As a divorced father I can understand the frustration that arises from conflict with an ex-spouse (as I'm sure my ex can, as well). As a father I can state unequivocally that the ranting, vitriolic, spiteful, hateful voice mail message that Alec Baldwin left for his 11 year old daughter is completely inexcusable. It doesn't matter what his daughter or his ex (Kim Basinger) have done. It doesn't matter that his daughter didn't answer his call. What matters is that his daughter is 11 years old and as a child of divorce needs a loving father.
What the message demonstrates, to me, is that Alex Baldwin is truly a psychopath, which is defined (by our friends at Wikipedia) as: A condition characterized by lack of empathy or conscience, and poor impulse control or manipulative behaviors. I think that describes him perfectly, particularly if you throw in a dash of pathological narcissism. For those who may have missed it, here's a transcript of the cell phone message that Baldwin left for his daughter:
Alec Baldwin Parenting Skills:
“Hey I wanna tell you something OK? And I want to leave a message for you right now because again its 10:30 here in New York on a Wednesday and once again I've made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone to call you at a specific time. When the time comes for me to make the phone call I stop whatever I'm doing and I go and I make that phone call at 11 o'clock in the morning in New York and if you don't pick up the phone at 10 o'clock at night and you don't even have that god damn phone turned on. I want you to know something okay, I'm tired of playing this game with you. I'm leaving this message with you to tell you, you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me, you don’t have the brains or the decency as a human being, I don't give a damn if you're 12-years-old, or 11-years-old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass, who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned, you have humiliated me for the last time with this phone, and when I come out there next week, I'm gonna fly out there for the day just to straighten you out on this issue, I'm gonna let you know just how disappointed in you I am and how angry I am with you that you've done this to me again. You have made me feel like shit and you have made me feel like a fool over and over and over again, and this crap you pull on me with this god damn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly, and over and over again. I am gonna get on a plane or I am gonna come out there for the day and I'm gonna straighten your ass out when I see you, do you understand me? I'm gonna really make sure you get it. Then I'm gonna get on a plane and I'm gonna turn around and I'm gonna come home. So you better be ready Friday, the 20th, to meet with me so I'm gonna let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude thoughtless little pig, OK?”
The above doesn't capture the seething, hateful anger in his voice, and the ominous tone of his threats. The above is not an angry parent snapping out a too-harsh rebuke. These are the prolonged, deranged ravings of a lunatic. Note how this is about *him*, and how she made him look foolish and humiliated him – “over and over and over again” and “for the last time”.
Imagine for a moment the actual event. A big kahuna like Alec Baldwin certainly has a cell phone, and one would presume that he certainly takes and makes calls all day long. So, at the appointed hour he picks up his phone to make the scheduled call, and his daughter doesn't answer. Would this be frustrating? Certainly. Would this be a source of anger? Maybe, if it was regular behavior and/or if the behavior was potentially influenced by the mother. We all get angry from time to time, even justifiably angry. But being justified at being angry does *not* lead a normal, sane person to unleash that kind of harangue on an 11 year old.
No, what we have here is somebody who, in public, comes across as sane and apologetic. Of course, in public he knows people will hear him, and he has the ability to prepare what he's going to say. However, in private, leaving a voice mail that he never thought the world would hear, he curses, threatens, demeans, insults, and berates an 11 year old girl for not answering his call.
For further information, do a web search for “Jan Maxwell” and “Saving Mr. Sloane”. Ms. Maxwell was an actress in a play (Saving Mr. Sloane by the Roundabout Theatre Company) which co-starred Alec Baldwin. She left the production, saying in a leaked email that the “bottom line was my physical safety, mental health and artistic integrity — none of which Roundabout was supporting” and that Baldwin put his fist through a wall and was “throwing things around with all of us cowering”. That sounds about right, doesn't it?
The saddest part of all of this is that Alec and Kim's poor daughter, who is caught in the middle of an adult problem. First of all, she might finally be learning from the worldwide reaction just how abhorrent and irrational her father's behavior is – which would be devastating for a child to learn about a parent. Although there is a good chance that she may have already figured that out for herself. In any case, she has to be devastated and embarrased by all of this, and my heart goes out to her.
And what of Alec Baldwin? Is he well-intentioned but with an uncontrollable temper? Is he a manipulative bastard who uses his daughter to twist the knife in his ex? Is he parenting the way he was parented and doesn't know any better? That last one is a cop-out, because any reasonable adult who was raised in such a way should figure out that it was wrong and not copy it. Unless they themselves inherited the crazy from their parents. And, sadly, I think that's the best explanation for this debacle. Alec Baldwin is just plain crazy. He should lose his parental rights and he should lose his show (“30 Rock”, for which we have already cancelled our TiVo Season Pass until such time as he leaves the show).