The Worst of Us
A Latent Reaction to Kevin Spacey
It’s been a little while since I’ve done this; there’s good reason, but that’s another story for another time. What’s happening? My last post was almost a month ago: October 16th, and it was a heavy one. I’m not sure if that post took the wind out of my sails, or if it was the outside factor of moving stress coming down the pike at me, but regardless, I’ve sat down at my desk multiple times over multiple weeks, hoping the thoughts and confidence needed to move forward would find me. They haven’t. Every thought I have to write about, I Google for—and typically I can always find a representation of my thoughts. My thoughts seem unneeded.
On other occasions, however, I allow the narcissist to crawl in and whisper into my ear that my friends look forward to this writing thing I do and yes, they may have heard these thoughts, but they haven’t heard my thoughts. To the keyboard! The biggest example I have of this for right now is Kevin Spacey. Since October 16th and the “Me Too” movement’s resurgence, Kevin Spacey has fallen from Mount Olympus.
In the last days of October, actor Anthony Rapp came forth with claims that Spacey made sexual advances on him when he was fourteen. Spacey chose to respond as such:
I had a few thoughts of this right off the bat. Here they are (in order of appearance):
1. Whoa, Kevin Spacey’s gay?
2. Wait, what?
3. Okay, so he didn’t call Rapp a liar. He apologized—kinda.
4. I guess that’s…
7. This is fucked up.
8. I’m focusing on the wrong things here.
9. This is fucked up.
10. Fuck, man.
Everyone has a go-to celebrity. Whether it’s an actor, musician, YouTube personality or whoever, there’s always a go to talking point when, conversationally, things reach the bottom of the barrel. Kevin Spacey was my go-to; he did a hilarious impression of Al Pacino on the Letterman Show a few years ago that's always good to make me laugh. When my ten-point list of thoughts started forming in my head, it was to the audio track of that impression video. It became sullied—dirtied. The fond memories of Baby Driver that were swirling in my head from just days before went sour, and that one pissed me off. Baby Driver was one of the best movies in the past five years and now it doesn’t exist.
A list began to grow in my head, all the great movies I’ll never be able to watch again because of this grease ball’s actions. And then, I stopped. I realized that Kevin Spacey isn’t the only name in the BuzzFeed article, and I realized that only about 40% of the people reading the story along will me won’t realize they’re doing this too.
We have an innate reaction as humans to immediately internalize bad news and scenarios. When we hear someone has cancer, the mind drifts to “how would I deal with that situation?” When we hear about someone dying in a car accident, we imagine how shitty it would be to die like that, and then we move on to imaging how it would feel if it was our family. Personally, when I hear about people around me committing suicide, my first thought is “now that is a work ethic I do not have.”
We internalize how the bad news affects us, rather than what the bad news means. Anthony Rapp comes forward and says this, and we lament the loss of our favorite movies. We don’t ask Rapp if he’s okay. “We” in this case, applies to our faceless doppelgangers that live online in place of our real selves; the self-congratulating lit-faced drones yelling silently into echo chambers and calling it “progress” on both sides.
We have a primal need for things to be simple: black and white. It’s why religion appeals to some of us on a fundamental level, it’s why the two-party system felt like a good idea, it’s why Superhero movies reign supreme, it’s why both Romeo and Juliet are dead. But, life isn’t black and white. Life reflects the people living it, and if you mixed us all together—a hodgepodge of seven billion strong—our skin would be caramel, and our values would be grey.
This entire ordeal is a test for our culture. We’ve ignored Miles Davis’ past because of the ground he broke—same goes for Chuck Berry. Kevin Spacey and the rest of these men are people who have been labeled “great” and “darling” by us, but their past actions are reprehensible and indefensible, creating a conflict in the culture when we try to consider the body of work.
On this note, I have to ask:
I haven’t even gotten to my reaction of the “I’m gay” defence in the face of pedophilic accusations, but I’m not there yet. Let’s talk about the first part of his “apology.”
He dismisses the accusation in a way I’ve seen before. This is the “progressive liberal male” response to accusations from a female. The answer involves an apology, blame displacement and a lack of memory, all leading to a general lack of accountability. Let’s take the racism charge against David Cross from Charlyne Yi. (Picture time!)
When asked about it, Cross initially responded on Twitter like this (he posted screenshots of notes from his phone):
Then, after reflecting on the situation, he posted this two-part follow up.
I've copied the notes exactly how they appear in his tweets, there's no expansion to the second part, leaving that first sentence up for interpretation.
If he, like he said, had it figured out, he wouldn't have posted all of those words. Sometimes all you need to, or should say, “I fucked up. I was shitty—I’ll try not to be shitty in the future.” While Cross says he’s not a racist or a bully in real life, he’s only telling a half truth. He has a back catalogue of racist characters (whether or not ironic racism is acceptable or not is another topic all together), yes, but he also has a back catalogue of characters that sorely miss the mark when it comes to representation.
This is from a sketch called The Five Voices from Mr. Show, and that’s Paul F. Tompkins playing an Asian business man. Add prosthetic teeth and glasses, and it’s Mickey fucking Rooney. Now, I don’t believe either of these guys harbour any sort of prejudice, but it happened. It was the thing; “It’s the 90s!” So when a woman like Charlene Yi says the things she did, and Cross comes back with the excuse “it was a character,” the conversation should immediately become “why don’t you know not to do characters in social situations?” It’s racist behaviour, perpetrated by non-racist individuals. I’ll let the philosophers ponder whether or not that actually means they’re racist or not.
Kevin Spacey’s apology to Rapp was similar, but instead of a character, he blamed alcohol. Neither of them had a full memory, because that’s what men in power do—whether it be the power of a man with more stature in the same field, or even just the power of an older man (Spacey would have been twenty-six at the time, twelve years Rapp’s senior). Neither Spacey nor Cross needed to remember those situations, because it’s just what they do.
To really appreciate my disgust in Kevin Spacey, I need to explain two things: puppets and my sexuality.
Before I moved to Edmonton, I was building puppets, learning to be a puppeteer and making YouTube videos with said puppets. My love stemmed from the Muppets and, by extension, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street and anything else Jim Henson did, really. It was something I was proud of, because for the first time in my life, I could make something no one else I knew could. I could do something no one else could.
I worked at an electrical wholesaler with some pretty good people, but there were always some sticks in the mud. One of my managers was of the opinion that I used the puppets as lure for children. It wasn’t an uncommon thing for people to say to me, I guess for some reason, people assume you’re some sort of pervert for loving puppets. And not the fun type of pervert, either.
When I eventually moved, the people who thought it were cool were few and far between. Almost everyone I told about it applied the pedophile label to me, to the point where I eventually stopped talking about it—and eventually stopped doing it. No one should ever have to explain that they’re not sexually attracted to children while justifying something you love to do. Never justify what you love to do.
The gay community has struggled with the pedophile label for decades and all Kevin Spacey did was give the ignorant more ammo. Hiding under the rainbow in any respect is complete horseshit, and those who chose to weaponize stigmas and stereotypes to avoid blame are the worst of us. Kevin Spacey spit in the face of the community he has secretly been living in, how is anyone supposed to trust him at all anymore?
If you’ve read a few of my blogs, you might remember the one where I came out as queer. As someone who came out in the forty-seventh paragraph in a seven-thousand-word blog post, I have to say I can applaud the courage of someone who tackles it head-on (Christ, I still don’t know if my mom knows), but I think Billy Eichner said it best:
Fuck you, Spacey.