Prompted by who-knows-what reasoning, Alec Baldwin recently decided to bid farewell once more to the public spotlight via a long and meandering essay. Published in the February 24, 2014 print edition of New York Magazine and then online at Vulture yesterday evening, the missive seems to have no catalyst. Instead Baldwin is simply 'fed up' with how the media machine works in the 21st century. So now he's going to take his ball and home..this time for super serious you guys. You can read his rant in its entirety over here but I've saved you the trouble by pulling out the choicest bits. Can you live-blog a written article? Well if you couldn't before today, you can now. Here we go!
'Alec Baldwin: Good-bye, Public Life'
Off to a great start. This title sets the tone for the essay. And that tone is a letter scrawled in a notebook, left open on the kitchen table for mom to find because Alec's running away from home cuz life is hard and unfair and he s to the Minit Mart before realizing at fourteen he has no money for bus fare and has to call mom to come pick him up and by the way, what's for dinner?
'I flew to Hawaii recently to shoot a film, fresh on the heels of being labeled a homophobic bigot by Andrew Sullivan, Anderson Cooper, and others in the Gay Department of Justice. I wanted to speak with a gay-rights group that I had researched and admired, so I called its local Honolulu branch.'
Because he wants to prove he's not homophobic, just in a place as far from reporters and judgement as possible. Asking to be held accountable for his words isn't on the agenda of being a super awesome ally.
'One young man, an F-to-M tranny, said, “Are you here to get dry-cleaned, like Brett Ratner?”'
*Record scratch…* Oh my God. No Alec Baldwin. No. I swear to Christ I'm going to get a spray bottle full of water and spritz you like a cat clawing the drapes every time you utter that slur. How do you spend time talking to the LGBT community for hours and still use that word? Oh right, you protect yourself with a +3 bubble of self-righteousness.
'I said, “No. I don”t want to get dry-cleaned. I don”t want to be decontaminated by you, Karen Silkwood–wise, scrubbed down. I want to learn about what is hurtful speech in your community.'
WELL YOU FAILED ON EVERY CONCEIVABLE LEVEL ALREADY DO YOU WANT A TROPHY?
'I”ve read where a number of people have felt that 2013 was a shitty year. For me, it was actually a great year, because my wife and I had a baby. But, yeah, everything else was pretty awful. And I find myself bitter, defensive, and more misanthropic than I care to admit. And I”m trying to understand what happened, how an altercation on the street, in which I was accused-wrongly-of using a gay slur, could have cascaded like this. There”s been a shift in my life. And it”s caused me to step back and say, This is happening for a reason.'
I will bet you all the money on this Earth Alec Baldwin – by the end of this essay – will not have come to the conclusion that the reason is because he's a terrible person and eventually bad things DO happen to bad people.
'I”ve had a relatively charmed life. I loved to be out in the city. New York was my town. I”ve had people come up to me and say, “You”re a great New Yorker. You”ve given your time and money to so many New York charities. You”re a great supporter of the arts. I like some of your movies-and some of your movies suck, actually.” (It”s New York, so people give you their unvarnished opinion.) But people in general had been very kind to me for years.'
We must assume these are fictional people and/or plants paid for by NBC to appease him into continuing '30 Rock' and later credit card commercials. Because no actual human being on the street naturally speaks like this.
'And then, last November, everything changed.'
The fire nation attacked?
'Am I a homophobe? Look, I work in show business. I am awash in gay people, as colleagues and as friends. I”m doing Rock of Ages one day, making out with Russell Brand.'
Ahhh yes. The old 'I made out with another straight person for comedic effect because men making out his hilarious, a trope which is totally not rooted in homophobia at all' defense. Officiating the wedding of an LGBT friend and campaigning for marriage equality doesn't give anyone a 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card for deplorable language or behavior.
'But-I”m sorry, I can”t let go of this-do people really, really believe that, when I shouted at that guy, I called him a “faggot” on-camera?'
Considering the things you yelled at your own daughter over the phone? Yes. Yes we do believe it. Incidents like that tend to lend credibility to future accusations of violent verbal outbursts.
'As my agent used to say, you don”t want to be walking down an alleyway with a flashlight in your hand for ten years, doing some police procedural.'
This just seems like unnecessary shade at the popular and lucrative crime drama market. Why you gotta drag CSI into your 'I'm not homophobic' dissertation?
'There was friction between us from the beginning. LaBeouf seems to carry with him, to put it mildly, a jailhouse mentality wherever he goes. When he came to rehearsal, he was told it was important to memorize his lines. He took that to heart and learned all his lines in advance, even emailing me videos in which he read aloud his lines from the entire play. To prove he had put in the time. (What else do you do in jail?) I, however, do not learn my lines in advance. So he began to sulk because he felt we were slowing him down. You could tell right away he loves to argue. And one day he attacked me in front of everyone. He said, “You”re slowing me down, and you don”t know your lines. And if you don”t say your lines, I”m just going to keep saying my lines.”'
