Jonah Hill’s only the latest star to show his true colors under duress.
Like Alec Baldwin before him, Hill called a celebrity photographer “faggot” while getting pestered and harassed on the streets; Hill also told the paparazzo to “suck my dick.” While Baldwin has denied he used the homophobic slur, claiming he said “fathead,” Hill owned up to his language, appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show and noting, “What I said in that moment was disgusting.”
Hill is evidently under a great deal of pressure; he’s now the sort of celebrity followed all day by fairly unpleasant photographers. But does the fact that the paparazzi are unsavory and mean allow for stars to dismiss them using the coarsest sort of anti-gay language? Hill, in a moment of stress, figured that the best way he could degrade and insult his harasser was an anti-gay slur.
That the actor apologized will mean this is unlikely to stick to him in any meaningful way going forward; oddly, Hill seems to have next-to-no public profile at all, positive or negative. Unlike, say, Baldwin, he’s not known for lashing out. The biggest previous scandal that attached itself to Hill, one that was quickly forgotten, was his public feud with openly gay CNN anchor Don Lemon when Hill allegedly snubbed Lemon in a hotel; though the whole thing was instigated by an erratic Lemon, Hill did call the anchor a “12-year-old girl.”
Also unlike Baldwin, Hill is at the very pinnacle of his career: He’s in the process of promoting”22 Jump Street,” a summer tentpole comedy, and is already a two-time Oscar nominee. These sort of scandals tend to evaporate quickly when a generally well-liked star is involved. But Hill, who said that the slur is “not part of my vernacular,” owes it at least to himself to be honest; this is an actor whose most recent film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” featured a lengthy gag in which a gay man was dangled over the edge of a skyscraper for laughs and whose comedy roles, from “Knocked Up” to “This Is the End,” are in movies largely fueled by gay panic. No wonder this is where his mind goes.