How Many Kids (and who’s counting)?

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Since Sept. 2008 Arkansas’ first family of TLC, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, have been reality television royalty with their 17 18 19 Kids and Counting – a top rated network series following the exploits of the couple and their almost score (Note: Score=20) of God-fearing, home-schooled, fundamentalist born and bred brood of biological children.

Millions of people have been fascinated by the loves and lives of the Duggars as they continued to have children, their children began to have children (Note: Though all were married first) and all of these many, many children (Note #2: Presided over by two adults) made many, many, many more millions of dollars for everyone through the requisite cross-pollination of books, personal appearances and Lord knows what other kinds of entertainment industry vertical integration the law allows.

Bigger than Jesus

Bigger than Jesus

Well, the gravy train has now stopped and soon all they will be able to do is wipe their ASSES with those ASSETS. This is thanks not to any left wing, gay agenda but merely to the fact that the oldest of that near score of children, 27-year-old Josh Duggar, has admitted to molesting five underage girls when he was 14 and 15 years-old, including many of his own sisters.

Compounding the matter is that both his parents knew of his crimes but instead of sending him to therapy or seeking other type of medical or police intervention, they instead chose to have their son confess his crimes to a local state trooper friend who himself was subsequently sent away to prison on multiple counts of child pornography. Needless to say the family trooper friend never officially reported the crimes.   Instead, he gave Josh a talking to, Josh was sent away to work on a relative’s farm for a while and the family prayed a lot that all would be okay for everyone.

#preach

#preach

Though none of those prayers included any type of, well much of anything except more prayers for the under age women in question, they clearly did include requests to the powers-that-be above (or below) us that this would all stay quiet. That seems clear because their Duggar television show subsequently debuted, became a huge success and would continue to be so for quite some time to come. I mean, answered prayers would have to be the case because, well, I don’t know about you but, like all great things, the family’s TV success would seem to simply be a question of God’s will, right?

The Duggars believe a lot in God’s will. In fact, they credit God Himself (or, one supposes, Herself) for granting them fame and fortune by way of one of nature’s miracles – their second born of nineteen children. As they tell their story, back when Jim Bob and Michelle first were married they actually did practice birth control. But when Michelle conceived their second child despite being on The Pill and then miscarried said child, they realized they had actually interfered with God’s plan and decided to never again decide to second-guess the Lord by using modern medical science. The result? Well, you can see – 19 Kids and Counting. Though, as of several days ago, no more TV show.   Hmmm, you don’t suspect this time they started using condoms, do y..? Nahhhh…….

Look at these sinners

Look at these sinners

None of this explains how they managed to conceive Josh, who managed to sneak in as a planned pregnancy back when they believed in oral contraception and back when their use of The Pill was working as it should. Wait, you don’t suppose this was the reason for Josh’s predilection towards molestation, do you??? Could it be some sort of grand punishment for their legitimate use of…The Pill???? The mind reels.

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Incidentally, this would not be a gigantic leap of logical in the Rules According to Duggar. Aside from their opposition to birth control, just about last year at this time Michelle recorded statewide robo-calls urging voters to vote “no” on an Arkansas law intended to address discrimination against the LGBT community since it is one of dozens of states that do not include housing and discrimination protection in cases of sexual identity and gender discrimination.

Her exact words? Well, that passage of the law would allow males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls.”

Well, certainly one would not want to allow any male to improperly enter private areas reserved specifically for females, especially if they were young girls. Right??? That must be right since Mrs. Duggar, a local heroine if nothing else, won her crusade and saw the law voted down. Unless, um, maybe that was God’s will, too??

Josh Duggar, himself now the father of a five year-old daughter and two younger sons, with another unborn child along the way, was up until several days ago executive director of the Family Research Council’s Washington, DC legislative affiliate, FRC Action. In his post, #1 of 19 was responsible for lobbying lawmakers to advance the political and social agendas of the organization, which includes abstinence-only education, intelligent design, prayer in public schools and regulation of pornography and other obscene, indecent or profane programming on broadcast and cable television. It is also opposed to legalized abortion, stem-cell research and all forms of gambling.