So – damn you Baldwin for making me side with LaBeaouf – you're trying to paint Shia as the bad guy because he took his job seriously and was upset when you weren't memorizing your lines? You're chuckling to yourself and ribbing us in the elbow to get us to disparage his work ethic? What? You realize a play is live right? You can't say 'Line!' or 'Cut!' or start the scene over and then piece it together from the fifty takes you just did.
'We all sat, frozen. I snorted a bit, and, turning to him in front of the whole cast, I asked, “If I don”t say my words fast enough, you”re going to just say your next line?” I said. “You realize the lines are written in a certain order?” He just glared at me. So I asked the company to break. And I took the stage manager, with Sullivan, to another room, and I said one of us is going to go. I said, “I”ll tell you what, I”ll go.” I said don”t fire the kid, I”ll quit. They said no, no, no, no, and they fired him. And I think he was shocked. He had that card, that card you get when you make films that make a lot of money that gives you a certain kind of entitlement.'
Let's follow the Baldwin logic here. You took the stage manager aside and passively aggressively got your co-worker fired because he dared to tell you to take your job seriously and memorize your lines. And then you expect us – the readers – to pat you on the back and tell say you did the right thing? I believe I may faint from the vacuum created in the room by your arrogance. It is not entitlement to expect professionalism from a man who has been in entertainment since before you were the weird kid on 'Even Stevens'. Alec Baldwin, I will never forgive you for making Shia LeBeouf the sympathetic party.
'But firing LaBeouf didn”t help things. Sullivan played both sides. In emails, he coddled Shia. To me, he spoke differently. I was working with an older, more enervated Sullivan, who didn”t have the energy for any of this. I don”t think Sullivan liked the play-I don”t think he liked me.'
I can't imagine why. You seem like such a delight to work with.
'Rachel Maddow is Rachel Maddow, the ultimate wonk/dweeb who got a show, polished it, made it her own. She”s talented. The problem with everybody on MSNBC is none of them are funny, although that doesn”t prevent them from trying to be.'
Alec Baldwin doesn't seem to realize the news isn't a stand-up comedy routine. Entertainment is optional, sometimes ancillary to give levity to a serious issue. But reporting is not. It's mandatory. Cuz, you know, the news. Besides, there's nothing really funny about riots in the streets and economic collapse.
'Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming-and couldn”t give a flying fuck about content.[…]He didn”t care. He had four monitors on the wall. They were all on, muted. He never listened to them. He never watched them.'
Yes this is what we've come to. Phil Griffin – head of MSNBC – doesn't care about the news because he mutes his monitors and turns away from them during meetings with his employees. What a jerk. Paying attention to the people in the room.
'In my rage, however, I called him a “toxic little queen,” and, thus, Anderson Cooper, the self-appointed Jack Valenti of gay media culture, suggested I should be “vilified,” in his words. I didn”t feel bad about the incident.'
'…because I am homophobic,' is sadly not how that sentence ended. Self-awareness, thy name is not Baldwin.
'Another told me, regarding the “toxic little queen” comment, that Rachel Maddow was the prime mover in my firing, as she was aghast that I had been hired and viewed me as equivalent to Mel Gibson. Another source told me, “You know who”s going to get you fired, don”t you? Rachel. Phil will do whatever Rachel tells him to do.” I think Rachel Maddow is quite good at what she does. I also think she”s a phony who doesn”t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air.'
Rachel Maddow seems perplexed by this assessment of her personality, considering she and Baldwin have never met. It's hard to get us to believe you're the one telling the truth when you're essay is peppered with lies of omission.
'I”m aware that it”s ironic that I”m making this case in the media-but this is the last time I”m going to talk about my personal life in an American publication ever again.'
Promises, promises. We've seen this song and dance before Baldwin. Fool us once and all that.
'I think America”s more fucked up now than it”s ever been. People are angry that in the game of musical chairs that is the U.S. economy, there are less seats at the table when the music stops. And at every recession, the music is stopping.'
Such a bold statement. Truly Alec Baldwin knows we are in the darkness period of American history. Worse than the Trail of Tears, worse then pre-Civil War antebellum south, even worse than the racial tensions of the 1960s.
'I probably have to move out of New York. I just can”t live in New York anymore. Everything I hated about L.A. I”m beginning to crave. L.A. is a place where you live behind a gate, you get in a car, your interaction with the public is minimal. I used to hate that. But New York has changed. Manhattan is like Beverly Hills. And the soul of New York has moved to Brooklyn, where everything new and exciting seems to be. I have to accept that. I want my newest child to have as normal and decent a life as I can provide. New York doesn”t seem the place for that anymore.'
So instead of moving across the river to Brooklyn – the NEW New York – you'll pack up your family and move to L.A. even though you literally just said Manhattan and Beverly Hills are interchangeable. So what's the point here? You even couch this with the effervescent 'probably' so when six weeks or six months from now, when nothing has changed and people question why the move never came to be, you can point to that word and say 'Oh I was just thinking about it. I never said we were moving.'
After over five-thousand words my opinion has not changed. Despite its length and rambling topic shifts, Alec Baldwin might as well have just penned an over-dramatic 'YOU AREN'T MY REAL DAD I'M GONNA GO LIVE WITH JIMMY'S FAMILY' angry scrawl. The only difference is it was published on Vulture and not LiveJournal.