Robert Dominic Ventre II
Staff WriterIn an extensive, self-penned essay submitted to New York Magazine's Vulture blog on Sunday night, February 23rd, Alec Baldwin has declared himself through with public life. Baldwin, soon to be 56, has never been a stranger to bad publicity, and now appears to be withdrawing from the scrutinizing eye of the media more out of bitterness than a sense of self-preservation. In his essay, Baldwin lambastes members of the Hollywood elite, vocal critics of his past remarks, such as Anderson Cooper and the entire network at MSNBC, in light of their cancellation of his late-night talk show Up Late with Alec Baldwin. MSNBC claimed that the decision was made in part because of Baldwin's recent, apparently-homophobic tirade against a photographer in New York. Baldwin has since done everything from apologize for his actions to the LGBT community, to lash out against what he calls the “fundamentalist wing of gay advocacy” for having unjustly painted him as homophobic. In his essay, Baldwin states: "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.” After briefly describing his quest to learn “what is hurtful speech” to the gay community by contacting a LGBT group he had previously “researched and admired,” Baldwin went on to lament the trappings of celebrity lifestyle, commenting on the lack of privacy he's been made to endure from unruly fans and predatory members of the press. According to Baldwin, as of November 2013 when the allegations of homophobia were raised, for the celebrated actor, “everything changed”. “I haven’t changed, but public life has. It used to be you’d go into a restaurant and the owner would say, “Do you mind if I take a picture of you and put it on my wall?” Sweet and simple. Now, everyone has a camera in their pocket. Add to that predatory photographers and predatory videographers who want to taunt you and catch you doing embarrassing things. (Some proof of which I have provided.) You’re out there in a world where if you do make a mistake, it echoes in a digital canyon forever.” Despite heroically slipping in small admittances of guilt over the course of his diatribe, Baldwin's essay makes it apparent that he believes he has been victimized by a nefarious system which seeks to profit from the innocent blunders of perfectly average Hollywood men and women like himself. He continues to deny the exact terms of his on-camera incident this past November, claiming in his piece, “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?” While the public may have been happy to forgive Baldwin, if only for the fact that he claimed the photographer in question was being highly-aggressive in his pursuit of Baldwin and his family, he has only served to hobble himself in the intervening months by continuously recanting earlier explanations, stating that he was misheard when chasing down the paparazzo (though the revised version of his quote as provided by Baldwin does little to paint him in a more sophisticated light). Later in the piece, Baldwin remarks on his experience working on the Broadway play Orphans alongside his former co-star, the increasingly-eccentric Shia LeBeouf: “Getting back onstage seemed like a good idea. I loved Lyle Kessler’s play and was anxious to work with director Dan Sullivan. Then Shia LaBeouf showed up. I’d heard from other people that he was potentially very difficult to work with, but I always ignore that because people say the same thing about me. When he showed up, he seemed like a lot of young actors today—scattered, as he was coming from making six movies in a row or whatever.” He went on to recount a particularly tense experience with the young and troubled actor. After LeBeouf had gone out of his way to prove to Baldwin that his lines had been memorized prior to rehearsal, he balked at Baldwin's own lack of similar preparedness, saying, according to Baldwin: “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.” What followed was Baldwin's assurance that he would leave production of the play, as he knew things between him and LeBeouf would likely deteriorate further instead of improve: “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. I think he was surprised that it didn’t work in the theater.” Baldwin goes on to claim that the stage manager on-hand for Orphans, Michael Sullivan, “played both sides”, at once coddling and condemning LeBeouf while working on a play Baldwin posited he had no real interest in. Moving right along, Baldwin proceeds to skewer MSNBC's decision to fire him over what he continues to claim was a misheard “bisyllabic word that sounds like “faggot”—but wasn’t.” before damning Rachel Maddow as the “prime mover” in his termination: “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.” Baldwin concludes his essay by declaring that, “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.” Having blamed his recent strife on everyone from the “Gay Department of Justice” to tabloid and media-centric outlets like TMZ and the Huffington Post, Baldwin now seeks to shield himself from the public eye so as to never have to encounter these “injustices” ever again. We wish Alec Baldwin good luck in his pursuit of a cleaner image and a more peaceful life (especially in light of his past controversies, such as referring to his daughter Ireland as a “thoughtless little pig” in his now-infamous voicemail from 2007), though we also recommend that in order not to shoot himself in the foot, he should probably limit his time posting online and on Twitter especially. Read Baldwin's full essay here.
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