Monday, May 31, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - JESSE JAMES, IN THE DOGHOUSE

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

I’ve seen The Blind Side. It’s not very good. But the critics agree: while Sandra Bullock might not have deserved an Oscar for her performance in that movie, she didn’t deserve the kind of treatment she received from soon-to-be-ex-hubby Jesse James. The appropriately named James has certainly come off as a bad guy since revelations of his philandering sent Bullock into self-enforced hiding and him onto the “world’s most hated men” list. This week James decided to take the bull by the horns and “set the record straight” about him and Bullock and his life, by appearing on ABC’s Nightline. Looking a bit haggard and oh-so-earnest, he said all the right things about being sorry for having hurt the one person in his life he loved the most (Bullock). But then he turned the interview into a weird mix of self-loathing and self-serving. First he attributed his fooling-around to an urge to “self-sacrifice my own life”: he had affairs with other women because he wanted to get caught. “It’s hard for me to talk about it a little bit,” he said, begging the question of why he was appearing on national television to do just that. Then, oddly, a discussion of the paparazzi’s unwelcome attention leads him to credit the paparazzi for making him get help: he was getting so stressed by all the media interest that he checked into rehab. What for? Sex addiction (just a li’l bit). Anger management. But mostly because as a child he was “a victim of physical and emotional abuse” at the hands of his father, who allegedly laughed one time when young Jesse fell down and broke his arm. (At this point in the interview, he asked for a few moments to collect himself.) None of this really explains why he committed adultery, of course. And his explanation of a now-infamous photo depicting him wearing Nazi regalia and giving the Heil Hitler salute wasn’t exactly exculpatory. James said it was part of “a perfect storm. People were out for blood and that photo gave it to them.” No, actually, Jesse, you gave it to them, when you put on that stupid hat and made that offensive gesture. The lesson: when your reputation is in the outhouse, it’s often a good idea to get out in front of the accusations, ‘fess up and talk about how you’re going to set things right. But it’s not easy, and you’ve got to be prepared to both make sense and accept real responsibility. Otherwise, you’re just not credible. Fumble, Jesse James. Now please go away forever.

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