You won't like him when he's angry

You won’t like him when he’s angry

The FRC is perhaps best known for its virulent opposition to same-sex marriage and gay adoption. FRC president Tony Perkins has publicly and repeatedly stated the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children and in the past the organization has gone so far as to say “one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the prophets of a new sexual order.” For these and many other statements excoriating the LGBT community and its rights, the Family Research Council was several years ago officially classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Regrets?

Regrets?

Regarding homosexuality, Josh Duggar himself was last year quoted as saying the LGBT community and its agenda wasa threat to children” and that his own lesbian aunt (his mother Michelle’s older sister) “chooses her lifestyle.”

There was a time in the previous century, 100 years ago to be exact, where a whole subculture of women in the U.S. freely made love with other women.   Not only that but some of these were Black women who smoked, drank and generally hung out as they occasionally dressed as the men did; and no one cared or even said much about it. Among the women in this enclave was one of the most famous blues singers who ever lived – Bessie Smith – and if you have a couple of hours, which you know you do, it might be worth your time to relive these very olden times and morals via the very wonderfully bold and impressionistic HBO film Bessie, starring Queen Latifah in the title role and Mo’Nique as her mentor, friend and fellow trailblazer, Ma Rainey. Both are superb in it.

Lessons in fabulousity

Lessons in fabulousity

But what’s even more incredible, at least in FRC and Duggar world, is that 100 years later these women are both lauded as creative legends and heirs to a new era where the idea of two women (or men for that matter) making love legally and within the protection of a marriage contract, if they so desire, has become the norm in more states than not – as has their ability to create, adopt or raise children if they so choose. One sort of wants to ask the Duggars if that, too, could be attributed to God’s will, or do they perhaps predict a Biblical October surprise along the lines of locusts and pestilence as retribution against such un-Christian, nee immoral, yet perfectly legal social activities.

Well, it’s all enough to make you want to send Josh Duggar not to jail for his admitted inexcusable behavior which he this week publicly apologized for but to Ireland where 60% of the citizenry voted to make themselves the first country in the world to totally and 100% legalize same sex marriage by popular vote.

Putting the Gae in Gaelic!

Putting the Gae in Gaelic!

He might see it as punishment and, okay I for one would oppose it. Because we all know that clearly Ireland will emerge as THE place to be for fun and frolic as this decade comes to a close.

As for the future of TLC and the Duggar brand –- God knows it doesn’t look good.

The Real Thing

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Can people substantially change who they are? Or do they, as they get older, just become more of who they are?

Mad Men – one of the best-written series ever on television – grappled with the question of change and identity via the lens of the American psyche throughout its eight-year,seven-season, run. So it seemed only fitting – and simultaneously both obvious and brilliant – that this would be the primary question it answered in its finale episode.

A television program can only do so much but for my money and time there has not ever been a show to so accurately yet obtusely capture how Americans think, change or refuse to budge as this one. We have taken a lot of heat as a country for being a bit self-obsessed just as we have also always been lauded for our sometimes unsolicited generosity of spirit to others when their or our backs are to the wall. Perhaps America as a bastion of freedom that will always lend a helping hand and open door to those less fortunate has taken a beating in recent years. But the idea of the U.S. – and the desire for there to be a place where people can live free and be who they really are regardless of what they may or may not really be, observe or come from – is a concept that seems to only grow with power as time goes on and the world grows more (yet seemingly less) connected.

Don Draper's 1960 utopia

Don Draper’s 1960 utopia

The reason Mad Men was so often able to address these questions so brilliantly is that series creator Matthew Weiner chose exactly the right decade – the 1960’s – to tackle them. There has not been, nor probably will there ever be in the future, a ten-year period with so great a shift in cultural, political and social mores. It saw an unprecedented period of sweeping changes in how we thought, felt, and even dressed. Free love, the peace movement, a relaxing of social conventions that caused us to become (Note: Sometimes kicking and screaming) more inclusive and less discriminatory against the marginalized or less fortunate? Well, five plus decades later some of it would last – for a while – until segments of the majority in power (Note: Did I say the 1980s? Oh, now I did) decided to take a few more steps backwards from that advancing direction. But then again, all of this societal stuff tends to be cyclical anyway if you look at the rise and fall of any the world’s great super powers. At least we – well, many of the most fortunate of us, that is – still have a few more choices now than we did back then.

