Reason: Alec Baldwin’s real problem is the democratization of speech
posted at 11:58 am on June 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Even accounting for his “Irish temper,” Reason’s Nick Gillespie believes he understands why Alec Baldwin flies into name-calling rages when crossed, and it’s not necessarily what people think. In the days before the Internet and especially social-media networks like Twitter, celebrities like Baldwin could expound on issues without being effectively challenged. Now, however, everyone has the power to challenge those views, and the elites don’t much like it:
Baldwin sputters that the very tools he can use to bypass “the mainstream media and talk directly” to his audience also empowers all those dim people out there in the dark. What’s more, his followers have minds of their own. They may enjoy his turns inGlenngarry Glenn Ross and 30 Rock and guest-hosting on Turner Classic Movies but not really find his views on fracking to be worth a damn. It’s a real kick in the pants for a celebrity to be reduced to asking, “Do you think I’m really changing anybody’s mind?” …
Remember the good old days, not just when there were only three national TV networks and one or two national newspapers, and when Hollywood studios could virtually completely control the image surrounding their contract players like halos on a saint’s shoulders?
Today, the whole goddamned world is Grub Street and everybody, it seems, owns a printing press. So woe is Alec Baldwin:
We live in a world where there’s no journalism anymore. I mean trained, I don’t expect everybody writing for Gothamist or The New York Times…even The New York Times I don’t expect those people to all be coming out of Columbia per se, but I expect them to make some attempt to get it right, which you can almost never count on anymore.
Well, there’s no doubt that Baldwin does have a point about the anger and the abuse that exists on Twitter. Anyone who wishes to engage there had better have a thick skin, or develop one fast. It’s not a system that generously rewards nuance and moderated thought; snark and attacks are usually (but not always) more quickly repeated and rewarded.
On the other hand, celebrities like Baldwin still come in with a huge advantage in this marketplace in terms of followers and defenders, who often mobilize to shout down critics of their favorite celebrities whether they deserve a defense or not. So even on the terms of Baldwin’s argument, I’m not prepared to cry for his hurt feelings. His problem is that his behavior was indefensible, even if the Daily Mail botched the reporting on his wife’s tweets, which they certainly did. Baldwin could have passionately demanded an apology and a correction without using homophobic slurs and physical threats, “Irish temper” or no.
That’s what TMZ thinks, too — and they’re not buying the “some of my best friends are gay” defense from Baldwin, either:
“The idea of me calling this guy a ‘queen’ and that being something that people thought is homophobic … a queen to me has a different meaning. It’s somebody who’s just above. It doesn’t have any necessarily sexual connotations. To me a queen … I know women that act queeny, I know men that are straight that act queeny, and I know gay men that act queeny. It doesn’t have to be a definite sexual connotation, or a homophobic connotation. To me those are people who think the rules don’t apply to them.”
Alec is full of crap … and here’s why: In the same Twitter rant in which he attacked the reporter, George Stark, Baldwin included the threat … “If (sic) put my foot up your f***ing ass, George Stark, but I’m sure you’d dig it too much.”
So let’s do some math. Queen + enjoying a foot up your ass = homophobic slur.
Er … they told me there would be no math in celebrity journalism.