Tag Archives: Kristen Wiig

Dear John Goodman: No Sympathy Here

Debbie says:

Let’s shed a tear for actor John Goodman (actually, I’m a huge fan of his work), who has apparently never thought about the fact that a shoe feels different on the other foot:

At a social gathering, Goodman, an admittedly huge fan of Wiig’s work, approached the “Bridesmaids” star mid-conversation and it didn’t go so well.

side by side photos of the two stars

“She was talking to somebody else, and I was just — I think she’s so great, and the social barriers broke down and I interrupted the conversation,” he explained to Stern. “And I would just hate for somebody to do that to me. And she goes, ‘Yeah, I’ll talk to you in a minute.’ [makes sound of bomb dropping] It was like the Atom. I shrunk down to Atom size. … I really like her, and it was embarrassing, so I’ll never speak to her again.”¬†

Melissa McEwen at Shakesville deconstructs this beautifully:

He saw her talking to someone else and interrupted her, which he would hate for somebody to do to him, but did it anyway. And instead of immediately dropping her conversation with someone else, which they might have considered pretty rude, she told him she would talk to him in a minute.

That actually doesn’t sound very terrible to me!

And I suspect if that had been the whole story, it wouldn’t have sounded very terrible to anyone else, either.

But Goodman went on to explain that her failure to immediately stop her conversation and give him her full and undiluted attention on his schedule made him feel small and insignificant.

You can write this off to his movie/TV star status, which means that he has way less opportunity to learn how to deal with someone blowing him off for five minutes. Or you can say, as McEwen does perfectly accurately, that this is simple misogyny and male privilege at work, that Goodman does this to people all the time without a moment’s thought to whether or not it hurts them, and then can’t tolerate it.

The third piece, however, is Goodman’s size. If he were not famous, he’d be fat enough to lose at least some of his otherwise automatic male privilege, and he’d be very familiar with conventionally beautiful women (especially ones who are movie/TV stars themselves) blowing him off, not just for five minutes, but permanently. Quite likely, he would live in constant awareness that any conversation with a conventionally beautiful woman was an insult risk, just as everyone in a one-down position lives with the constant awareness that any interaction with someone with more power or privilege is an insult risk, or worse.

When he takes this minor interaction, which could so easily be framed as, “Look, Kristen Wiig is polite enough to finish one conversation before starting the next,” as an irretrievable insult, he isn’t just setting Wiig up for dozens of articles calling her out as rude, and he isn’t just¬†revealing himself as having a pathetic need for immediate gratification, he’s also distancing himself from people who look like him, telling them that he believes in his right to expect something they can’t even imagine expecting.

John Goodman, you have experienced a Teachable Moment. I’ll write out the lessons for you:

1) she (and everyone else) has every right to finish her conversation (or her life) without talking to you;

2) if you learn how to deal with minor human interactions without drama, your life will be better;

3) if you weren’t famous, this would be an everyday occurrence. Be kind to the people who have to face much worse with their morning coffee.

P.S. to Kristen Wiig: Please don’t make a public “apology,” for doing absolutely nothing wrong.