Editor's Note: Guest blogger Damon L. Jacobs is a licensed psychotherapist and author in New York City. You can find out more about his unique approaches to health and wellness by visiting www.DamonLJacobs.com.
When is an essay an authentic personal expression and when is it arrogant masturbatory narcissism? The answer, of course, is completely subjective, and primarily determined by how you choose to read it.
One of my favorite lines in A Course In Miracles is, "Projection makes perception," meaning that your judgment about others will be filtered by what you love or fear in yourself. The response to Alec Baldwin's eloquent and rhapsodic essay on Vulture.com is an excellent example of how projection makes perception, and how people will judge him by whatever they disdain or adore in themselves.
I, for one, find Mr. Baldwin's statements to be ballsy, brave, and the quintessential essence of the New York attitude that I find so stimulating, and from which he sadly finds himself removed. Many on social media are perceiving him as spoiled, entitled, and whiny. I see him as an inspiration who deserves to be left alone, and enjoy some well-earned peace.
So for those who are angered or annoyed with his online rantings, here is why I maintain Alec Baldwin is still kick-ass cool...
1.) He calls it like he sees it.
One of the things I find so refreshing about New York, compared to living in California, is how direct and clear people can be. Instead of smiling at you and then stabbing you in the back, people in New York are more likely to say things directly to your face. It can make for some awkward moments, but New York is a better place because of the diversity of vernaculars, attitudes, expressions, and reactions.
Baldwin's unpopular verbiage is part of a larger cultural context of New Yorkers who sometimes speak first, apologize later. I, for one, don't want to see that leave.
2. His actions speak louder than words.
Okay, so he doesn't use the exact "language" that people find appropriate. But people who use "politically correct" language are equally capable of exacting hatred and vitriol against minority groups.
What I look for is someone's actions to tell me the kind of person they are. And Baldwin's history of donating millions of dollars to HIV organizations, animal-rights groups, homeless organizations, and New York theater arts programs tell me a lot more about a person's integrity than a "toxic little queen" slip.
3. He protects his family.
Every one of his outbursts in recent years has been in the context of his wife and/or child being threatened and endangered by media encroaching in their personal space. Baldwin knows he's not perfect, he knows he's not always clean. But he does love his family and will rise to the role of defensive Papa Bear any time someone messes with them. That, in and of itself, makes him cool.
4. He has vague spiritual breakthroughs.
When Baldwin writes, "This is happening for a reason," it suggests he's on the cusp of a greater understanding of the laws of cause and effect. The fundamental premise in this model is that outer events and patterns reflects what we think and believe in our minds. If you are continually getting into fights, arguments, and provocations with others, than you are playing an active role in co-creating those events.
The uncomfortable "shift" Baldwin describes is often the breakthrough people have prior to taking full responsibility for their lives and then experiencing greater levels of serenity and happiness.
5. He seeks to express appreciation and positivity.
In a world where "entertainment" and "reality" are continuously becoming blurred, Baldwin sought to do an MSNBC show that focused on resiliency, intelligence, and "appreciation." He wanted to interview Debra Winger! For those too young to remember, Winger is the eternal symbol of the quintessential 1980s Hollywood "fuckable" star, who was completely dismissed from viable film roles after turning forty.
For Baldwin to call upon Winger for an interview means he is interested in bucking the system, examining Hollywood misogyny in a critical light, and spotlighting resilience and wasted talent. It would have been easier for him to just agree to interview the Rob Lowes of the world, but he fought for Winger instead. And lost.
I'm not saying that Alec Baldwin is some kind of saint that we are all going to put on a pedestal. I just think that our society benefits from these untethered and authentic expressions. They are becoming increasingly uncommon in a media that prefers cutesy soundbites to intelligent thoughts. And they give us an opportunity to gain a greater depth of understanding of ourselves, based on what we project onto outspoken individuals.
For that I'm grateful to Baldwin, and hope his absence is as permanent as one of Cher's Farewell Tours.