Saturday, April 07, 2012

Hey Girl, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: A Rant

A few days ago, a woman was about to step into the path of a cab in New York because she was looking the wrong way, and a bystander who was paying attention said, "Hey, watch out!" and pulled her out of the way.  Squishification was prevented, a good deed performed, and life goes on, right?  Right?  NOPE.  Not if the girl is an annoying loudmouth journalist with pretensions of grandeur and if the bystander is Ryan Gosling.  I cannot believe the sheer eye-swiveling extent of the aftermath.

OK, let me preface the rant by saying that this really isn't about Ryan.  If anything, he's the inadvertent lightning rod for other people's issues, and he comes out of this smelling like a rose ... as he should, because he did something that we should all do if we were in his shoes: pay attention and help someone out if we can.  It was the right and decent thing to do, and Mr. Gosling should be commended.  Nope, MM's rant is about the idiocy of everything that came afterwards.

Perhaps I should start at the beginning.  Now how did the world even know that Ryan had done this thing?  Because the girl in question, one Laurie Penny, tweeted about it right after it happened, and if you look at the tweet, she herself gushed about it: "I literally, LITERALLY just got saved from a car by Ryan Gosling. Literally. That actually just happened." Look at that tweet.  She herself is making a big deal out of being rescued by Ryan Gosling. (Update: See, I even got an image of said tweet so you can see that I'm not making it up.)

Then soon after when the news spread like wildfire and the Internet exploded with a fresh bout of love and admiration for Gosling, Penny changed her tune and wrote a smug, self-righteously preachy piece for Gawker (thanks to the several gentle readers who gave me the link via email and comments).  What a load of faux intellectual hipsterish hogwash.  Since then, the Internet exploded again, with most of it racing indignantly to defend Gosling (who, by the way, doesn't need defending since he didn't do anything wrong ... which just might be the best reason for everyone to flock to his banner, actually).

Look, the whole thing now seems to me to be an attempt by Penny to make the incident about her, not Gosling.  No, it's about her, regardless of what sanctimonious blather she's spouting about Important Issues.  Oh my sweet Georgia peaches, just take a look at this vomitous paragraph:
But as a feminist, a writer, and a gentlewoman of fortune, I refuse to be cast in any sort of boring supporting female role, even though I have occasional trouble crossing the road, and even though I did swoon the teeniest tiniest bit when I realized it was him. I think that’s lazy storytelling, and I’m sure Ryan Gosling would agree with me.
WHAT KIND OF ASTOUNDINGLY SELF-ABSORBED DIPSTICK DESCRIBES HERSELF AS "A GENTLEWOMAN OF FORTUNE"?   Anyway, honey, clearly your fortune that day was to be turned into a sticky spot on Sixth Avenue, but lucky for you some innocent bystander bothered to prevent that.  And as annoying as this kind of writing is, I find even more disgusting her attempt to co-opt Gosling (whom I'm pretty sure she did not consult to see if he actually thought this way) into her own self-involved preening and preaching.  Hey girl, you cast yourself in a "boring supporting female role" because YOU WERE AN OBLIVIOUS IDIOT AND STEPPED INTO TRAFFIC WITHOUT LOOKING BOTH WAYS.  (Isn't that a basic lesson of life that you should have learned when you were a child?  I don't care if you're from London and used it as your excuse.  I look both ways whether I'm in New York or London or any other place on earth, for crap's sake.)   And then you yourself publicized the entire incident on Twitter for all the world to see!

Your rescuer happened to have different wedding tackle than you do.  So what?  This is not about gender politics or feminism or whatever.  This is about you being foolish about crossing the street, you being luckily saved from squishification by a bystander, and now you being all worked up because (a) that bystander happens to be a well-known actor and (b) everyone's now swooning over what he did.  Congratulations.  You're no longer a damsel in distress. You're now a totally annoying buzzkill and poster child for everything that's wrong with a particular strain of  aggressively offended, ever-aggrieved ankle-nipping self-appointed "feminism."  Bonus: the nasty streak of America-bashing in her piece. If America is such a sinkhole of barbarity, what the hell are you doing in New York City anyway, rubbing shoulders with us howling savages? (Update: as La Parisienne pointed out to me, it's a little rich that Penny the Brit is slamming the US for having a celebrity culture.  Uh, excuse me, was it not the oh-so-proper UK that gave us "Dianafication"?  Yeah.  B*tch, please.)

The fallout has eaten the Internet.  A cursory look around gives you this (via La Parisenne), this, thisthis, this ... and even the National Review has weighed in (apparently because it thinks Gosling's more fun than the GOP candidates ... which, in all honesty, he is).  And there's far more out there.

In the end, though, what should we take away from all this?  I'm thinking these things:

  • Look both ways before you cross a street.  Any street.  Anywhere.
  • Pay attention when you're at the curb.  If you see someone about to get squished, do something about it.
  • Don't expect a thank you.

As for Mr. Gosling, it's true that he's gotten a lot more attention from the incident because he's already a celebrity.  But why is this bad?  This is a teachable moment.  If anything, it should be a good thing for setting an example about courteous behavior and helping people:  "See, Ryan Gosling did this.  Now go and do likewise."  If anything, this should be a chance to make courtesy (and, dare I even say it, chivalry) hot again.  Ryan's many admirers are swooning over his heroics and having some fun.  LET US HAVE OUR MOMENT OF DELIGHT THAT SOMEONE OUT THERE IS DOING IT RIGHT.  Thanks, Mr. Gosling, for being awesome.  I hope it inspires others, both guys and girls, to be awesome too.  Come on, people, wouldn't you rather read news about celebrities helping people than news about celebrities behaving badly?  Would you rather have Ryan Gosling pulling people out of traffic or [insert any of a million names]'s latest drug/alcohol-related degradation?

Oh, and one more thing: Ryan, you can rescue me anytime.

UPDATE:  Dignified Rant has just called me out for "swooning," and I freely and even cheerfully acknowledge that I am guilty as charged.   While we can disagree on the swoonability of Ryan Gosling, at least we can agree that Laurie Penny is a twit of astounding proportions!  By the way, Gosling's absolutely doing the right thing by staying out of the whole kerfuffle.

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