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Russell Crowe, Feeling Used, and Personal Integrity

I have been waging a war within myself for a while now: nagging questions of matters fraught with heaviness and importance. What really is our individual and collective purpose in the world and how can we make an indelible mark that both portrays our lightness and darkness with truth and honesty? More specifically, how do you teach your children to recognize assholes when they encounter them? And even more to the point, how do you teach them not to become one of those assholes?

And what does any of this that have to do with Russell Crowe? Peripherally very little, but a cautionary tale of a journalist's encounter with the Gladiator speaks volumes about my own cosmic inquiries of sincerity, genuineness and human nature.

Jack Marx is the writer turned "stooge."  He tells a tale of being groomed to be Russell Crowe's "champion," ostensibly for his musical outlet, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. But that's not exactly what happened. After reading a piece by Marx, a fellow Australian, lambasting tabloid media for exaggerating and fabricating celebrity stories, Crowe thought he had found a like mind in his crusade to cleanse his public taint – a taint brought on by his own brooding and boorish behavior.

They met, Marx was wary but intrigued and what followed was a sordid tale of manipulation, disengenuousness, bait and switching and glad-handing by Mr. Crowe, and hand wringing and soul-searching by Mr. Marx. 

If we can turn down the microscope to the molecular level, we can spy on the smaller story here in Randomville: it's not the Oscar parties, but the PTO; not personal assistants, but classroom parent helpers; it's not magazine cover stories but the local newspaper's Notably Noted; there are no chauffer limos, but biggest SUV owner; and instead of palatial ranches we have manicured lawn mavens, and so on and so forth. These are the trivial matters of suburban life where things aren't so grand and sweeping, but they needle at your soul just the same.

We live in a small upper-middle class suburb in Ohio. We, through good fortune and the generosity of loved ones, have been afforded a life that gives the illusion of having more "good fortune" than truly exists. Ours is a borrowed life of artisans honing our craft, bartering our present for future success. Only time will tell if reality catches up with the projection, but to the outside we seem like everyone else in our insular Rockwellian world. 

So what do Mr. Marx and I have in the common? We are both searching ourselves for our motives and intentions.  For his part, Mr. Marx doesn't want to be the royal ass-kisser to the resident King Crowe in exchange for worldly possessions to the detriment to his craft and personal code of ethics, and I don't want to spend my hours dealing with annoying parents, their rude children, and pushy school officials to guarantee that my daughter is in the right group, most popular or most recognized; or, worse yet, to make my life seem just a little more important to a handful of people who are jealous because, they too, wish they were PTO President or whatever silly title is being handed out.

And therein lies the conundrum: is it so wrong for Russell Crowe to want to micromanage his PR against the world of prying eyes and paparazzi who seek to capture his downfall by handpicking and befriending journalists to write glowing reports of his benevolence and graciousness?  Is it wrong for stay-at-home moms to seek a modicum of personal recognition and regional esteem for dedicating their every waking hour to fundraisers, bake-offs and room-mother duties?  Is it wrong for Jack Marx and myself to find attempts of both parties self-serving, pathetic and reeking of self-congratulatory desperation?

No, no, and no. 

About Dawn Olsen

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    how do you teach your children to recognize assholes when they encounter them?

    Sit them down, log onto DJRadiohead.com, and play them any episode of The DJRadiohead Podcast Experience.

    Or BCRadio- the parts when their mom and dad aren’t talking. Which in the case of the episodes when their dad is on isn’t much. See? There I go again.

    Well done, Dawn.

  • Dawn

    Well, it’s funny you should mention your podcast as asshole teaching device (I mean that in the nicest way) – I was just telling Eric that there are a few people out there I would love to meet in person based on their online persona – you were included in that very small group of people.

    Thanks for being kind for all the right reasons :)

  • Eric Olsen

    no one likes to feel used, but as always I think you are a bit sensitive about this stuff – we are certainly among the most interesting people in town!

    Your analogies are interesting and make a lot of sense

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    Having flashbacks to when being called ‘interesting’ was tantamount to being called the class weirdo.

    I am not giving up on Vegas yet. You may yet have the opportunity to eat those words.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    uh oh….i think i still get called “interesting”.

  • Mike A.

    What the fuck are you talking about??? Id say the A holes are you and Marx.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    very classy.

  • Dawn

    Mike,

    Dude, I am complete asshole, but knowing it’s half the battle, when are YOU going to come to terms with your own obvious whole ass self?

    I will say the post is a little confusing – duly noted. They can’t all be gems of clarity.

  • Jas

    If anybody would actually like to read the article about Russell Crowe, it’s right here…

    a great read

  • Dawn

    Jas, I linked to the story in my post, and yeah, it’s a great piece. The writing is exceptional.

  • Mary Anne

    If you’re looking for a good way to teach your kids to recognize the assholes of the world…..then you better get somebody else to teach them, because it seems as if you believe everything you hear…or read. If you’d bothered to find out a little about Jack Marx, instead of embracing him just because his words get into print, you might have discovered he has a track record for this kind of thing…..other writers have dismissed him as the worst kind of self-serving hack.

