Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Open Letter to Alec Baldwin

Alec Baldwin is talking again, about his temper, his MSNBC failure, his career and those damned paparazzi, and you can read his entire essay HERE. As usual, though, he takes no responsibility for his actions, none of them, so I sat myself down and I wrote him a letter:
Dear Alec,

Why? Why now, I mean? It’s been months since your last run-in with the paparazzi, months since you last hurled an anti-gay epithet at a photographer, months since your last mea culpa I Am Not A Homophobe tour, and months since you were fired from MSNBC for not being able to keep your rage, and tongue, in check. So, why now? Why take the newsprint to write a letter once again detailing your side of the story, with funny little quips about the media, and the gay members of the media along the way?
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.”
The Gay Dept of Justice; that’s funny. Just another little insult to the Gay community because we called you out on the words you choose, and use, in anger. But let’s let that slide, because you’re talking about that trip to Hawaii, and the anonymous gay rights group — I say anonymous, because you fail to name the organization, or even the people, with which you spoke — and what you learned from them.

Let’s see …. You learned “about the torment of the LGBT life many of them have lived while growing up in traditional Hawaiian families. Macho fathers. Religious mothers. We talked a lot about words and their power, especially in the lives of young people.” And then what do you say?
“One young man, an F-to-M tranny ...”
Tranny. You choose a word many in the T of the LGBT community find offensive, and yet you say you’re not homophobic. I don’t get it; you’re an educated man, apparently, living in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and yet you can’t say transgender? Tranny, to many, is as offensive as queer, or faggot. Don’t use it.

Stop. Please.

And stop with this article writing where you want to explain why you act as you do, and how it’s everyone’s fault but your own. At some point, when the same mistake is being made over and over and over again, you need to take responsibility. Yes, the world has changed, the media has changed, but you’ve stayed the same: an anger bitter man who feels he should be treated a certain way and when he isn’t he flies into a rage.

“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 … And then, last November, everything changed.”
Yes, it all changed when yet another when a man tried to snap a picture of you … or your wife … or your baby. Or when someone suggested that maybe your wife was Tweeting during a funeral. And you went off on strangers, using anti-gay slurs — please, Alec, ‘toxic little queen’ is a slur no matter how you slice it—though you maintain you aren’t anti-gay.
“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. Soon after that, I’m advocating with Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Cynthia Nixon for marriage equality. I’m officiating at a gay friend’s wedding. I’m not a homophobic person at all. But this is how the world now sees me. … I haven’t changed, but public life has.”
Public life has changed, for all of us, everywhere. People, most people, have learned that name-calling, and insulting a particular group of people, be it by their race, religion, or sexual orientation, is unacceptable. So, seriously, please, for the love of Liza, stop with the “I have gay friends” line. Do you not remember how that sounds? If not, think of the racist who says, “Me? A racist? I have black friends.” With friends like that, and like you, we don’t need enemies.

But you go on, blaming photographers for the nasty pictures of you; the red-faced rage; the spitting as you shriek at them; the balled up fists as you chase them down the street. Every child knows that if you want to spark a reaction in someone you poke them, say something inappropriate, and misbehave in some way. You push ‘em a little and they explode and rant and scream and generally make a fool of themselves; and those children know that they can do it again and again. But, poke a bear with a stick, and the bear does nothing, even a child would stop poking. You, on the other hand, have proven time and again that you cannot control your anger, and photographers who earn the big money on pictures of celebrities acting badly know that all they need do is snap a picture of you on the public streets of New York and they’re gonna get chased and attacked and berated.

Let it go. Stop reacting. Stop.

But you can’t, because it’s not your fault. The world, this new media world, this new instant access world, is out to make you look bad. And so you dredge up, once again, the incident with the photographer who says you called him a ’faggot’ because he got too close to your wife, and your child, or your car … or something.

Let it go.
“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? Do you honestly believe I would give someone like TMZ’s Harvey Levin, of all people, another club to beat me with?
What happened is, a TMZ videographer ambushed me as I was putting my family in a car, and I chased him down the block and said, “Cocksucking motherfucker” or whatever (when I have some volatile interaction with these people, I don’t pull out a pen and take notes on what I said). I knew that guy. This was a guy who is on a bike usually, and when we get in a car, he follows us. Very aggressive. The same guy who followed my wife on a bicycle, and when she slipped and fell trying to dodge him and hurt her leg, he laughed at her and said, “See what I made you do?” At my wife. How would that make you feel?”
That’s a new story you haven’t told before; how a paparazzi made your wife fall and then laughed about it. Stop. But you can’t because you are the perennial victim of photographers and journalists and TV hosts. Except, as I said, if you stop reacting there’s be no story. Think how this story would fare on TMZ: Breaking News!! A photographer followed Alec Baldwin down the street and Baldwin said nothing, he just kept walking.

