Donald Trump is such a moral black hole he sucks everyone and everything he touches down into a gaping chasm of narcissistic nihilism with him. Which is why so many of us gave a hard time to anyone in media who helped promote Trump during his presidential campaign, like Saturday Night Live did in their miscalculated ratings grab of 2015. Perhaps more than anyone else, Jimmy Fallon has felt the brunt of this criticism ever since he patted presidential candidate Trump's hair and was accused of normalizing a sociopath before what was, at the time, the largest late night audience on television.
Since then, Fallon has struggled to reconcile an increasingly outraged and politicized culture with his own centrist, let's-please-everyone style, which has led to his ratings cratering and the great Stephen Colbert now regularly destroying him (and Jimmy Kimmel almost running neck-and-neck with Fallon). Almost exactly a year ago, Fallon discussed the Trump incident (and his flailing ratings) for the first time in a defensive profile piece with the Times in which he came across as more self-pitying than sympathetic.
It seems not much has changed a year later, as Fallon hit the same self-pitying notes in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week. "I did not do it to 'normalize' him or to say I believe in his political beliefs or any of that stuff," Fallon said in the closest thing to an apology during the conversation.
What is Fallon focused on instead? He's upset that his fellow comedians criticized him, and that people don't realize he's one of the "good guys," despite not giving them any reason to think that, unless the bar for "good guy" is "likes playing games with celebrities:"
"It just got bigger and out of control," Fallon recalls, speaking in his office at 30 Rock. Then came the shots from Fallon's colleagues. "I saw other comedians from other shows making fun of me on Twitter and I go, 'Okay, now I'm just gonna get off,'" he says. "They know the show. I'm just doing five hours a week. I get in at 10 in the morning, I work 'til seven at night and I'm just trying to make a funny show. [Addressing them:] 'You know the grind and you know me. Of all the people in the world, I'm one of the good people — I mean, really. You don't even know what you're talking about if you say that I'm evil or whatever.' But people just jump on the train, and some people don't even want to hear anything else. They're like, 'No, you did that!' You go, 'Well, just calm down and just look at the whole thing and actually see my body of work.'"
I don't recall anyone calling Fallon specifically "evil" (when you do a Google search for "Jimmy Fallon evil," you get countless results about Dr. Evil on The Tonight Show), but rather a stooge who believes all comic targets are on equal playing field, regardless of whether one of those targets routinely encouraged the most racist tendencies of his followers, and started a Birther movement meant to discredit America's first black president (not to mention everything that has happened since Trump took office).
Here is the most maddening quote, in which his self-pitying reaches operatic levels:
"It was definitely a down time," Fallon somberly says of the period after Trump's last appearance on his show. "And it's tough for morale. There's 300 people that work here, and so when people are talking that bad about you and ganging up on you, in a really gang-mentality..." Choking up, he continues, "You go, 'Alright, we get it. I heard you. You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I'm depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself? What would make you happy? Get over it.'" Fallon adds, "I'm sorry. I don't want to make anyone angry — I never do and I never will. It's all in the fun of the show. I made a mistake. I'm sorry if I made anyone mad. And, looking back, I would do it differently."
What would you do differently exactly? This was never about making you feel bad, Jimmy—this was about you realizing you have a giant platform, one which allows you to choose which voices/personalities to boost, and that there is a serious responsibility that comes with that, especially when you start dabbling in politics—particularly with a politician whose brand involves the inhumane treatment of other humans. Clearly, you are neither comfortable nor good at dealing with serious issues or people, which probably means you shouldn't be dabbling in it!
Fallon here shows, yet again, that he remains unwilling to do the work of self-examination needed to actually grow and learn from this experience.
You: "Maddie, there's a typo in the email you sent."
Me: "You made me feel bad. So now what? Are you happy? I'm depressed. Do you want to push me more? What do you want me to do? You want me to kill myself? What would make you happy? Get over it."
— Madeleine Davies (@madeleine_rae) June 20, 2018