When one says Mad Men was about the sixties let’s be clear about something – it was really about the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The decade we really think was the sixties didn’t actually begin until after John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Before that it was just the 1950s but with a more youthful glow. The 1960s then happened and took us through Vietnam, rock ’n roll, drugs and the search for love and that dirty term nowadays: self-actualization. But that ended after the 1968 assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, television bringing the atrocities of the Vietnam War home, and the unmasking of all of the rest of the American dream for every bit of the invented sham it always was. That, in essence, was where our slow recovery – meaning the 1970s – began and continues to this very day.

Don's reading materials

Don’s reading materials

None of this is meant as an insult to the American dream or to negate the fact that many beneficial aspects to it still do exist. But make no mistake – it was and is invented and made up. The very nature of all dreams is that they are NOT REAL. Which, on the other hand, makes them no less true (or potentially true) in some form. I tell this to my students in every writing class I’ve ever taught when they voice concerns that their stories are too contrived. Well, of course they’re contrived! I answer. All of this stuff is made up, even if it’s based on real life. The task is to make it not seem like it is – to somehow have it evoke reality. That was hard fought advice I gave to myself after decades of self-flagellation whenever I myself grew overly frustrated that nothing I ever wrote seemed real ENOUGH.

There is no main character – nee protagonist, nee anti-hero or hero, depending on how you want to see him – to dramatically travel so effectively in, around and through these issues as a man whose job it is to manufacture American dreams, wants and desires – meaning an American advertising man.

From the pilot episode

From the pilot episode

And what kind of ad guy – how about one whose entire personal identity is made up from the very beginning – both literally in Matt Weiner’s mind and figuratively in the character of Don Draper, a man who is really named something else he didn’t like or want to be and instead chose to assume the name and new life of a dead man. This is a guy who is so perfect looking, so talented, and so continuously successful in everything he does even when he is failing miserably – that he couldn’t be real. In fact, he couldn’t be anything more than the invention of some smart and savvy mind on Madison Avenue – which is what he is.

Don Draper’s journey from stud, to family man, to phony man, to rich man who remembers being a poor man, to rogue, alcoholic, reformed rogue with half a heart back to pseudo real, tortured American stripped bare at the end of the decade, seemed iconic and ironic enough. But it was only in the last episode this weekend, where the flawed yet somehow always enviable Don Draper took center stage alongside such other fictional American icons as Tony Soprano of The Sopranos, Walter White in Breaking Bad and even All in the Family’s Archie Bunker.

Television's (now) former leading men... casting long shadows

Television’s (now) former leading men… casting long shadows

It is giving nothing away (Note: Or perhaps it is so if you’re a stickler for these kind of things you might want to skip over the paragraph) to say that at his seemingly lowest point in the series Don decides not so much to change but to pull himself together the best he can and achieve what in his heart of hearts he’s always wanted – something uniquely his own and thus personally iconic.

But he does this not through the personal epiphany he has in the scene before when, in a burst of uncharacteristic, unguarded emotion, he is able to identify with and even hug a fellow lost male soul in a California encounter group when the man compares himself to an unchosen item in a refrigerator and laments that people “look right through you” and don’t see you. I mean in that moment you wonder if what Don feels is not so much kinship for a guy to whom he is essentially saying – that’s right, I feel the same way, they don’t see me either and I know how you feel – or whether as he’s hugging this poor shlub he is really saying – Listen bud, I AM the ideal, the guy you always think they see and who, in fact, they do see and always choose, and it’s no better on this side either. I don’t feel like anyone really knows me because I don’t know me, and let me tell you, just like you that feels like shit.

