At the beginning of the strange video he put out on Christmas Eve, sporting an apron design of many Father Christmases, Kevin Spacey is shown washing his hands alongside a bronzed, well-cooked bird.
So, if Spacey can be congratulated for anything in this creepy, bonkers video—in which he kind of impersonated Frank Underwood from House of Cards while apparently seeking to counter negative publicity and perceptions around the historic sexual-assault allegations made against him—it’s that he showed best practice for Christmas Day chefs around meat and perishables of various temperatures.
This important culinary primer aside, the video is not just a fail, it is also a menacing, self-aggrandizing, beyond tone-deaf, egomaniacal fail, which shows exactly how little Spacey has cared to learn about himself, or the gravity of what he has been accused of, and the devastating effects of his alleged actions as so eloquently expressed by his accusers, like Anthony Rapp, who claimed Spacey had assaulted him when he was 14.
“Let Me Be Frank,” the video is tellingly titled after Spacey’s House of Cards character. And just like the eponymous track of another Frank (Sinatra), this insane video is Spacey’s version of “My Way.”
Any bit of oxygen in a room which Spacey is inhabiting must be his to own, you sense. He has now made himself the victim of events, just like so many accused men do, particularly ones likely surrounded by sycophantic flunkies and friends. It’s amazing how much blind self-affirmation and craven self-denial money can buy you.
The video is as double-toned as it is clunkily titled. You can take the character talking to you to be a mash-up of fiction and reality, Underwood and Spacey—although only a really good shrink or prosecution lawyer could ultimately determine which is which.
“You want me back,” Underwood/Spacey says, direct to the camera, oddly sexual and suggestive, and oddly demanding and imposing. “No,” you find yourself thinking, “We’re fine. Robin Wright’s got this on screen. You stay right where you are with that joint of meat, dear.”
Before tweeting the video, Spacey’s previous tweet, from last October, had been an apology to Rapp, to which Spacey added his own coming out as gay.
Rarely has a coming out seemed so offensive, wrong, and exploitative, especially as he himself had sought to make a joke out of the very same closet he inhabited (again, crushingly unfunny and creepy) at the 2017 Tony Awards. Spacey folded this belated declaration into a promise to “examine my own behavior.”
The reality: Spacey had, like many a Hollywood star, chosen to stay closeted and only come out when feeling forced to do so, and—in his case—in a pathetic and cowardly bid for public sympathy, linking the abuse he was accused of with his hidden sexual orientation.
And today, Spacey chose to collide events yet again. He released the video on the same day prosecutors confirmed that Spacey was facing a charge for indecent assault and battery on a teenager at a Nantucket bar in July 2016. Spacey will be arraigned at Nantucket District Court on Jan. 7.
Last year, former news anchor Heather Unruh stated that the assault had happened to her son at a Nantucket bar. Her son was, said Unruh, a “star-struck, straight, 18-year-old young man who had no idea that the famous actor was an alleged sexual predator, or that he was about to become his next victim.”
Instead of a shred of atonement, explanation, or even reflection, in the video the tone Spacey essentially goes for is “I’m back, bitches.” (I’m no lawyer, but going full Frank Underwood-meets-Margo Channing in court, if that is now his plan, is a terrible real-world move.)
Netflix declined to comment on the video (over 1.6 million views and counting at the time of writing), as well it might, because like us its executives likely watched this unpolished turd of self-glorification with mouths agape in shock, just hoping—as we all are—that it doesn’t somehow manifest in our Christmas nightmares.
“I know what you want,” Spacey/Underwood says to us with a predatory snarl. “Sure, they have tried to separate us but what we have is too strong, it’s too powerful… We share everything… the deepest, darkest secrets. I showed you exactly what people are capable of. I shocked you with my honesty, but mostly I challenged you and made you think. And you trusted me, even though you knew you shouldn’t. So, we’re not done, no matter what anyone says. And besides, I know what you want. You want me back.”
A few things (quite besides who the hell does Kevin Spacey believe himself to be?): Frank Underwood, his insinuating gaze to the camera, made the House of Cards fan a fourth-wall-breaking accomplice, and jolly good fun it was too (although Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart in the BBC original series of 1990, created by Michael Dobbs, was arguably more arch and slithery).
But, and this seems like news to Spacey, his House of Cards fans have been forced to move on, and they did so without resorting to rioting on the streets. Spacey’s ego cannot register that, and simply retreading his character’s relationship with the viewer is embarrassing grandstanding.
On another level, if this is Spacey talking, then he’s either lying about his relationship to his fans, or deluded. He was notoriously private, and kept the audience well away from his personal life. He only came out as gay in the most hideously self-serving way, after sexual-assault allegations were made against him.
