I've been watching Alec Baldwin's sad and public, rage-filled meltdown every morning on the news while my family and I get ready for the day ahead. I'd like to think that if you knew him personally he'd come across a pretty good guy. Most likely 180 degrees from his unfortunate public persona and someone you actually might like to have a beer with. In reality I don't think there's even a remote chance that this is true.
Mr. Baldwin just wrote a piece on this very website addressing some of the recent madness that engulfs him so frequently. What he does not seem to understand -- and is apparent to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention -- is that what he is experiencing is born from his own unfortunate anger and inability to just walk away.
Mr. Baldwin notes in his piece that, "This country's obsession with the private lives of famous people is tragic."
I can't say that I agree with this melodramatic, self-pitying and inaccurate statement. I think I can safely report that the vast majority of we non-celebrities are far from obsessed with the private lives of sit-com stars and pitch-men. And, although surely there must be regular folk that are, indeed, interested if not obsessed, I don't see anything tragic about it. Let's save the word tragedy for something more serious than a public person's extreme irritability. I'm afraid that if, like Mr. Baldwin, one is fabulously successful in the business we call Show, there is going to be some ancillary attention like it or not.
I think it's reasonable to believe that most people would have little knowledge or interest in Mr. Baldwin's personal life if he wasn't seen on television, the web and tabloid newspapers constantly perpetuating the same ridiculous scenario. I'm sorry but when you see a famous person angrily losing their mind so regularly in public it is impossible to not consider what else may be going on in their life. I'm sure these photographers are pests, to say the least, but in reality they are just doing their jobs.
There are other wildly successful comedic actors that are famous and I literally have no idea what is going on in their personal lives. Is Steve Carrell married? Maybe. What about Baldwin co-star Tina Fey? Doesn't she live in New York City too? I have no idea what her personal situation is and, amazingly, I've yet to see her chasing down the paparazzi while wildly screaming like a maniac and intimating the potential for physical violence upon another person. Doesn't Jerry Seinfeld live on the Upper West Side just like in his sit-com? Why isn't he, and these other performers, on the news screaming at photographers in blind rage?
The answer is because they have chosen to have public careers yet keep their personal lives private.
Children often face situations that are pure in their simplicity. As parents we're faced with advising our kids how to handle these moments and usually the best bet is to keep it simple. My teenage son, when he was little, had a slightly older kid on the school bus who would incessantly hassle him. He had never experienced something like this and was understandably freaked out about how to proceed. My wife and I ultimately told him to firmly tell the bully to leave him alone and then otherwise ignore any provocation. In this instance the advice worked and the situation resolved itself. What I don't understand is why someone like Mr. Baldwin, a clearly intelligent and accomplished man, can't find a way to ignore the madness that he, in effect, has created. Or, at least, intensified to a disturbing level.
The lesson Mr. Baldwin probably should try to learn is the beauty of silence. It can be so difficult in life to keep one's damn mouth shut. I'm middle-aged and still learning this lesson constantly. However, you'd think that someone who has been famous for decades would have learned to just shut up and, despite all the wonderful and erudite thoughts they may possess, just walk away.
My impression is that Mr. Baldwin, like fellow nearly iconic New Yorker, Donald Trump is unable to hear something said about himself and simply not respond. With Mr. Trump it seems to be a compulsion that is a combination of insecurity and some kind of business plan. You know, get the name out there, no matter how trivial the subject and antagonist, and the Trump brand benefits one way or another. With Mr. Baldwin, who knows what he's thinking other than he is one pissed off cat, which is why his frequent melt-downs are so fascinating yet perplexing. I think he believes that his arduous journey from the town car to his front door is symbolic of something very wrong with America. I contend that it's nothing more than an unfortunate choice he's made to stubbornly fight something that has no meaning to anyone but himself.