t popular growing up (*GASP*) and even got bullied as a child. OH MY GOD, STEVEN SPIELBERG IS A GAY?!
LESLIE STAHL VOICEOVER: Steven had trouble fitting in. He wasn’t a good student, and he wasn’t good at sports. He was BULLIED.
SPIELBERG: I was a nerd in those days. An outsider, like a kid who played the clarinet in the band, which I did.
SPIELBERG’S MOM: We lived in an all non-Jewish neighborhood [in Phoenix]. These people used to chant, “The Spielbergs are dirty Jews!” and one night, Steve climbed out of his bedroom window, and peanut buttered their bedroom windows, which I thought was marvelous.
Whoa, racist neighbors in Phoenix? That’s not the Arizona *I* know. Okay, to be fair, Spielberg wasn’t the one who used the word “bullied,” and I think being taunted with racial slurs does meet the legal definition of “bullying.” It’s just funny that Leslie Stahl managed to do a Spielberg profile hokier than any of Spielberg’s movies. It’s basically the War Horse of celebrity profiles. Do you think she and Bernie Goldberg from HBO Real Sports hang out on the weekends? It’s so old-journalism cheesy taht I’m surprised her follow up to the exchange above wasn’t “…And Steven’s been peanut buttering Jew-haters’ windows ever since, with films like Schindler’s List and Amistad…”
Later on, she does the hoary old pop-psychology job on Stevie Speelz. Now, would you believe me if I told you his movies were affected by his childhood?? INCONCEIVABLE!
“ET, it was based on his parents divorce – when he was 19.”
They go on to say Spielberg blamed his father for the divorce and took it out on him in his movies. Because, obviously, children are always hung up on their parents’ divorce when it shatters their home life at the tender age of… uh… nineteen. (Sidenote: My parents divorced when I was 19. But I exercised most of my demons in my goth poetry).
VOICEOVER: This may explain why the workaholic, absent father is a recurring theme in Spielberg’s movies.
This leads into, I sh*t you not, a scene from Hook. “Sometimes I think when Rufio was calling Peter a boil-dripping, beef-fart-sniffing bubble butt, that was me talking to my dad, you know? I was all conflicted, like there was a Bangarang in my heart.”
STAHL: When you were angry at him, you made a lot movies about fathers who abandoned their kids, and fathers who were bad guys. And all of a sudden there’s a change. The fathers start becoming the heroes.
VOICEOVER: War of the Worlds ends up with an emotional father-son reconciliation. Schindler’s List symbolized Spielberg trying to face down the Anti-Semitism he felt as a youth in Phoenix.
Finally, she gets to Lincoln.
VOICEOVER: With only one brief battle scene, the movie’s more like a stage play with lots of dialog, as Lincoln cajoles and horse trades for votes.
Hahaha, “horse trades,” I see what you did there. I’ve always said Lincoln was our most equine of presidents. Inspiring.
“This being a Spielberg film, you also see Lincoln struggling to raise his son.”
(*head on desk*)
The profile’s one saving grace is the story of Spielberg’s parents. His now-92-year-old mom divorced his now 95-year-old dad to marry one of the dad’s friends, who has since died. Now Spielberg’s mom, dad, and dad’s second wife all party together like freaky old swingers. They’re adorable. I would’ve watched a whole profile on just this. If journalists were smart enough to follow the stories they were actually getting instead of trying to shape them into the same lame clichés about nerdy childhoods and bullying, these film press tours might actually be interesting.