Not to dwell on this story, but this whole Christian Bale thing got me thinking about a larger issue. I don’t consider myself a mean, spiteful person, and yet, when a juicy tidbit like this comes along, I have no qualms about seeking it out, enjoying it, and, if it’s entertaining, spreading the word about it.
I never really questioned the morality of this until one day, I was among some new friends and happened to bring up the unbridled comic genius of the the Pat O’Brien drunken sexual harassment phone messages (should be pretty easy to find online if you haven’t heard them. They’re quite funny). One of my new friends was not appreciative, as apparently he was good friends with O’Brien’s son and knew firsthand what a big mess it was for the family. Rough.
So…that was a little awkward. And it made me wonder if I should, I don’t know, maybe feel a little guilty for enjoying it so much (you could even say I went crazy for it). But then again…nah. I thought about this again last summer when was reading this fantastic New Yorker article on what a depressive Alec Baldwin is, where Baldwin bitches about, well, a lot of stuff, but mostly relevantly the leaked tape of angry message he left on his daughter’s voicemail. Now I like Alec Baldwin a lot , so it was a little bit of a bummer to realize that, by listening to the tape and chuckling when he calls his 10-year-old a “selfish little pig,” I am indirectly causing this wonderful man heartache.
I thought maybe from that point forward I’d try to stay above all this mess, and so, as I wrote yesterday, I gave Christian Bale the benefit of the doubt when I first heard about this latest debaucle. But then I listened, and you know what, it’s funny. Forget any moralizing about whether it was OK or not. I covered that yesterday. The only reason people are writing about it as much as they is because it’s really, really funny.
Look, I know this stuff isn’t a joke for the people involved. It sucks that when you’re famous, there are always people around to record your lowest moments and share them with the rest of the world. And I find the whole “comes with the territory” argument to be unfair, so I won’t try to justify why these celebrities somehow deserved this. They didn’t. But honestly, I’d be lying if I said that all this handwringing makes Christian Bale screaming “McG, you got something else to say to this prick?” any less hilarious. Allow me a belabored, possibly irrelevant metaphor.
Let’s say I show you a video of someone actually slipping on a banana peel. You would laugh, right? Of course you would. But then let’s say I tell you that the person, say, broke their face because of it. In that scenario, you’re supposed to feel bad for laughing. But why? Of course, nobody wants a broken face, but does that tragic end result really make it any less funny in the moment? Does that invalidate the natural instinct to laugh you felt upon initially seeing the fall? I think you know my answer to that question.
So I’m through feeling bad for finding this stuff funny. Don’t worry, Pat, Alec, and Christian – I’m not judging you. OK, maybe a little, but I’ll try not to. I’m sure you’re all nice guys. Pat, I hear secondhand that you’re a pretty cool dad. But, um, seriously…if that wasn’t you on that tape, you’d be laughing, right?