Sally gets it. Especially when she tells her father (in this season's "The Forecast"): "Anyone pays attention to you, and they always do, and you just ooze everywhere."

Sally gets it. Especially when she tells her father (in this season’s “The Forecast”): “Anyone pays attention to you, and they always do, and you just ooze everywhere.”

This would seem to be Don’s emotional catharsis and moment of self-actualization and perhaps it is in that moment. But like all heroes in very American art this hero has to take what he’s learned and apply it to real life. Or as they say via our take on modern dramatic film and TV writing, The Hero’s Journey — he needs to Return with the Elixir from whence he came and put his knowledge into practice in his own ordinary world.

Though we’ll never know for sure, it seems that Mr. Weiner’s (and Mad Men’s) answer to all this is NOT to have Don go home and become a better father, join the Peace Corp or set up a foundation for other lost souls less fortunate than he.

No – what happens is that during a subsequent day of mediation (complete with a joint OHM and all that entails) a literal bell goes off in Don’s head and he smiles – presumably with an idea.

Suffice it to say this is not a notion for how to achieve world peace or the beginnings of a cure for cancer. Though perhaps it is the ad man’s equivalent of that – a brilliant idea for a …Coke Commercial?

Say what you want about all of us as a culture, or as artists, but there is no idea too pure or life event too personal that we are above cannibalizing if we can turn it to our benefit into great art or at least a great business idea – though hopefully both.

Which I couldn’t help thinking about when Mr. Weiner revealed Mad Men’s final song and image – Don Draper’s last great idea. Cue one of the most famous television ads ever seen – a multi-cultural group of young people of different colors and nationalities atop a mountaintop having HIS Kumbaya moment but singing a song espousing the benefits and joys of us humans one day existing in perfect harmony as we each drink…our Coca-Colas.

You tell 'em, Rita!

You tell ’em, Rita!

Anyone who is of a certain age remembers I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke.  If not click here. First it was an ad jingle, then it was one of the first world videos, and then, and only then, was it re-recorded with new lyrics where it would become an…international hit record.

It was the beginning of another era – that of media cross-pollination, which would eventually give way to mass corporate ownership of the arts and vertical integration of all its divisions into a new world order.

Yes, we do have the Don Drapers of the world to thank for that.

But only THE Don Draper – and those who created him – to thank for seven seasons of appointment TV that, even in our current and vast media landscape, will sorely be missed.

Lawfully Wedded Chair

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Guess what? The Chair got married! After 28 years of being a “partner,” the Chair now takes on the title of “husband.” Below, both the Chair and the Chair’s husband explain why after all this time they made it official. Each wrote their blog entry in separate rooms without ANY INPUT OR EDITING from the other.  Judge for yourself whether these two people belong together. (Duh, of course they do!)

GAY MARRIED

Written by the Chair

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get married. But like James Mason once told Judy Garland in A Star Is Born – and I’m paraphrasing here – the trouble with some dreams is that they’re not big enough.

Referencing a Judy Garland movie is not the only reason I got gay married after almost 28 years with the same guy.   Still, it certainly feels apt. Especially for someone like me who has truly always believed that among the benefits of being gay was the fact that you a. didn’t have to get married and b. weren’t required to join the military.

Well, clearly I’m a dinosaur.

After much talk over the last few years about what the heck we were going to do about the marriage thing, as we called it, my guy and I decided to make it legal on May 5 in the upstairs room of our house, overlooking the cloudy L.A. skyline, in front of two witnesses listening to words said by a friend we work with who marries people in his spare time. It literally took less than five minutes. (almost as fast as the slideshow below)

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We had planned various incarnations – some bigger and some much bigger – of this event. But it quickly became apparent to each of us that there was no way to keep it sort of smallish and the bigger it got the more anxious we both felt. Thanks to another good friend who years ago had a big wedding she and her husband paid for by themselves, we decided instead last year to blow our wedding money on a two-week trip to Italy and consider it our illegal honeymoon. All I can say about that is – cash REALLY well spent.

Yet here we are 12 months later, still dragging our feet on the legal front.

