writing down the sun

Earth to Alec Baldwin

Posted in celebrities by annie on April 21, 2007

“Although I have been told by numerous people not to worry too much, as all parents lose their patience with their kids, I am most saddened that this was released to the media because of what it does to a child. I’m sorry, as everyone who knows me is aware, for losing my temper with my child. I have been driven to the edge by parental alienation for many years now. You have to go through this to understand. (Although I hope you never do.) I am sorry for what happened. But I am equally sorry that a court order was violated, which had deliberately been put under seal in this case.”

– Alec Baldwin (statement published on his official website, http://www.alecbaldwin.com, which is as of this writing inaccessible presumably due to traffic spikes)

I’m not much of a celebrity-watcher. I never really saw the point, honestly. I figured most of the truth never saw the light of day, thanks to hard-core managers and minders, and the stuff that was published was either sensationalized, wildly puffed, or just downright false. Plus – nothing personal, guys – but you celebrity types always seemed a little silly to me. Caught up in stuff that had nothing to do with my life, you play out these little dramas in the public eye, then throw temper tantrums about how you have no privacy. But it’s that same lack of privacy that made you a star and brought you those countless gift bags people keep throwing at you, so – that’s a puzzle, to me.

Yet this little tirade of Alec Baldwin’s definitely caught my eye. When I first heard of it, on some random radio morning show, I came in mid-story and so spent the first several hours thinking he’d said these awful things to his ex-wife. I was vaguely aware he used to be married to Kim Basinger, and there was some drama going on over the inevitable divorce, but it was rather surprising to me that (A) someone so used to having his private life splashed across tabloid pages would ever lose control like that on a recorded medium and (B) someone who has to be so very careful about his public image now, thanks to an ongoing courtroom battle, would lose control like that on a recorded medium. But, I reasoned, marriages generate a lot of hate when they fail, and who am I to judge if the man loses his cool and runs off at the mouth like that to his ex?

Then, I found out the truth. This was directed at his daughter. Who is not even yet in her teens.

Now, I’m in. Now, I have something to say.

I say this as the mother of a young girl, age 7 going on 30, who is absolutely capable of pushing every single button I have and testing my patience to the very ends of its limits. Have I ever lost my cool with my kid? Uh – yeah. A lot. Have I ever said things I regret? Of course. Have I ever called her a “pig” – much less a “rude, thoughtless” one? Or told her she has no “brains” or “common decency”?

Never. Not once. Nor would I ever.

And this is what separates us from the celebrities, I think uncharitably, realizing this construct places the famous on a slightly lower branch of the animal kingdom from the rest of humanity. That’s too harsh. I’m sure not all celebrities would do this to their kids. I’d like to think none of them would – that Baldwin is some aberration, a genetic throwback to generations of celebrities long past, that homo celebritus has evolved since his kind roamed the planet. Yet in Baldwin I see the manifestation of what I think is the root cause of the issue with celebrities, no matter what the nature of the trainwreck they find themselves at the center of: they’ve started believing their own bullshit.

I think it may happen this way: perfectly normal human being hits Hollywood (or whatever center of insanity serves as the locus for the industry said human being is drawn to). PNHB works hard, achieves some modest success, whereupon the entourage descends. Stylists, PR reps, managers, agents, lawyers, hangers-on – and this creates the all-elusive buzz. Once the buzz starts, there’s really no going back. You’ll either ride the train to celebrityhood or you’ll fall off, crash and burn and wind up on an E! TV “True Hollywood Story: Where Are They Now?” special.

It’s on that train that the transformation happens. PNHB goes from “perfectly normal” to … not. From “human being” to “celebrity.” And they begin to believe the lines that those hangers-on start feeding them, and the inevitable result: a celebrity with an overblown sense of entitlement. That entitlement is what causes tirades like Baldwin’s, I think. They honestly think the rules just don’t apply to them.

And then, when it all blows up in their face? We get the Non-Apology. Baldwin’s really is a textbook example. Note how he never really apologizes for what he said to his daughter, although he does manage a weak “sorry” for “losing [his] temper.” He reminds us that all parents “lose their patience” (a true enough statement but one which in no way describes what he did), and that the real villain here is the one who released the tape and thus injured his daughter.

Call me crazy, Baldwin, but I think what injured your daughter was hearing her father call her a rude, thoughtless pig who lacked brains and common decency.

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