Who the hell is Ellen Barkin?


August 28, 2012 by Julia

As a geek, I’ve long prided myself in knowing absolutely nothing about mainstream American pop culture.  In middle school or so, I decided that almost everything we turn out here is garbage, so I ignored most of it and went on to discover Japanese media and pop culture, which is obviously awesome.  Of course, then I grew up and learned how stories should and could be told, and found some American media that wasn’t originally made for children that I enjoyed–and then I married a guy who basically majored in American pop culture, so I’ve been slowly dragged into the mainstream.  Now I actually know the names of musicians everyone else knows, and I even watch regular-people television shows, like America’s Next Top Model, Community, and The Boondocks (okay, maybe that one’s not mainstream, but it’s some of the best political commentary out there right now.  I strongly urge you to watch the first episode of season 3, “It’s a Black President, Huey Freeman,” which is a fake Werner Herzog documentary about the 2008 election).

That said, who the hell is Ellen Barkin?  Seriously.  I looked her up on IMDB when she first appeared on Twitchy, and I guess she was in movies or something, but I’ve never heard of any of them.  Apparently, however, she has decided to use her Twitter account as a platform to regale the world with how much she hates her fellow Americans.

So-called celebrities do not know more about public policy than anyone else (in fact, based on the evidence, they know signficiantly less).  Their entire significance is therefore built on their exposure to the public–i.e. they don’t know more than you or I, but their words reach more people.  This condition apparently gives them a sense of . . . responsibility, perhaps, to spread what they believe to be important information.  Unfortunately, living in the insulated world of Hollywood has obviously skewed their definition of importance, both of themselves and their message.

Which brings us to Ellen Barkin.  We all know retweets do not necessarily imply agreement (although on a personal note, I will not retweet anything with which I do not have some level of agreement–I don’t want anything linked to me if it does not represent me in some way), but for whatever reason, Ms. Barkin decided that retweeting a death wish against Republicans was a fantastic idea.  If she had appended a little note to it saying that wishing death upon those with whom one disagrees about politics is disgusting, this would be a non-story.  But nope, she just presented this other person’s creepy statement with no commentary.  Maybe she felt emboldened by Samuel L. Jackson, who knows?

At any rate, Ms. Barkin has emerged from obscurity to become a constant, hate-filled presence on Twitchy.  At first, I thought she was simply trying to get attention with shenanigans like making uninformed comments on the rants of confirmed misogynists–there’s no such thing as bad publicity and all.  But she seemed so angry and mean to people to whom (one would think) she would want to sell DVDs that I began to wonder . . . does she ACTUALLY believe this?

The matter was further mucked up when I saw a trailer for a new NBC comedy.  I can’t find the specific trailer online, so here is the show’s website.  You can watch all the trailers and clips you want to see what I’m talking about.  After seeing the trailer, though, I was like, a ha!  Now it makes sense!  Ms. Barkin must have developed these ridiculous ideas because she mistakenly believed that the (allegedly funny) lines written for her character actually represent the way conservatives talk!  She’s quite obviously incorrect, but finally, an explanation!

Oops, wait a minute here . . . if she has a new show that NBC very much wants to promote, why in the heck is NBC letting her run around and insult people?  I mean, I know there’s supposed to be no such thing as bad publicity, but is it REALLY considered good publicity for NBC to be all like, “Hey half the country!  Make sure to watch our show, which stars someone who hates you and wants you to drown!”?

So now I’m back to being confused.  This woman I’ve never heard of before wishes I would die in a hurricane, attacks moms, and engages in religious bigotry–and wants me to watch her show?  I think?  But maybe she doesn’t?  Hollywood truly must be a surreal place–I’m starting to remember why I once forswore American pop culture.


9 thoughts on “Who the hell is Ellen Barkin?

  1. Ish says:

    I’ve never been on-board with the “Shut up and sing.” idea espoused by Ann Coulter and the like… a celebrity has as much right to free speech and political rants as I do. Oh sure, even a D-list celebrity like Barkin — who hasn’t done much other than supporting roles in made-for-tv films in twenty years (Yeah, I had to look her up on Wikipeia) — is going to reach more people than me… but, I imagine 90% of the public’s reaction to this was the same as ours: Who the hell is this person?

