All hell broke loose for Johnny Depp a couple of weeks ago, with an interview he gave to Vanity Fair. In the article, he stated his strong dislike for photo shoots - standing in front of a camera and posing made him extremely uncomfortable. And that’s when Johnny stuck his scuffed boot in his mouth:
“Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped. The whole thing. It feels like a kind of weird – just weird, man.”
The “Word Police” immediately leapt out from every corner to attack his use of the word “rape” in describing still photography. The insensitivity of the man – the callousness! As a woman, I certainly don’t think rape is trivial, but I did kind of understand what he was getting at. I mean…I feel raped by corporate America, the financial system and our government practically every day of my life – but I don’t mean it literally…it’s a word – often used to express a variety of assaults. And I think that’s what Johnny meant. Naturally, his response to the outcry was to offer the prerequisite canned response of regret for his inappropriate comments. But Johnny wasn’t finished being criticized.
More recently, in Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams made reference to another quote from this infamous interview:
“Basically, if they’re going to pay me the stupid money right now, I’m going to take it.”
Mary’s point was that with the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations shining a spotlight on the extreme wealth inequality in this country – maybe we shouldn’t be spending ever-increasing amounts of our money on movies, pro sports and other entertainment venues where individual people are making ginormous amounts of money. Though she didn’t hold Johnny personally responsible for any of the financial problems the rest of us are going through these days, she was suggesting that perhaps things have gotten too far out of whack in the entertainment business. Maybe Johnny doesn’t need to make $50 million for his next movie. Maybe $10 million would suffice. And maybe movie studios should recalibrate these people’s paychecks to a more reasonable level of fabulous riches. I agree with Mary.
And…well…not to pile on Johnny Depp, but…why not, I’ve got nothing better to do today – there was another quote from the interview that completely boggled my mind. As far as I can tell this little nugget has been overlooked by almost everyone else who has been taking Johnny to task. The interviewer, Nick Tosches, asks Johnny why he works so much. Depp’s got movies lined up like jets on the tarmac at JFK – one movie after another – he’s like the Terminator of acting – he never stops. And that’s when Johnny says this:
“Basically, if they’re going to pay me the stupid money right now, I’m going to take it. I have to. I mean, it’s not for me. Do you know what I mean? At this point, it’s for my kids. It’s ridiculous, yeah, yeah. But ultimately is it for me? No. No. It’s for the kids.”
The kids? The kids? I read this and my head nearly exploded. He’s got two children. Two! He’s not Angelina Jolie, for pity’s sake! How much money do these kids need? Is a couple hundred million dollars not enough? What do they have, gold-plated coloring books and chinchilla bedspreads? Will they both need their own Caribbean islands to go along with the one their dad owns? I mean, how spoiled are his children? My two daughters would be happy with a hell of a lot less than $200 million, I’ll tell you that much. And I wonder, does he toss and turn at night, fretting over how he’ll make ends meet? If he never lands another movie role again, and has to retire with only $300 million in the bank, will he have to start clipping coupons so the family doesn’t go hungry? Will his poor children have to spend the rest of their lives cutting corners?
For some reason I thought he was a bit better than this insatiable love of money. I’m not sure why I thought this, but I did. He’s made some fine movies in the past, even if he has slavishly, whored himself with the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Maybe it was his thoughtful, pleasant demeanor in interviews that made me think he was an okay kind of guy. Or his torn pants and battered boots – just an everyman residing in Funkytown, USA. And much was made in this interview (and others) of his intelligence and the “depth of his reading.” Everything “from Baudelaire to Beckett to Burroughs.” It occurs to me that perhaps he ought to open up a newspaper and find out what’s going on in the rest of the world. Maybe then he could teach his children something besides how to count to a quarter billion.
And, hell…there could be any number of reasons why a person loves to work: Because it’s fun, or you employ hundreds or people, or have to support your extended, freeloading family, or you’re building a charitable foundation to do great works that would relieve the suffering of countless people. He could have said any of that. Or, simply – “I love what I do! I could never give it up!” That would be fine! I’d take that. But your children? Give me a break! And if it’s not for his children, or even his love of acting, but merely his worship of cold, hard cash, then it would be refreshing to hear the truth for a change. But whatever he might choose to say, he doesn’t have to drag his children into his bottomless greed. It’s unseemly.
And sure, he’s just an actor – big deal. Who cares? There’s truth in that. But a famous actor that grants interviews and hopes you’ll pay money to see his movies, while he travels to his private island on his yacht, or while sitting in a London mansion, chain-smoking and chugging wine while opining that his children are in need of a half a billion or they won’t feel satisfied….well, it kind of attracts notice and gets under my skin. And at the end of the day, he might want to concern himself with his burgeoning image as a superficial, sickeningly out-of-touch actor, let alone with the condition of his soul.
And, on a personal note...I'd like to give a big, warm shout-out to Scanner, who, some time ago took the time and had the patience to teach me how to do a link. Much appreciated!