Trump Jr and others have forgotten Alec Baldwin’s basic humanity

Even in these politically toxic times, such behaviour ought to be beneath anyone

Andrew Buncombe
Seattle
Monday 25 October 2021 22:12
Comments
Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on movie set, killing cinematographer
Leer en Español

How much can you divine of a famous person from a chance encounter in the street? Perhaps not so much. But you might be struck by their sense of low-drama normality, their obvious attempt at trying to blend in with a crowd. That was the impression I got, for sure, of Alec Baldwin, the 63-year-old actor at the centre of real-life tragedy on a movie set in New Mexico.

In the days since the incident last week that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza, Baldwin has expressed his deep remorse and shock. It appears he was given the weapon he fired by a movie crew member who told him it was a “cold gun”, and therefore safe to fire.

Alongside the tributes paid to 42-year old Hutchins, the incident has rightfully, resulted in calls for a full investigation into how this happened, to try and avoid such incidents again.

What has been surprising, even for our politically toxic times, has been the reaction from some on the right, who have used it to mock and attack Baldwin.

Their main motivation appears to be that the actor used to play the character of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, something that used to infuriate the former president and which appears now be fueling cruel comments from Trump’s eldest son, as well as others keen to secure his blessing. Donald Trump Jr has even been hawking T-shirts that read: “Guns don’t kill people, Alec Baldwin kills people”.

After some pointed out the tasteless of that particular enterprise, Trump Jr responded on Instagram, saying: “For those who are out there doing the fake sanctimony about leaving Alec Baldwin alone let’s all remember that Alec Baldwin would be the first person pissing on everyone’s grave if the shoes were on the other foot. Screw him!”

Another pro-Trump voice, conservative pundit Candace Owens, sparked her own outcry after she tweeted — in a post since deleted — that the death of Hutchins during the filming of Rust could be seen as “poetic justice” for Baldwin’s criticism of Trump.

Meanwhile, Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance wrote a post a couple of hours after the incident that tagged Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey: “Dear @jack. Let Trump back on. We need Alec Baldwin tweets.”

Trump Jr and Owens may really think Baldwin is fair game. He did indeed portray Trump for several seasons, and defended his decision to play the role.

Once, after Trump called for “retribution” after an episode he did not like, Baldwin tweeted: “I wonder if a sitting president exhorting his followers that my role in a TV comedy qualifies me as an enemy of the people constitutes a threat to my safety and that of my family?”

But Baldwin is an actor playing the part of someone in a satirical show — a show that first started broadcasting in 1975. Whatever you think of Baldwin or his performance on SNL, nothing forgives what is being said by Trump Jr and others.

I don’t know Alec Baldwin. When I lived in New York, I used to bump into him occasionally in the area south of Union Square where The Independent had its offices. Baldwin had an apartment there and he could often be spotted. (Once, a senior editor visiting from London saw him in our regular bagel shop, which allowed us to be very blasé when he reported seeing him: “Oh Alec Baldwin, not him again!”)

Once, or perhaps twice, I approached him in the street and asked if he would do an interview for us about playing Trump. He said to email his office, but I never heard back.

On those occasions, he was polite but not gushing. One sensed he was trying not to stand out. He looked like someone you might have seen on TV a couple of days earlier, but was otherwise just another person making their way along a busy New York street. Indeed, he looked like the very same man captured in the photographs taken last week outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s offices after being questioned about the shooting. And in those images, he looks utterly distraught and bereft.

Using this moment of genuine tragedy either out of spite, or for some perceived political benefit, ought to be beneath all of us.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in