And no, sorry, there has been no great public desire to have him “back.”
Spacey/Underwood goes on: “Of course, some believed everything and have just been waiting with bated breath to hear me confess it all. They’re just dying to have me declare that everything said is true, and that I got what I deserved… Only you and I both know, it’s never that simple: not in politics and not in life. You wouldn’t believe the worst without evidence... You wouldn’t rush to judgments without facts, would you? Did you? No, not you. You’re smarter than that.”
If this is meant to be Underwood, then it’s utter nonsense, because his whole raison d’être is to be a triple-talking snake. We saw what he said and did very clearly. If this is Spacey objecting to being judged over the various accusations against him, he has had over 12 months to present his response. Thus far, he has chosen not to.
If there is evidence to exonerate Spacey that he wishes to voice, it is his right to do so. He has not done that. It’s not public opinion at fault, but Spacey’s own determined stance of saying very little.
In this respect, instead of making a self-serving, vanity-streaked three-minute video, he could have answered the accusations head-on and substantively. He chose not to.
The video makes clear that Spacey is happiest in a bizarre, very Hollywood realm of reality-fantasy; a blurring of fiction and reality. This means he can play both misunderstood victim and avenging hero, in the somewhat demented narrative he is crafting.
Underwood being killed off “made for such an unsatisfactory ending,” he says, wishing aloud it could have been more memorable. Anything, he says, should be possible in “life and art… We weren’t afraid: not of what we said, and not of what we did. And we’re still not afraid.”
Here, Spacey glories in Underwood’s absolute sense of entitlement. It is meant, presumably, in real life as a kind of statement of Spacey-ian defiance. But it just sounds monumentally self-regarding, self-indulgent, and insensitive. Has he heard nothing, learned nothing?
“I can promise you this,” Underwood/Spacey says. “If I didn’t pay the price for the things we both know I did do, I’m certainly not going to pay the price for things I didn’t do.”
Spacey spits out that last line with revealing emphasis.
Here, reality and fiction are having an almighty fist-fight. Spacey seems aggrieved at how Underwood was treated on screen, and also (as Spacey) claiming he will vigorously contest accusations he feels have been wrongly made against him.
So far, 14 months on from the initial accusations, he hasn’t fought anything, contested anything, or convincingly stated his innocence. Roll on Jan. 7.
Underwood/Spacey then blethers on about being an anti-rules kind of hero, and that we “loved” him for it. Sure, on House of Cards, Underwood’s heinousness could be fun to watch; in real life, Spacey played by every Hollywood establishment rule going, until he was called out for alleged sexual assault—at which point he all but disappeared, then released this weird video.
“Despite all the poppycock, the animosity, the headlines, the impeachment without a trial, despite everything, despite even my own death, I feel surprisingly good,” Spacey-as-Underwood intones. “My confidence grows each day that soon enough you will know the full truth.”
For Underwood, is Spacey launching his own rival show, or does he know other things we don’t? As for Spacey-as-Spacey, we’re waiting. If all those headlines and his “impeachment without trial” have been so untrue and unfair, where are his detail-rich, evidence-revealing denials? Where are the lawsuits against those who made the accusations? Where has Spacey given his side? Why the silence?
The rhetorical flourishes of an aggrieved actorrrrr reach their zenith at the end of the video.
“Oh, wait a minute,” our thesp at the kitchen sink stage-whispers. “Now that I think of it, you never saw me die, did you?”
“Conclusions can be so deceiving.”
Terrible dramatic music. The end.
No, we didn’t see Underwood die on screen. So, is Spacey planning to return to the show? Make his own show?
In his own life, the message is: I’m still here. The conclusions you may have reached about him—that he sexually abused younger men and then used his coming out as the worst kind of public sympathy card and mitigating factor—have been wrong, he says.
He doesn’t tell us why.
Note again the tone of voice, collapsing fiction and reality. Frank Underwood isn’t sorry for anything. That’s in character.
And also, apparently in character, Kevin Spacey isn’t sorry. He is not here for special pleading. He wants to impose himself on us for our own benefit. Oh, how we must have missed his unique talent, he seems to think. Well, enough of the sackcloth and ashes. Kevin Spacey no longer seeks a public absolution, he no longer wants to explain. He wants to play a part, and an odious one at that.
A different three-minute video could have addressed his alleged victims, and/or explored his alleged actions. He could have shown contrition, or exhibited personal growth and understanding. It could have explained his strange, tortured life in the Hollywood closet and how that, in his mind, somehow intersected with his treatment of others.
But no. Instead, Spacey released his own grotesque Christmas pantomime. Come January, a courtroom and judge will hopefully put a stop to this bizarre play-acting.