    Samuel L. Jackson made an ass of himself… but, I still respect his skill as an actor, I still love his unique mixture of bad-ass bravado and self-effacing humor in most roles, and his very deep emotional style in his more dramatic, less bombastic movies. Jackson has the chops, essentially, to make we willing to see his movies even after he made an ass of himself on the internet. George Clooney, Stephen Speilberg, Rob Reiner, and Denis Hoffman (to name a few) are all major Democratic Party donors, activists, and talking heads… but, they are damn good at making movies… they have the “political capital,” as it were, to be leftists and still get me to see their flicks. I find Tom Cruise to be pretty bland — most of his movies are “So Okay It’s Average” incarnate — so when he goes on a Scientology tear in public, it sours me on his movies for a while, but eventually the lure of big explosions and cool car chases win me back.

    Sean Penn, on the other hand, makes shitty, shitty, shitty movies. When he says stupid left wing crap, it only serves to add more incentive for me to avoid his crappy movies… and his crappy movies make me wonder why anyone cares about his crappy political rants. A complete No Name like Barkin? What the fuck does she think she stands to gain from this?

    I’m not going to tell any celebrity to “Shut up and sing,” but they really ought to consider being good at the singing if they want me to keep listening to the songs after they start spouting off about politics.

  2. Tam says:

    I quasi-sort-of see where the “shut up and sing” thing comes from, when noted biochemist Meryl Streep is invited to testify before Congress about the dangers of Alar in apples…

    • Ish says:

      I get where you’re coming from, Tam. But I can’t hold it against Streep for two reasons (1) her movies tend to be just too damn good for my ill will against her politics to make me want to boycott, and (2) she’s got an opinion and is welcome to it… Now, whatever head-in-rectum Congressman thought she should be called on… well, there’s the idiot that needs to stop practicing politics and go back to community theatre.

      • Julia says:

        The point is that these people who have found success (or, at least, media exposure) through celebrity believe that attention from the media, paparazzi, or fans through the country somehow confers more importance onto their speech. Actually, their speech is, just like everyone else’s, important to the extent that they are knowledgeable about the issue and contribute something of value to the national conversation. Very few celebrities are educated enough about anything to really weigh in meaningfully. I would listen to what Meryl Streep and Ellen Barkin have to say about acting theory, or maybe behind-the-scenes gossip from a movie set, but their opinion on voter ID laws? I just don’t care.

        When I said that people may choose to avoid her show because she wants them to drown, I didn’t mean me. I actually like NBC’s comedies (I adore Community and 30 Rock (even with Alec Baldwin), I loved Outsourced, and I really enjoyed the pilot for Go On for this season), so her private rants on Twitter would not keep me from watching. HOWEVER, I in fact will not watch the New Normal, but it has nothing to do with Ellen Barkin’s free speech–the show just plain doesn’t look funny. Her character is clearly a straw(wo)man, included so we can all laugh at the ignorant, rich conservative. I couldn’t take more than five minutes of being insulted before I shut the tv off, so I’m just not watching. The problem isn’t Ellen Barkin as a person, it’s bad writing on the show itself.

  3. Julia says:

    Ish and Tam, you hit both sides of the issue–obviously EVERYONE has the right to speak (although we have the right not to listen as well), but someone’s speech does not have greater worth or importance just because they are a celebrity in an unrelated field. Meryl Streep has every right to have an opinion on Alar, but her opinion is less important than that of someone who actually has a Ph.D. Ellen Barkin can spew all the hate she wants and I would never take that right away from her (seriously, PLEASE show the world how unhinged the left is), but her opinion doesn’t matter to me at all, and she has to be willing to accept the consequences (namely, that people may forego her show, and it may end up getting cancelled).

  4. Temnota says:

    Coming as I do from a theater and film background, I more or less tune actors out. They are not always the most well-adjusted personalities in the crowd, and getting attention is what they do for a living. Below-the-line types like me just pray they will behave long enough to get the shot in the can, and refrain from getting arrested/hospitalized/bizarre hairstyles/breast implants until after reshoots and pickups are completed and the editors have locked the picture.

    As to why the network lets her get away with it, harder to say, unless they don’t think the word will travel far enough to affect their ratings (and they might be right, it’s a pretty select group who give a damn about Ellen Barkin’s Twitter feed).

  5. […] Ellen Barkin and her hate-filled rants . . . Ronald Reagan showed us that entertainers are in fact capable of inspiring a nation to […]

  6. Kalvan says:

    I first saw Ellen Barkers as Penny Priddy, the girlfriend of Buckaroo Banzai in “Buckaroo Banzai” back in the mid-80’s (worth seeing for Lithgow’s performance alone BTW). Apparently the process of bringing her back to life at the end of the flick was imperfect.

  7. […] Breda, who posted this a few days ago, but I only just now had time to share it. Our good friend, Ellen Barkin, shares the opinion common to many who oppose the right to self-defense that the Second Amendment […]

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