What pushed me over the edge was buying a house and the part where they ask you how you want your title – single, domestic partners, married, blah, blah, blah. That followed several prior medical experiences over the years where forms and people asked what is your relationship to your sick spouse and you find yourself realizing that legally, well, you have none. Not to mention the endless questions asked by others that boil down to phrases like: So, when? Or What are you waiting for?

Me to everyone for years

Me to everyone for years

Truth be known I really do HATE the government or any part of the public sector involved in my life in any legal sense, but most especially when it comes to my love life. Is it because my parents were divorced – well, maybe? Could it be because as a gay person I realize how crazy the U.S. government can be when dealing with our issues and I didn’t want to give them the privilege of legislating our love in any way, good or bad, at all – absolutely?! Would another reason be that I found the whole thing tedious, tiresome, sort of corny and didn’t want to be bothered with it –MOST CERTAINLY AND DEFINITELY, ABSOLUTELY!

Please know this is not a put down to any married person out there, especially since I am now one of you. It was just never one of my dreams. Of course, neither was living outside of New York City or getting my driver’s license but somehow I learned to love navigating a convertible through the windy canyons and gridlocked roads of L.A.   Well as John Huston told Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, You may think you know what you’re dealing with but believe me you don’t… OR as Jack Nicholson told the world in A Few Good Men, You can’t handle the truth!

I think my sister, who served as one of our two witnesses, summed it up best when she told me point blank on my wedding day: You just hate doing anything where you think people are giving you permission. It makes you feel like somehow they’re telling you what to do and you hate being told what to do. In fact, you’ll do the opposite just to show them.

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Wow, how did she get so smart?

Does it feel different? Slightly but not much. I mean, it’s awkward to suddenly call someone your husband. As if something has changed. Nothing has really changed in our relationship. And I had finally gotten used to the word partner.

But each person we tell – relatives, friends, acquaintances, business associates, even strangers we have just met where it comes up in conversation – are absolutely thrilled. Seriously, you should see the smiles on their faces. It’s as if to say – we love you, we support you, we don’t know you but want to support you because we think the fact that marriage equality is even a question is ridiculous and we want you and every friend you have who faces this same issue to know that. My god, the last time I saw this many people so happy about something I’ve said or done is, well….NEVER. Not even my bar-mitzvah came close because truly, what person at a mortgage company or doctor’s office would really care???

Everyone has suddenly become this Kristen Wiig character

Everyone has suddenly become this Kristen Wiig character

Well, there is one last thing worth including but I guess I’m, as we’re all so often taught to do, saving the best for last. I got married because, well, I love my husband. Not to mention, I think anyone who has had the perseverance to spend almost 28 years with me deserves something official. Which is also why community property exists and why he can have a divorce any time he sees fit and take half, if not more, of everything I own.

Oh, don’t groan – he’s used to this from me. He loves me both for it and in spite of it. Though no, he didn’t marry me for it. And yes, that’s from Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which the playwright has always said is NOT about a gay couple but well, may as well be and certainly will be at some point generations after Mr. Albee dies – if for no other reason than the normality of marriage equality. Which I guess is, in itself, reason enough to get hitched.

Yes, there are other reasons. Many, in fact. But those are between me and my guy. I mean…husband. Wow. Make that, double wow.

 

WHY I (THINK) I GOT MARRIED

Written by The Chair’s Husband

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Since the day back in August of 1978 when I realized I am gay (I think it was on a Saturday), I realized there were three things I would no longer have to worry about in my lifetime. While some gay men at the time thought of these as drawbacks to not being a member of the heterosexual majority, I always thought of them as advantages (let’s call them “perks”). My list of things “I don’t have to do” included:

  1. Serve in the military. When I had to register for the Selective Service in 1980 in order to receive my government-issued college loan, I wrote “Conscientious Objector” on the form. I wanted to write: “I’m gay, suckers.”
  2. Get married.
  3. Have children.

#1 is no longer an issue (yes, I did pay back my loans).

#3 would take an act of divine intervention, which means it’s NEVER going to happen.