But you can’t, because you do nothing wrong, you play no part in the way you are treated or how the world responds to you. Like the debacle of your MSNBC show.
“My “career” as a talk-show host started with a perfectly simple ambition … I wanted to conduct interviews based on appreciation of my guests and their work. Or, in the case of those like George Will, a respect for their careers, whether I agreed with them or not. To think that something as uncomplicated and innocent as that led to the MSNBC debacle is till surreal to me ... I watched MSNBC, prior to working there, very sporadically. Once I had signed a contract with them, I wanted to see more of what they were about. It turned out to be the same shit all day long. The only difference was who was actually pulling off whatever act they had come up with. Morning Joe was boring. Scarborough is neither eloquent nor funny. And merely cranky doesn’t always work well in the morning. Mika B. is the Margaret Dumont of cable news. I liked Chris Jansing a lot. Very straightforward. I like Lawrence O’Donnell, but he’s too smart to be doing that show. 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.”
Wow, the ego roars. He’s too good for MSNBC and yet he took the job; everyone at MSNBC sucks, and they all think too highly of themselves. Oh, maybe that’s why he signed on … until it went south and then it was everyone’s fault but his own.
“MSNBC assigned a producer to me, Jonathan Larsen. … Larsen didn’t get me or the show and didn’t want to be there. When I told him I wanted to interview Debra Winger, Larsen looked like, We’re here on a set, with an expensive crew and studio time, and you want to talk to Debra Winger? There was nothing less interesting to him. Most of the guests I suggested — Ellen Barkin, Neal Barnard from PCRM, JFK-conspiracy icon Mark Lane — he couldn’t care less. As we went along, Larsen would simply stare at me after everything I’d suggest and say, “Well, let’s see what Phil [Griffin, head of MSNBC] says.” Larsen was sent there to babysit me.
[W]hen I saw that Griffin didn’t have a single piece of paper on his desk, meeting after meeting after meeting, that should have been my first indication there was going to be a problem. Phil is a veteran programmer who knows well the corridors and chambers of television programming—and couldn’t give a flying fuck about content. All he wanted to talk about was Giants tickets, Super Bowl tickets, restaurants, movies. The conversations about the set, about the physical production of the show, cameras, lighting—it seemed like he wanted to get those over with as quickly as possible. 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.”
Once again, the talent at MSNBC isn’t worthy of him, the producer doesn’t like him, the head of the network doesn’t like him, and yet he signed on, took a paycheck and now blames all of them for the failure of his show.

In the midst of his painfully, or happily, short tenure at MSNBC came the death of actor James Gandofini, which spawned another Alec Baldwin rage-fest, where Twitter was spewed with his bile.
“I was despondent about [Gandolfini’s] death. Jimmy was a “showbiz friend,” one with whom I had worked and greeted warmly whenever our paths crossed. His death hit me somewhat hard, considering his baby daughter and the fact that he was younger than me. I ended up attacking a reporter who wrote in the Daily Mail online that my wife was tweeting from Jimmy’s funeral. He was wrong—in fact, at a later time, she had retweeted items whose original time code matched the time of the funeral.
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. He lied about my wife. They say this is what comes with stardom — I don’t agree with you. A journalist isn’t supposed to write a lie about you. If he was in New York, I might have had the impulse to beat the shit out of the guy. At the time, I didn’t view “toxic little queen” as a homophobic statement. I didn’t realize how those words could give offense, and I’m sorry for that.”
Your impulses are violent, physically, and verbally, and that's on you. What's also on you is this ridiculous notion that you never thought 'toxic little queen' might be a wee bit homophobic. You, with the gay friend,s gay co-workers, in a business surrounded by gay folks, didn't think that was the wrong thing to say?

Why? Because, as you say, the man lied about your wife? What he actually did, was make a mistake about a Tweet. But the mistake was about your wife, your wife, and so naturally that meant that you should respond by name-calling and threats of physical violence. How is that a way to act for a grown man? How is name-calling appropriate? How in the world does it get to the topic of shoving a foot in someone’s ass because they made a mistake? Not a lie, a mistake. I mean, you say it was a mistake, the use of the word ‘faggot’ in one of your rants; you say you never said that word, you’d never say that word.
“I get angry, and I’ve said all sorts of things in anger, but I’d never use that word. … In the recent video, you see me completely riled up and going after this guy and you hear me saying “cocksucker” and then some bisyllabic word that sounds like “faggot” — but wasn’t.  … Levin has so little regard for the truth, which is odd, knowing he was once a legal correspondent for the CBS affiliate in L.A. He’s also the one who revealed the tape that my ex-wife’s lawyers provided of me yelling at my daughter seven years ago. Knowing that none of it would have transpired if I hadn’t left the message in the first place, I think he hurt my daughter more than anyone.”
See what he does there? Baldwin ranted at his own child on a telephone message and because Harvey Levin leaked it, it’s Harvey’s fault. Nowhere does Baldwin even remotely suggest that if he hadn’t treated his daughter so disgustingly there wouldn’t have been a tape to play.

