The ballad of Piers and Alec

It’s been a rough year for both Alec Baldwin and Piers Morgan. Both suffered some pretty bad press and saw the demise of their talk shows. Baldwin got into some heated exchanges with the press and allegedly called a paparazzi photographer a “f*ggot” and a journalist hack a “toxic little queen.” His low-rated MSNBC talk show was pulled and he was canned. Then he and Shia LaBeouf got into a snit because the two couldn’t get along when rehearsing for a play on Broadway.

Morgan, on the other hand, got into some deep doodoo when he interviewed Janet Mock, who was out promoting a book about her life as a trans woman of color. The show was unfortunately packaged, sensationalizing Mock’s trans status, which resulted in Morgan and Mock trading barbs on Twitter. Morgan further compounded his problems by defending his behavior, digging his heels.

And now both Baldwin and Morgan view themselves as victims.

In a shockingly self-pitying open letter, Baldwin addressed his detractors and the public with a missive complaining about a host of people from Anderson Cooper to Rachel Maddow, all the while, painting himself out to be a hapless, target.

Morgan, on the other hand, complained bitterly about how the trans community bullied him (not seeing the rich irony of a wealthy, white, straight cisgendered man complaining of being bullied by a marginalized group), and when responding to the news of his show’s cancellation, he took on the mantle of a free speech activist cut down because his message wasn’t popular with American audiences.

Because Moran and Baldwin see themselves as victims highlights a blind spot that lots of sinning celebrities share – remember Paula Deen? Though she’s mounting a comeback now, her career disintegrated when revelations of racism came out: while the racism was bad enough, her refusal to acknowledge her role in the scandal and her perennial identification of victimhood showed just how tone-deaf she was – and both Baldwin and Morgan display similar self-centeredness.

What both gentlemen seem to misunderstand is that the public doesn’t think what they did was the worst thing in the world. And both men profess to be LGBT allies, which may explain why they seem to be so blind sided by the criticism. And even though we owe them at least the benefit of the doubt, how they react to the controversies matter. And at least in Baldwin’s case, writing a pissy letter (which includes an unfortunate reference to a transman as a “T*anny”) doesn’t help anything because in the end, he appears like a out-of-touch, spoiled prima donna.

I hope that both Baldwin and Morgan continue their careers. Well, I hope that Baldwin continues – I always enjoyed his work (I thought he was brilliant on 30 Rock). And even though I found Morgan to be a tabloidy schlockmeister, I don’t wish him ill, and know that he’ll find some sort of outlet for his blowhardness.

But they’re not there yet – because both men are still in the mind frame of “woe is I” their efforts to endear themselves to the public will be met with skepticism. If there is one thing I could say to them, it’s this: when you eff up, the best thing to do is to own up to it, apologize, listen to the criticism, and move on, promising you’ll do better…

 

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Filed under Celeb, commentary, Nonfiction, Television

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