I hate myself for loving you, Alec Baldwin

Why is the liberal who makes us laugh so awful?

Topics: Alec Baldwin, Shia LaBeouf, New York Post, 30 Rock, Paparazzi,

I hate myself for loving you, Alec Baldwin (Credit: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)

Did you ever fall in love with someone based on who you wished he or she was instead of basing that infatuation on actual, real-life behavior? Let me be more specific: Alec Baldwin, why do you make it so hard for us to defend you, when all we wanna do is love you?

Baldwin, as the guy we want to believe in, is a little bit of perfection. In his career, he’s gone from a heartbreakingly hot piece of Grade-A beefcake to Oscar-nominated leading man to iconic “Saturday Night Live” host to subversively brilliant, Emmy award-winning sitcom star – all while championing the causes of liberal politics and animal rights that make our knees go weak. Frankly, if all he had going for him were the ridiculous blue eyes and his deadpan delivery of the phrase “Schweddy balls,” he’d outrank roughly 80 percent of the planet on the coolness scale.

But then there’s that other Alec Baldwin. The hot-tempered, impulse-control-challenged goon whose antics make us cringe. And with the series finale of “30 Rock” firmly behind us, it’s that guy who’s been grabbing the spotlight lately.



Baldwin’s anger issues and poor word choices have long been part of the package. Fifteen years ago, he declared that in other circumstances, “We would stone Henry Hyde to death and we would go to their homes and we’d kill their wives and their children.” In 2007, he famously left an outraged voice mail for his then-11-year-old daughter, Ireland, in which he called her a “rude, thoughtless little pig,” referred to her mother, Kim Basinger, as a “thoughtless pain in the ass,” threatened to come out to California to “straighten you out” and seemed unclear on his own child’s age. Last year, Ireland damningly brushed off the infamous incident by saying, “He’s said stuff like that before just because he’s frustrated.” Just a dad calling his daughter a pig, no big thing. In 2011, Baldwin was booted from a flight for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends during takeoff, prompting a Twitter outburst in which he railed at the injustice of it all by complaining illiterately, “United shud hav app onboard where u can play WWF w other passengers. American shud have app where u read the new testament w flt attendants.” And last summer, he brawled with a New York Daily News photographer while he was getting his marriage license. But this week, he really out-Baldwined himself.

First there was an altercation with a New York Post reporter and photographer that was either a deliberate provocation by the Post or a racist hate crime by Baldwin. Photographer G.N. Miller says Baldwin called him a “coon,” a “crackhead” and a “drug dealer” when he tried to snap the actor coming out of his downtown apartment over the weekend. The New York police’s Hate Crimes Task Force is now investigating the charges. Baldwin, for his part, has filed a complaint against the photographer who he says “assaulted” him. A UPI report Tuesday said that sources who’d heard the audio of the encounter disputed that there’s any mention of those words on the reporter’s tape of the incident. And in the best TMZ correction in at least days, the gossip site amended its claim that Baldwin had said, “I want to choke you to death” to the reporter, to the assertion he’d in fact said, “I want you to choke to death.” Which, you’ve got to admit, is a somewhat less aggressive wish.

When he’s not frothing at the paparazzi like a Fox commentator thinking about feminism, Baldwin still somehow makes time to come off as a volatile character to work with. On Wednesday, the producers of the new Broadway play “Orphans” announced that Shia LaBeouf would be leaving the production, setting off the disclosure of a flurry of revealing emails from the show’s creative team – including notes from and about its hairy-chested costar. LaBeouf wasted no time posting a series of emails on his Twitter stream, including one in which the apparently exhausted director Daniel Sullivan writes, “Alec is who he is, you are who you are. You two are incompatible. I should have known it.” In another email, LaBeouf says that “a man can apologize, even if it’s just to end the bickering. Alec, I’m sorry for my part of a disagreeable situation” — a sentiment that seems to have come directly from a hilariously pretentious old Esquire list on how to be a man. One can only wonder if this means that Shia LaBeouf also knows how to cook eggs and when to use galvanized nails. A reply from a correspondent identified as “Alec,” meanwhile, reads likewise like an Esquire pearl of wisdom itself. “When the change comes, how do we handle it, whether it be good or bad?” he writes. “What do we learn? I don’t have an unkind word about you. You have my word.”

And that, in a nutshell, is our Alec. A jerk and a gentleman, sometimes in the same paragraph. Baldwin is a tremendously talented performer and a champion of the kind of causes that gets liberals hot and bothered. He’s strange and witty. He is also, no doubt, an easy target for the likes of the New York Post’s crack team of idiots with pointy sticks, who know they’ll always get a good show from the easily provoked thespian. He’s a man who can graciously say he doesn’t have an unkind word for his costar. But he’s also the big baby who will throw a tantrum over not being able to finish his Words With Friends game, who screams at little girls. He’s a philanthropist and a spoiled, raging jackass. He’s too good to leave, too bad to stay.

In an interview last year, Alaia Baldwin, daughter of Alec’s colorful brother Stephen, said, “No matter how much you think you understand a Baldwin, you really don’t unless you are one.” Maybe that’s as good as it gets with Baldwin. We love him; we hate him. We’re entertained by him; we’re grossed out by him. And if there’s one thing we’ll never, ever get a bead on, it’s understanding him.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>