Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Alec Baldwin School of Anger Management

Alec Baldwin Channels His Inner Stanley Kowalski

If you haven’t heard Alec Baldwin’s no doubt regrettable private, angry phone message to his daughter yet, here it is:

This was some bad shit. Hell-to-pay-city kind of stuff.

His Bad.

I believe that Alec is not alone in his feelings of helplessness as millions of divorced men around the country are hauled into court for similar asinine bouts of uncontrollable behavior that leave the rest of us men and women wondering: what prompts some men to behave this way and what can we as a society do to discourage it and promote civility and understanding in these difficult situations? A little background and consciousness raising awareness first is in order, as I propose the Alec Baldwin School of Anger Management.

Talented and versatile actor Alec Baldwin is currently enjoying the success of his starring role on the hit TV Show “Thirty Rock”, and is one of only a handful of leading men who can powerfully and successfully cross the divide between drama and comedy. Known for convincingly playing explosive characters, in particular mobsters and hucksters – the New Yorker never fails to disappoint when it comes to channeling a character’s inner core of truth --- which any actor will tell you is the Holy Grail of good acting. No one can accuse Baldwin of not delivering on getting to the core of truth in his characters, and Alec Baldwin’s got the goods here.

To this day, this is my favorite performance from Alec Baldwin in his 1992 Tony nominated role as Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire. Bar none.

For anyone who didn’t have the chance to see Alec Baldwin and Jessica Lange star in the Broadway 1992 stage production of Streetcar Named Desire at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, you missed one hell of a live performance by Alec Baldwin playing Stanley Kowalski, who internalized the character so unbelievably well in an almost “funny, post-adolescent bowling buddy way.” Bellowing at Blanch Dubois (Jessica Lange) after she has taunted him one too many times for being a “Polack," Baldwin metamorphosed into Kowalski’s sweaty, blue collared “baffled beast”, where he later “deposits himself in a sobbing heap at the bottom of a tenement's towering stairs.”

Not unlike the now infamous cell phone message to his daughter, Alec Baldwin has found an unwelcome parallel with the fictional Kowalski’s anger management issues with his public apology for his inexcusable cell phone message. And yet, what all good dramas share in common is the pursuit of love: the catalyst of seeking love and affiliation at any and all costs, often without rhyme or reason.

But what kind of personal pressure prompts a man like Baldwin to uncontrollably rant like this? During the heat of what has been described as a “War of the Roses on steroids” style of a years long post divorce custody battle between Basinger and Baldwin, this private cell phone message leaked to TMZ reveals just how unbelievably frustrated, humiliated and truly helpless he had to feel (however inexcusable the wording and the tone) to have left such a disturbing message for his daughter.

Double standard? Do we as a society hold men to a tough guy, football hero, and grid-iron standard of never allowing them to melt down under pressure, like women so often do? One certainty is that for the millions of average, non celebrity divorced fathers across the country facing similar painful struggles with their former spouses who are trying to incorporate their kids into their lives while they are expected to be the “big breadwinners”, rants like Baldwin’s are not uncommon. Are men actually allowed to experience helpless and angry feelings and yet never, ever breakdown under personal pressures? I’m not talking about hitting someone over the head with a baseball bat here, but of pure and regrettable, childish out of control verbal ranting?

If the release of this phone message demonstrates anything positive, let it shine a light on the extent to which our society’s expectations of men’s expression of helplessness is taboo and that they too, like women, can say “it’s ok” to talk about it and to learn from mistaken outbursts. And like all divorced families across the country, any events leading up to such rants like these are private, nuanced affairs for these families to constructively work out with the help of professionals who can teach productive, non-hurtful communication skills.

This is why I implore Alec Baldwin to learn and grow from this lesson by partnering with Naomi Campbell to open up a chain of the ALEC BLADWIN SCHOOL OF ANGER MANAGEMENT franchises across the country, and let the healing begin.



alex said...

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ...

Anonymous said...

If I were Alec's daughter, I would never speak to him again. But who really knows what kind of relationship he has had with her in the first place. I have seen some pretty weird interactions with my own daughter's friends and parents on her soccer team that makes me think my husband and I are
Ward and June Cleaver.

soma said...

How do you say "I am sorry" to your child for calling them a pig?
How can the child ever trust a parent who would say something like that? I wonder if this is the first time he has said stuff like this.

Anonymous said...

Baldwin needs to go to anger managment class all right. He is an arrogant fuck but the anger school idea would be a great way for him to jack up his image after this.

zg said...

great post. there is too much emphasis on what he did wrong and not on what he can do right to work on his problem with anger and parenting. as if no other parent has ever gone through an episode of infantile rage, although I can't say that I have ever heard of a dad calling their daughter a pig which is over the top.

mred said...

If he made the anger management centers non-profit status, could be interesting.

My wife and I have two small kids and would not expect hand outs from anger management centers if we acted like that. But if rich actors want to strt them and help others wh can't afford help, this is great. (Those places are mostly paid for with tax dollars from other folks who have their shit together.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah right, tootruthy.

Like somebody is going to take anger management lessons and phone etiquette tips from Alec??????

On second thought, that could be a riot (providing he got some therapy first...................:)

leeintexas said...

You sound like you feel sorry for him but you should be felling sorry for Kim and his daughter instead. If he can't control himself over the phone he does not deserve unsuperivised time with his daughter unless he gets help. your anger training suggestion for him is the least of what he could do.

Anonymous said...

When is 30Rock on? I hear its good.

lara237 said...

Listen to this recording and you hear Alec talking to Ireland as if he is the big brother who has very little control. Sounds like Kim controls her and what's the deal with arranged phone calls? Does he see her very rarely or what? He sounds more like a big brother on this tape. The real important thing is that she is comfortable with him and wants to be with him. If not, then he should just get remarried and have other kids.

Anonymous said...

you said if the release of this message demonstrates anything"positive" but it only shows how much of a two year old he is. if he decides to get anger therapy I guess that's better than not exposing his top drawer parenting skills and will make him get some help.

Eva said...

I have been divorced for ten years and it is hard to organize schedules but my ex and I make sure it happens. We also make sure we speak more calmly than we normally would since we already hate each other and know we have to put on "a good face." Alec snapped, and I have almost been there talking to my own child when he is with his dad. Sometimes you feel like they are against you and like you are a little kid trying to be heard.

Leaking that phone message was a wreckless thing for Basinger to do because it ivolves their child. They all need therapy.

marlonbrando said...

He ougthta be a contender for Anger Management School only with a gym and weight loss center too, around the back. I know about this.

KY said...

Could you see him teach an anger managmenet class?

"All right, you pigs, sit down and shut up and listen while I set your asses straight."

He'd get their attention. Could work.

se855 said...

Every time someone is separated or divorced, problems like this surface. Why do we now have to be treated with the details? Used to be that these personal matters were private so what is so, so very wrong with technology that it can not see it is a pox on Peoples Houses?