As for #2, well, on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at approximately 5:25 p.m. (PT) in a very private ceremony in our upstairs media room, I removed Get Married from my list and uttered, “I do” to the man I love.

Ever since San Francisco starting issuing marriage licenses in 2004, we were each asked separately and together, “So when are you getting married?”

Neither of us ever had a “straight” answer to that question, because we weren’t entirely sure if we actually wanted and/or needed to get married.

Oh is that not polite?

Oh is that not polite?

It’s not that I’m anti-marriage (some of my best friends are married), but I always thought no matter where you happen to fall on the Kinsey Scale, getting married should be a choice, and, if you decide to get married, it should be for the right reason(s).

I realized immediately after the moment I said “I do,” I was overthinking this whole thing. It’s actually quite simple. We got married because we love each other.

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I don’t need the State of California’s blessing. Or even a license from the City of Los Angeles (which took 30 minutes on a line to get to a window next to the window where you took care of unpaid parking tickets).

I think the fact I am married is really going to hit me the next time someone hands me a form to fill out and it asks me to check my marital status. Now I can check “married.” I am no longer a Conscientious Objector.

Downey Soft

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According to a recent statement by the brilliant actor Robert Downey Jr., running a professional film production means, among other things:

  • Making sure your star actor doesn’t have to work on his birthday or anywhere near a holiday
  • Never having to sacrifice to or even think about the demands of a tight budget, and
  • Not requiring or even asking an above-the-title guy like himself to do even less than a weeks worth of press interviews around the time of release in order to sell the film

Well, what do you want for $20-$30 million plus dollar one gross percentage per movie?

Found in RDJ's bathroom

Found in RDJ’s bathroom

To be fair, Mr. Downey stated this to Entertainment Weekly a few days ago on a press tour to promote the mega-budget studio film The Avengers: Age of Ultron and was specifically speaking about why he has absolutely no desire to ever again do a $500,000 budgeted indie film – or presumably even one for under $5,000,000.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to say how absolutely disappointing it is to hear this. Not to mention obnoxious.

For my money, Mr. Downey is truly the best of the best in his age group and has been so for a very long time. Of course, now that he is part of several superhero franchises as our Iron Man and our Sherlock Holmes he seems to use about .01% of his vast reserve of talent. Still, even that is perfectly legitimate. Heck, if any one of us were being offered that kind of f-k-off money for six months of work in middle age you’d better believe the vast majority of us would take it. Not to mention, the Ironman films especially and The Avengers films to some extent are mass entertaining in large part due to Mr. Downey’s talents and – well – a man or a woman (Note: Where are all the solo FEMALE superhero movies???) deserves to be (properly?) rewarded when they can so effectively elevate sequel after sequel far above the very low bar for even escapist movie fare these days.

He said it.

He said it.

Nevertheless, judge for yourself. Here is exactly what was recently said by one of my all time favorite film guys AND the one famous actor I have repeatedly opted for over the years when asked the ubiquitous question: If you were allowed to have _____ with any famous movie star without retribution who would it be?

EW: Do you ever have a craving after making one of these (“Avengers”) to make like a $500,000 budgeted indie movie?

RDJ: No.

(Nervous chuckles all around)

EW: Why?

RDJ: Because they’re exhausting and sometimes they suck and then you just go, “What was I thinking?” But I’m interested in doing all different kinds of movies. Sometimes the little movies are the ones that wind up taking the most out of you because they’re like, “Hey, man, we’re just running a couple of days behind. Do you think you can stay through your birthday and then come back on the Fourth of July? And, by the way, but, like, the crew — can you pay for the craft services? And, oh, by the way, man, when we go to Sundance, it’s like, can we just sit you in a chair and you can sell this for six days in a row so that we’ll make 180 bucks when it opens in one theater? God, this is so powerful what we’re doing. What do you think of the movie? You saw it last night?”

“I thought it’s mediocre.”

“Yeah, isn’t it the greatest?! Man, everyone’s an artist here.”

“Actually, most of you are kind of inexperienced and lame.”

