Bret Easton Ellis Issues Wordy Non-Apology To Kathryn Bigelow

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Bret Easton Ellis is stepping back a bit from his campaign for Most Hated Guy of 2012 today with a lengthy and sincere (if still somewhat defensive?) explanation of, and apology for, his nasty Twitter comments about filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.

In a Daily Beast piece titled “Dear Kathryn Bigelow: Bret Easton Ellis Is Really Sorry,” Ellis walks us through some of the thinking that led to his tweets about Bigelow and his difficult journey towards realizing they were sexist and awful. It's really long, so I'll try to condense the main points:

-Bret Easton Ellis had not seen Zero Dark Thirty at the time he tweeted about it, but he had thought The Hurt Locker was just okay, so how good could it be, really?

-He had initially tweeted that he found The Hurt Locker interesting because it was made by a beautiful woman, but seemed like the kind of film a man would make, and nobody cared. (He does not explain what Bigelow's level of conventional attractiveness has to do with anything.)

-He justifies the following tweet:

“Kathryn Bigelow: Strange Days, K-19 The Widowmaker, Blue Steel, The Hurt Locker. Are we talking about visionary filmmaking or just OK junk?”

With the following explanation:

“Junk” is the writer’s exclamation point. It’s the writer’s Twitter flourish to a kind of dead sentence, filled with a list, and an echo of what bothered me about The Hurt Locker—because she was again being sold as the front-runner for perhaps her second directing Oscar with what looked like a very similar film.

Silly me, thinking “junk” was an insult when it's really just punctuation!

-He tries to separate his Twitter self from his real self, perhaps not realizing that his Twitter has his name on it and is written by him.

-He recalls wondering: “Was I really attacking a woman on Twitter? Had I been giving myself excuses all these years while locked in my Twitter cage of 140 characters? And did I have to finally admit that I went too far sometimes?”

-He finally realizes he's marginalized someone for something they can't help, and that it is indeed possible to do that even if one is gay (he guesses):

As someone who is not a white, male, heterosexual filmmaker, as someone who has felt like an outsider for things they couldn’t help, as someone who had been bullied for exactly those things he couldn’t help—I guess I should have known better.

-He made some excuses as to why the thing he says on Twitter should not be taken seriously (he's drunk when he tweets, he doesn't care about Twitter, etc.). He also claims that saying something sexist about someone on Twitter is not like saying it to someone's face, but does not explain the magical reasons why:

“I certainly never thought I’d feel the need to consider having to write a sentence about how the ‘marginalization of anyone for something they can’t help (gender, sexuality, race) is actually unacceptable to me and always has been…but in REAL LIFE NOT ON TWITTER!'”

-“I’ve taken a lot of hits in my career—they bounce off. The armor was built so long ago that I now assume everyone else in the public eye can handle it when they’re shot at.” He is right, Bigelow can handle it. The only person those tweets reflected poorly on was him.

-Finally, at the end of a four page article, he recognizes that some of the criticisms may have been right (even as he continues to make excuses for himself):

But the outcry over the Bigelow tweets was eye-opening to me in a way that nothing else has ever been. I got it. I heard it. I looked back at what I was doing with those tweets (quickly, unconsciously, hurriedly, drunkenly) and I have to admit they simply back-fired. Which is why I’m writing this. No one asked me to write this. I simply write something like this when I’m in pain. And I’ve been slowly feeling a painfulness when reading all of the articles reacting to those tweets.

-He expresses surprise over the fact that women who were not Kathryn Bigelow would react negatively when he said sexist things about Kathryn Bigelow. I'd say this seems a bit naive, but I can see how it would be difficult for him to envision a world in which people care about what is said and done to people other than themselves. (Especially when it's motivated by a social force that affects all women.)

-“Was there anyway to get my real thoughts and feelings through in 140 characters and in a coherent and intelligent manner? Or do 140 characters (or less) determine that what you’re trying to say is sometimes going to come off as shallow, or mean-spirited, or wrong?”

Maybe he should stick to longwinded Daily Beast articles.

-He vows to take a break from Twitter and finally see Kathryn Bigelow's new movie before he talks any more shit about it. (Which he does not say he won't do.)

Personally, I think Bret is making this way more complicated than it is. He accused a woman of only being recognized for her work because she is female and attractive, as well as accusing the Oscars of a kind of reverse sexism/affirmative action. (Which is laughable when you look at who has won over the years.) He got called out for being a sexist ass. And then he should have apologized. Straight up apologized, not this wounded “I'm sad that people are mad at me,” “the things I say on Twitter are not really being said by me” business. (Believe it or not, it's possible for gay men to say sexist things about women!) Then, and only then, would he be officially out of the running for Worst Dude of 2012. He's lucky he has so much competition this year.

(Via The Daily Beast)

Photo: Wikipedia