Spare a thought, everyone, for Jonah Hill – the character actor caught on tape this week telling an irritating, confrontational paparazzo to suck his dick, signing off with the beautiful “faggot”.
No sooner had the first bored internet user finished listening to the second syllable of “faggot” spill from Hill’s mouth than the Wolf Of Wall Street star was hastily beating a retreat, apologising profusely, his Hollywood bankability draining before his very eyes like an iPhone battery at a festival.
Hill has flung not one but two apologies out into the ether since the unfortunate incident over the weekend. First up was radio DJ Howard Stern’s show, in which Hill conceded the remark was “disgusting” and then again on Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show. Oh, this is just a coincidence, I’m sure, but Jonah Hill has a new film out.
In his most recent apology, which is at times emotional – but this is an actor we’re talking about here, so big deal – Jonah claims the photographer had been following him all day and making personal attacks against his family. So far, so unordinary.
Jonah goes on to explain he wanted to hurt the photographer back and so used “the most hurtful word I could think of at that moment”. Although Hill assures the audience he didn’t mean the word in a homophobic way, the fact this word was his first port of call when he wanted to hurl the most horrific insult he could think of is very telling. “Faggot” is the worst he could think of? Really?
Rather than ask himself why that might be, Hill goes on to pull out his best “Some of my best friends are gay” shtick by claiming he has “been supportive of the LGTBQ community my whole life”. Watch out everyone! The killer is calling from inside the house!
Jonah Hill may think that dutifully doling out red ribbons for World AIDS Day and clapping politely at a same-sex wedding means he has no more work to do, but he couldn’t be more wrong.
By choosing to use a defamatory word as “faggot” to degrade another man, he is exposing prejudices that no amount of rainbow-flag waving can wash away – it’s that last creaky floorboard you just can’t fix, no matter how hard you try.
That accusing a man of being gay and inviting him to suck you off is the worst weapon in his arsenal puts Jonah back in with the big nasty boys at school, who’d shrink away from each other, towel-whipping in the changing rooms and screaming “No homo!!!” at the top of their lungs.
Surely during his time in the battery farm of insecurities that is the American high school system an overweight teenage Hill heard, and was called, much worse. But thanks to Hollywood, Hill has managed to scale the fence out of the loser pen and electrify it behind him.
The worst thing is not the fact Hill said the word – we have all told loved ones to go blow themselves or die in a fire – but his refusal to think about why that was his go-to insult, the thought processes that took him there, that is the biggest concern. When his celebrity status is in silent mode, and he doesn’t have a sequel to flog or a chat show chair to perch on, what is Jonah Hill really thinking?
I’m sure you’re sorry, you certainly look it, but it’s never too late to educate yourself, Jonah. Get yourself to a school and ask children what it’s like to be called a faggot, and then try to understand. The concept of words associated with homosexuality now being bandied about as almost acceptable insults is a grotesque one – it doesn’t need any Hollywood champions, no matter how brief their turn in the spotlight may be.
If you need a new insult to hand next time you encounter an aggressive snapper, why not try “arsehole”? That way, if you need reminding of it, you can head to the nearest mirror.