Well, guess what, RDJ. I think you’re kind of lame. But this seems apt. Because in my experience when you build up someone you have fantasized about being with but truly don’t know all that well for too long, the truth of that person is almost always a disappointment.

You tell em, Joaquin

You tell em, Joaquin

Say what you want about Matthew McConaughey and his Oscar-winning performance in the movie Dallas Buyers Club, which was made for about 12 cents, or perhaps proclaim you didn’t get Gods and Monsters, which won a best screenplay Oscar 17 years ago, starred Ian McKellan and was shot in under 30 days for the 1988 equivalent of 12 cents – each of them would NEVER have gotten made without some name talent attached. Nor would Mr. Downey’s career, which was sadly interrupted due to a long-term jail sentence as a result of drug addiction, even been resurrected were it not for the willingness of smaller films and bigger names to take a chance on him, vouch for his reliability and hope upon hope he could once again deliver the sparks of genius he previously showed in films like Chaplin, Natural Born Killers and yes, Less Than Zero.

How quickly we all forget.

I don’t know Mr. Downey so I can’t pretend to understand what’s going on in his head these days. Maybe he’s just tired. Or perhaps he really wasn’t the guy I thought he was. (Note: Perhaps?). But there’s a larger issue here and that is the willingness of many of us, including myself at times, to take the easier or at least more financially profitable way out when given the chance.

Next RDJ stars as the Monopoly Man in the big screen adaptation of the Parker Brothers boardgame #itcouldhappen

Next RDJ stars as the Monopoly Man in the big screen adaptation of the Parker Brothers boardgame #itcouldhappen

We live in a capitalist society and with worldwide economic uncertainty there is clearly something to be said for making as much money as one can in order to ensure a secure life for yourself and your family when times take their next inevitable downturn. But how much is enough and when does one begin to sacrifice other essentials in the name of what one considers financial and familial peace of mind? That, one supposes, is a matter of opinion and certainly an area where we are all at some point more than likely going to get tripped up on since there is no easy answer.

Nowhere is this question more unclear than it is in the entertainment business. One man’s artistic endeavor is another man’s lameness. And another man’s lameness can, in part, be caused by his lack of artistic chance-taking, cushy private jets and lack of empathy for those trying yet sometimes not succeeding at delivering a small piece of humanity to less than 3000 movie screens per weekend across the country.

Hey Robert... remember when I was Batman?

Hey Robert… remember when I was Batman?

Fill in movies like Sherlock Holmes 1 & 2, Ironman 2 & 3 wherever you see fit in any or all of the above categories. And then consider where you’d put The Judge. Lord knows I wouldn’t begin to direct you into deciding just how lame they are or are not. I will also stay away from including The Avengers, which I rather liked, and the latest Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I have not yet seen, in either category. And that’s not only because my students would kill me or that I believe Joss Whedon is a really cool and talented guy.

What I have also entirely avoided here is another press incident with Mr. Downey the week before when he walked out mid-interview because he didn’t like the line of questioning a British reporter was serving up about his past drug addiction and whether or not he was still haunted by those “demons.” This is always dicey territory for a journalist whose job it is to ask the tough, relevant questions, and the subject whose option it is to not answer or walk out on questions he doesn’t want to respond to or deems irrelevant.

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I chose to give Mr. Downey the benefit of the doubt when he chose to leave, even though his on-air excuse was – “what are we doing here” and “are(n’t) we promoting a movie?” Well, uh, no RDJ – you are doing an interview with a journalist whose job it is to be a reporter, not your publicist. Still, it’s fair not to have to delve back down into the depths of an uncomfortable subject that you don’t believe is pertinent to the news at hand and, as always, you have every right to make an abrupt exit.

However, what seems quite unfair is to snidely look down from your now very, very high pile of money, access and – there’s no other way to say it… privilege – and make snide, cutting remarks about people who are doing their very best to tell the stories that places like Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, Fox, Sony and Walt Disney Studios have no desire to tell anymore. One could also say it’s behavior unbecoming not only a superhero but any actor who has ever successfully played one.

And, finally, the very definition of LAME.