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 Of course, then I grew up and learned how stories should and could be told, and found some American media that wasn’t originally made for children that I enjoyed–and then I married a guy who basically majored in American pop culture, so I’ve been slowly dragged into the mainstream.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.