You take a Monday off, and when you come back, it’s like you’ve emerged into the all-Malkovich world in Being John Malkovich, except it’s all Christian Bale, all the time. The Batman actor and apparent douchebag was recorded giving an extended, profanity-filled hard time to the director of photography on his current film project, Terminator Salvation, and the audio was leaked to the media, who immediately whipped themselves into a frenzy like piranhas tossed a bloody steak. But I don’t blame the media! Clearly, all humans were suddenly obsessed with this (long) moment of (extremely) inappropriate work behavior. Friends started e-mailing me about it, techno remixes started appearing, Rod Blagojevich referenced Bale in another surreal TV appearance.
Okay, it’s a funny and impressively foul soliloquy, but are you trying to tell me that arrogant movie stars don’t holler at underlings every day? Of course they do, but the “newsworthy” thing here is that Bale’s rant was recorded and released, something I can’t imagine happening without at least the implied consent and cooperation of a variety of people. Moreover, the rapid ascendance of the rant to the top of the headlines means that clearly this situation has touched a nerve, or captured something about the national zeitgeist. What’s going on? Are we all oppressed puritanicals, giggling over vulgarity? Did an underling wander onto our sets once, and now we sympathize with poor Mr. Bale? Do we all just wish we were Batman? Here’s my theory: America is in a revolutionary mood.