There are a lot of things to do on Sunday nights these days. For example, there is a lot of really good television happening right now. Or, even if you’re not a True Detective-fan or a Girls-lover, there is certainly a lot of really talked about television going on right now, so you might as well hate-watch if you don’t care to just watch-watch, so that you’re better able to join in the conversation about the show, because culture. But there’s another thing that’s been happening a lot lately on Sunday nights, and that is the release of celebrity open letters. And what better way do we have to learn about
our gods celebrities than through their own words? None. None that I can think of anyway.
The latest entry in this finest of traditions is an essay by none other than noted shrinking violet Alec Baldwin, who has now declared—once and for all!—that he wants the public to stop paying attention to him! First, you know, read his open letter in which he says goodbye to public life, but then just leave him alone once and for all! Well, maybe follow him on twitter or on Instagram, where his bio begs, “Get over me…” And don’t forget to follow his wife, Hilaria, on Instagram, where she posts countless photos of herself, her husband, and their young daughter. But then, you know, stop paying attention to them! They can’t take it any more. It’s too much!
I’ll spare you the trouble of reading through the whole 5,000 word essay, because, well, it’s so self-serving and rant-y that it’s practically impossible to get through without skimming out of embarrassment for Baldwin and for yourself for having enjoyed him so much on 30 Rock. (Baldwin is no Joan Didion. He isn’t even a Moby.) But the gist of Baldwin’s piece is that he just can’t take living in the public eye anymore in general, and New York specifically, and so he and his family are probably decamping for Los Angeles. Oh, Brooklyn is fine, naturally (“the soul of New York has moved to Brooklyn, where everything new and exciting seems to be”), but Baldwin just can’t stand being “Mr. Show Business” anymore. He can’t stand how New York has changed, and how people do such unnatural things now like tweet pictures of other people’s babies. Let the man Instagram his own pictures of his baby! Jesus. New Yorkers are such animals. Also terrible are Bill de Blasio (who Baldwin is pretty sure “gets his news from TMZ”), Rachel Maddow (who is “a phony who doesn’t have the same passion for the truth off-camera that she seems to have on the air”), the Huffington Post (“the other day, they had a thing on the home page about pimples…tripe”), and everyone at MSNBC .
Baldwin has so much hate for so many people and institutions and is so self-righteous that it’s easy to read this piece and get momentarily swept up in how terrible his writing is and forget the fact that, well, there’s a reason that Baldwin feels so persecuted, and that is because he’s a total dickhead. Lest we all think that Baldwin doesn’t own up to his own mistakes, he opens the essay with the admission that he…oh, wait. He doesn’t admit to making any mistakes except occasionally getting upset at paparazzi and saying a few indiscreet things. Things that then got perverted by Harvey Levin at TMZ and really all of the media, so that now Baldwin who, by his own admission is “awash in gays” (whatever that means!), has been labeled a homophobic bigot by everyone from Andrew Sullivan to Anderson Cooper to the rest of the members of the “Gay Department of Justice.” And this has made Baldwin have a shitty, shitty year! And so now he has to leave New York, because the Gay Department of Justice is headquartered here. Oh, didn’t you know? That’s why Baldwin has always been awash in gays. They, like, have their clubhouse here. It’s basically a conspiracy. Oh, Baldwin doesn’t say that explicitly, but it’s pretty clear that’s what he means when he talks about a Gay Department of Justice.
Baldwin is just the latest example of a person with an immense amount of power and a public platform who feels like he is being persecuted by the very people who once adulated him and so now he just can’t take it anymore. Where Baldwin used to be totally happy to interact with the public because he felt adored, now that the tide has shifted and people dislike him for the on-the-record shitty things he has said, he wants to escape. And how best to reject the public than by engaging it one last time with an open letter on an incredibly popular website? Not dissimilar to Baldwin’s onetime foe and current hero, Shia LaBeouf, Baldwin wants everyone to leave him alone but also can’t bear to think they will ever stop looking at him. This open letter is the journalistic equivalent of wearing a paper bag over your head at a film premiere, and just like with that stunt, it’s not that interesting. But even beyond that? It’s not art. So, yeah. Baldwin just wrote the greatest “Goodbye to All That” essay of all time. But not because it’s a great essay. And not because he’s a great actor. But because we’ve never wanted someone to actually leave New York as much as we want Baldwin to. Unfortunately, even he admits at the end of his essay that even though he claims this will be his last time saying anything in a public forum again, this is “admittedly, [just] how [he] feel[s] in February of 2014.” So, you know, things could change. And they probably will. Because for Baldwin, all the world’s a stage to act out his narcissistic personality disorder. Kim Basinger must be feeling pretty vindicated right about now.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen