Friday, December 03, 2004

Memo to Stephen Baldwin: Please Go Away

I've got no beef with the Baldwins. Baldwins are from Long Island, I'm from Long Island. Alec -- a damned fine actor who makes some weird role-choices -- gives the best one-scene role I've ever watched in film in Glengary Glen Ross... "Get them to sign on the line that is dotted." Brilliant. Brother Billy went to Binghamton University and was reputed to have played rugby. I went to Bing U. and played rugby blah blah blah.

I'll skip Billy's movie career, because who wants to talk about Backdraft and Sliver? At least I think it was that one. There was one other brother, but I can't remember what, if anything, he's done off-hand.

Now, we come to little Stevie. Crazy Stephen.

He started out okay enough, and even gave a good-zany performance in The Usual Suspects, a classic modern gangster-who-done-it. (I can watch the Gimmee the keys scene again and again -- I just dig it). Then we segue to more forgettable roles, culminating in the disaster of Biodome, co-starring fellow plummeting "icon" Paulie "The Weazzz-le" Shore.

All forgivable enough. You win some, you lose some. Right?

Then we enter Stephen Baldwin the Not-So-Funny D-List Crazy Years. He begins to call into The Howard Stern Show so often that even Howard, who has five hours of live radio to kill every morning, can't put up with him. He reputedly attacked comedienne Kathy Griffin on the D-List free-for-all Celebrity Mole.

But this was all prelude to how he affected my life. Yes, he started showing up with irritating frequency on MSNBC, pushing some kind of thinly veiled religious conservative agenda. This was when my Urge-to-Jump-Out-A-Window-ometer perked up big time.

It began during the Democratic National Convention this summer. He appeared in an effort to advance his agenda for an administration guided by divine spirit, or wind, or something. It wasn't all that clear. He wouldn't openly support Bush, though he insisted on "slyly" intimating that fact over-and-over again. He grinned his odd-toothy grin at the camera. I wondered then why they would bother having a celebrity has-been on the air (I mean, Martin Sheen or even Alec Baldwin, okay, I can deal for a few minutes...) but it happened to be in the same midnight hour that Triumph the Comic Insult Dog made an appearance, so I figured, okay, it's garbage time, let's all move on.

But ever since, the guy has been appearing with alarming frequency. And then, tonight, as I flipped on the tube while I was putting my shoes on in preparation to go to the gym, there he was again on Scarborough Country under the banner of something like "Salvation Nation?"

Perhaps this goes back to an earlier post of mine, where I questioned the makeup of panels on many cable shows. Or maybe the people at MSNBC merely have their heads up their asses (I don't get CNN or Fox News these days, so I only have the cable peacock to rail against at present). In fact, that would make the most sense.

Speaking of Scarborough, Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media? and a lefty blogger and columnist in his own right, has successfully argued that he should join Scarborough Country in an effort to get some balance. Indeed, Joe Scarborough presents a far different face and can even be entertaining and occasionally incisive when paired with an independent/progressive presence. In fact, the better choice would be the amiable yet sharp Ron Reagan, who was himself a good reason to tune into MSNBC over the summer.

But back to Stephen Baldwin. While he purports to be a leading voice of the red state evangelical masses, I for one would appreciate it if he just went away. Kind of like his movie career.

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