It’s someone else’s fault. Not Alec’s. He didn’t say faggot, he said a word that might have sounded like faggot but even he doesn’t know what he said because he was so enraged at the time he just spewed venom.

Grow up. Take some responsibility. But he doesn’t, not even in his firing from MSNBC after the “toxic little queen” mess. He wasn’t fired because he said that, y’all, he was fired because Rachel Maddow didn’t think Baldwin worthy of an MSNBC show. It was Maddow, people. Maddow!
“Once they fired me, a former MSNBC employee I knew emailed me. He said, “You watch now, Phil is going to start leaking left and right to bury you.” When I left, “Page Six” was flooded with lies about me. 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 wields so much power at MSNBC that she just snapped her fingers one day—on the heels of a Baldwin blow-up—and he’s gone. Funny, though, had she been that powerful, how did he get signed to the network in the first place if she thought him unworthy? Doesn’t matter to Baldwin because it’s not his fault; it never is. He blames everyone else for what happens to him when he opens his mouth in public and can’t control what he says.
“When 30 Rock went into syndication, I sensed that I was going to be on TV for a bit, so I crafted my arrangement with Capital One Bank to fund my foundation for charitable giving. They paid me $15 million over nearly five years. After taxes and accounting fees, I will have given all of it, $14.125 million, to charity. After the TMZ event, Capital One did not renew my contract, although it politely said the two things were unrelated. AT&T had booked me for a paid speech in Orlando — and then canceled. WNYC lost funding for my radio show. Bill de Blasio, who apparently gets his news from TMZ, too, distanced himself from me.”
But not for anything you did, right? Because of Cooper and Sullivan and Maddow and Levin. All out to get Alec Baldwin because … because … because …
“Now I loathe and despise the media in a way I did not think possible. I used to engage with the media knowing that some of it would be adversarial, but now it’s superfluous at best and toxic at its worst. … 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.”
Please, keep that one promise to us. Stop talking. Stop being confrontational. Seek anger management. Accept responsibility for the things you do and say, for the consequences of what you do. This mess that has been made of your personal life isn’t the fault of paparazzi. If you ignored them, they’d stop poking you. If you stopped with the homophobic taunts and threats and the anti-gay slurs, maybe Cooper and Sullivan and Maddow would leave you alone. But you started the fight when you opened your mouth.
“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.
It’s good-bye to public life in the way that you try to communicate with an audience playfully like we’re friends, beyond the work you are actually paid for. Letterman. Saturday Night Live. That kind of thing. I want to go make a movie and be very present for that and give it everything I have, and after we’re done, then the rest of the time is mine. I started out as an actor, where you seek to understand yourself using the words of great writers and collaborating with other creative people. Then I slid into show business, where you seek only an audience’s approval, whether you deserve it or not. I think I want to go back to being an actor now.
There’s a way I could have done things differently. I know that. If I offended anyone along the way, I do apologize. But the solution for me now is: I’ve lived this for 30 years, I’m done with it.
And, admittedly, this is how I feel in February of 2014.”
I hope it works, this move out of the public eye; I hope a move to LA works, too, though i fear the paparazzi will still hound you because they know how you react, how you always react, and will follow you and maybe taunt you just to get a picture of an enraged Alec Baldwin.

What you should do is just stop talking. Maker your movies; appear on TV; do a play. Talk to your fans that way, but keep your personal life, and your personal antics, to yourself until you learn to handle yourself in public.

Seriously, as you say in your long-winded way, stop talking. Get out of the public life; stop.



MAC said...

I totally agree with your letter, but I learned a long time ago, "You can't argue with crazy (or stupid)".

Bob Slatten said...

True, MAC.
Baldwin keeps making the same mistakes over and over again and yet he's not to blame?

viktor kerney said...

Good letter, he should get that sent to him personally

the dogs' mother said...

good grief - he goes on and on and on!

Bob Slatten said...

I tweeted it to him so ..... yeah.

He does and yet he complains that it's all people talk about. Huh?

Professor Chaos said...

I never understood why MSNBC would give him a show. He really seems like a nasty person. There's something really wrong with that whole family - Alec the rage-aholic homophobe, Daniel the alcoholic, and the less said about Stephen the better. Just because he calls himself a "liberal" and might be on the good side of some issues doesn't make him a decent person.

Helen Lashbrook said...

Since when has the media not peddled lies? Some parts of the media peddle untruths mixed with truths, or just plain mistakes; good for the ratings. There are very few media outlets that I trust to get it right over 75% of the time. If I know that, how come a product of the media can't get it too?

Mitchell is Moving said...

Holy crap! I almost made it through his entire letter. Almost. Holy crap! Great job summing it up. You should send it to him.