Bret Easton Ellis apologizes to Kathryn Bigelow for sexist tweets

After consulting several women, his mom included, Ellis now realizes that his Bigelow rant went "beyond douchiness"

Published December 18, 2012 9:45PM (EST)

  (Olga Besnard/Shutterstock)
(Olga Besnard/Shutterstock)

Prickly author Bret Easton Ellis issued a lengthy apology to "Zero Dark Thirty" director Kathryn Bigelow yesterday for his series of sexist tweets earlier this month, in which he said that "Kathryn Bigelow would be considered a mildly interesting filmmaker if she was a man but since she's a very hot woman she's really overrated." What he really meant to say at the time, according to his letter in The Daily Beast, was this: "I hadn’t seen 'Zero Dark Thirty' but thought, in the Twitter-moment, can it really be that good? Marc Boal and Kathryn Bigelow and another war film?" It was meant in the spirit of one oppressed minority to another, you see: "[The tweets] ultimately revealed a much more layered sexism that, I guess I thought as a gay man, I could get away with since my supposed vitriol about Bigelow was coming from another 'oppressed' class. But in 140 characters it didn’t land that way."

In his letter, Ellis seemed genuinely sorry that any of this happened. He regretted the comment, recognizing that it "goes beyond douchiness into another more insensitive realm." He recalled the press's attack on him as "swift and overwhelming." "It was by far the most sustained attack on anything I had tweeted about," he wrote.

He also explained that he doesn't take Twitter seriously (though perhaps after this, he should), usually tweeting off-the-cuff remarks "more often than not at night, after a couple of drinks or glasses of wine, sometimes even Blake Shelton blotto, and sometimes stone-cold sober":

So what does Twitter actually mean if that’s the way I go about it? How thought-out are my statements? How grounded are my opinions? How much does randomness and juvenilia and alcohol contribute to each tweet? Were the Kathryn Bigelow tweets really that bad given the context they were tweeted in? The idea that some people thought I was becoming a “shit-stirrer” was not only inaccurate, but failed to “get” the context of Twitter…

But what remains troubling about his half apology-half explanation is that it took the self-proclaimed "provocateur" several conversations with various females -- including his mother -- to understand how his remarks could be seen as sexist and offensive to women:

It wasn’t until the last week or so — after talking casually to a few women about the tweets, including a journalist doing a piece on me, that female producer, my mom — and reading the countless news articles about them which, no matter how hyperbolic they were, revealed to me an insensitivity on my part. And only then did I have My Twitter Moment…

In the aftermath, Ellis has decided to take a temporary break from Twitter. He promises to come back after having watched Bigelow's film, however, and says that he just may continue to "piss you off."

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Bret Easton Ellis Film Kathryn Bigelow Sexism Twitter Zero Dark Thirty