Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Narcissism Watch: Alec Baldwin's Tantrum
And The Economist's Weird Response

Non-news of the day: celebrity throws a tantrum on a commercial airliner.  Somewhat greater news: The Economist reports it.  Odd twist: The Economist winds up defending the self-absorbed weasel.

The weasel in question is Alec Baldwin, evidently the star of somethingorother who said NO I WON'T turn off my Ipad on takeoff because I WANT TO PLAY MY VIDEO GAME--whereupon the airliner had to taxi back to the gate, so as to kick him off   Really no news here folks, except perhaps that it is a confirmatory instance of Jonathan Winters' theory of first-class air-travel: the kind where they ring a bell and you  get to go back and do anything you want  to the passengers in coach.  At least he's a step up from Gérard Depardieu ("a French actor," the E explains) who pissed in the aisle and then fobbed it off as a prostate problem. No quarrel with the E then for dismissing it all with the observation that

perhaps ... commercial planes are nowadays the only place left (outside of jail) where these mollycoddled superstars are ever told to do anything they do not want to do.
But then about midway through the article the right hand, obviously not knowing what the left hand was up to, turned Baldwin's infantile snit into some sort of attack on American, and defense of passenger freedom.  For at the end of the day, the writer observers,  don't we all know that the turn-off-your electronics rule is just a piece of bureaucratic silliness that nobody ought to have to live with?

Well, yes, of course it is a piece of bureaucratic silliness.  But Baldwin wasn't demanding that You or I be permitted to use our Ipads; he was just demanding that he be permitted to use his Ipad, and abusing the poor flight attendant who said he couldn't.  My guess is that if I sat next to Alex and showed the effrontery to whip out my own Ipad, the chances are he'd punch me out for clicking too loud.   Passenger rights, my Aunt Maude.  Meanwhile, the E notes that Southwest Airlines apologized to yet another rules-are-for-little-people celebrity, while American "responded with some harsh comments about Mr Baldwin," adding "which may reflect why Southwest has the better reputation for customer service."  Actually, no.  I'm entertaining the possibility that getting its back up about Baldwin might be the first really customer-friendly gesture AA has made in years.  Were it I, I would have been tempted to deploy the heavy artillery: I would have called for Gérard Depardieu.   

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

If all Baldwin had done was continue to play his video game, he would get—or at least be entitled to—some sympathy from the rest of the flying world, who know full well that such playing in no way interferes with the operation of the plane.

(As an aside, anyone who has flown in the past several years can note the growing number of people who pretend to put away their handheld when the flight attendants are looking and bring it back out moments later.)

Instead, he got up, went into the lavatory and caused enough of a ruckus. It was that that caused the plane to return to the gate. And that is completely beyond the pale.

The question I haven't seen anyone answer is why, knowing the plane was going to be taking off in 15-20 minutes, he was playing a game that would take longer than that in the first place. Anyone?