Unlike some people, I wasn’t bothered when “Two and a Half Men” star Angus T. Jones told the world his show was “filth.”
Let’s face it. He’s got a point.
Sure, he’s part of the show – and it’s one of the most popular on TV. Sure, he reportedly makes $350,000 an episode, which is a lot of money, considering one of his lines this past week was, “She gave me the clap.”
But people have been attacking Jones for days, calling him a hypocrite, mocking him in videos and, of course, shouting the kind of thing you always hear when a celebrity speaks out on something:
“If it’s so bad, why don’t you quit and give ME your money?”
What’s strange is that this anger boils hotter than any directed at the makers of shows like “Two and a Half Men,” which truly do pander to the lowest common denominator. (Sample line: “Mom’s been on more hotel pillows than a chocolate mint.”)
Yet when Jones appeared in a video for a religious site this past week and said: “You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t. I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show.” He was ripped to shreds.
Here’s a question: Is it better if he thinks the show is dirty, lewd, poison for young minds, but keeps his mouth shut about it?
Why? Because he’s getting paid?
Growing up as a child actor
If that were all that mattered, then anyone employed by a tobacco company – even a factory worker – should never say that smoking is a bad habit. And anyone working for Anheuser-Busch should never rail against drunken driving.
Either you’re part of the problem, or you’re part of the solution, right?
Except no one would argue that. The tobacco worker would be sympathetic, especially if he or she needed the job to support the family. And drunken driving should be railed against no matter who you are or where you work.
So it’s more likely the vitriol toward Jones is rooted partly in envy: He makes a ton of money, his critics don’t. Understandable. But not a reason to ignore what he’s saying.
Listen, I agree that it is hypocritical to tell people not to watch a show that you are on, but you know who else thinks that? Angus T. Jones. He called himself a “paid hypocrite.” From what I’ve read, he also planned to leave the show next year, after recently beginning his religious exploration, following his parents’ divorce and a sidetrack into drugs.
Perhaps his contract doesn’t allow him to leave mid-season without serious penalties. Perhaps there are other reasons. Who knows? The guy is 19 and has been on TV since he was 9. I seriously doubt he has thought this out.
Besides, in a lesser reported quote, he also said, “I don’t think I would be on the show this year if God hadn’t kind of pushed me into it…. I am there for a reason.”
If he believes his star status helps him spread his religious message, how is he different than countless admired athletes and actors who do the same?
What they’ll put on TV these days
George Clooney once called his Batman movie “a waste of money.” Bob Hoskins called “Super Mario Bros.” the worst thing he ever did. Nobody demanded they return a paycheck.
Besides, if you’re looking for hypocrites, why stop at the actors? How about writers who won’t let their own kids watch their shows? How about advertisers who run from a whiff of controversy but regularly underwrite the decay of decency?
Yes, Jones said of his show, “Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth.” But throwing darts at him is missing the bigger – and more threatening – target. These sitcoms themselves. The level of raunchiness now boggles the mind.
I watched an episode this past week of “The Office,” a show known for its clever writing. The last minute was a stunningly lurid conversation with Rainn Wilson (Dwight) and Angela Kinsey (Angela), who pondered how gay men had sex. It included a question from Angela about how men’s privates tangled around one another and a remark from Dwight about where gay men had their vaginas.
This is a 9 p.m. show. On NBC.
If you want to get angry, you might start with stuff like that.
And you know who you’d be agreeing with?
Angus T. Jones.
Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Follow him on Twitter @mitchalbom. To read his recent columns, go to www.freep.com/mitch.