    He said right in the beginning of the piece that he had visions of big cars and fine things as soon as he heard Mr. Crowe’s name, and he was willing to lie to someone he says he neither liked nor respected in order to score those things. In fact, he’s open about his contempt for the man, while kissing up and wanting to be his best friend. He doesn’t deliver work he’s promised to do, but is upset when his services are no longer required.

    Do your homework. He’s written other schlock, about other people, and it all has the same theme.

    After you find out something of the kind of person he is…..can you be sure that everything he’s written is the absolute truth??

    Go back and read the article again, and this time, try to read between the lines. Try to pay attention to what the author is actually saying, not the spin he’s putting on it. And then decide who the asshole is.

    Don’t just swallow everything the world sets in front of you, in print or otherwise; it helps everyone if you learn to practice a little critical reading before repeating as truth things of which you actually have no knowledge.

  • Brewster Jennings

    “They met, Marx was wary but intrigued…”

    Read: “They met, Marx got dollar signs in his eyes…”

    “…and hand wringing and soul-searching by Mr. Marx.”

    Read: “…and wondering how he could make as much capital out of this as possible by Mr Marx.”

    “If you’d bothered to find out a little about Jack Marx…”.

    Indeed. Check out this review of his book “Sorry – The Wretched Tale Of Little Stevie Wright” which paints Mr Marx, presumably from his own description of his activities at the time that he wrote the book, as a delightful fellow:

    “…on one hand he tries to get the reader to see Wright’s excesses and indulgences in a negative light but yet he describes himself getting so heroically drunk that he can’t remember whether or not he has raped a woman the night before”

    …or…

    “…he only shoots up on the odd occasion, he drinks hard and drives with skill even at high speed and when alcohol effected”.

    Seems like a charming chap. Not at all like the kind of ruffian who might throw a telephone at someone (but it’s a good job Nestor Estrada wasn’t taking a walk down any Australian country roads a few years ago).

  • http://www.tresbleu/blogspot.com Sister Ray

    I don’t get the connection between Crowe’s alleged boorishness and the PTO. Did they ask you to do publicity for them and then snub your efforts?

  • Dawn

    It’s called an analogy. If I have to explain it, I guess that means my point wasn’t made.

    And as for Jack Marx being an asshole in this story, it is you Mary, who needs to read the piece again.

    Jack was telling a pretty old tale of temptation and I thought he did it quite well.

    Sheesh, what a frothy crowd this story has conjured up.

  • http://victorplenty.blogspot.com Victor Plenty

    The PTO analogy is a tad short on details. I can’t quite figure out whether the events mentioned in relation to it are hypothetical or actual events.

    The general meaning of your analogy is clear enough to me, but the shortage of details did pique my curiosity. I almost asked for more details about it, but then I realized you might have left the details out intentionally to avoid distracting the reader from your main points about Mr. Crowe and Mr. Marx.

    Perhaps in a way, Sister Ray also finds your life more interesting than Crowe’s or Marx’s drolly generic celebrity misdeeds.

  • Dawn

    The PTO reference is a general one. There is a specific story that I was referring to that has nothing to do with the PTO – an organization that I try to avoid at all costs because of the very machinations at work in the Russell Crowe story. Who wants to do the grunt work for people, so they can claim all the rewards and give you nothing in return? I was vague for a reason, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, unlike the common courtesy not afforded to my child.

    Yes I am sensitive, but its the sensitive people of the world who pick up on the subtle, yet important nuances that separate us from the animals.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    Yes I am sensitive, but its the sensitive people of the world who pick up on the subtle, yet important nuances that separate us from the animals.

    wish I‘d written that.

  • http://www.djradiohead.com DJRadiohead

    It’s kind of funny when people miss the point of your column and call you the asshole. It makes me think the commenter is either a moron or decided to comment without the benefit of, oh I don’t know, actually reading the fucking piece in the first place. That’s good form- run your mouth without knowing what the fuck you’re talking about.

    Dawn, your point was well made. And I’m with Saleski. That’s a excellent observation in #16.

  • Leni

    Lets see, you don’t mind attacking Russell Crowe for traits and actions written by a selfconfessed jerk, but you don’t mind making money off the Amazon ads for his CD and movies. Seems like you are Marx are cut from the same obnoxious cloth. Unlike you I have been in Russell Crowe’s presence and found him to be kind, gracious, talented and down to earth. I’ll stick with that while you and your ilk barter in gossip.

  • Eric Olsen

    Leni, your experience completely negates every bit of well-documented loutish, violent, drunken, stupid, assholish, manipulative, narcissistic behavior that has collectively generated Crowe’s reputation – right?

  • http://www.tresbleu/blogspot.com Sister Ray

    I never called anyone an asshole. I was just seeking clarification. I read it and I didn’t quite understand. Apparently the PTO in your town did something you think was wrong or rude. I understand you don’t want to blab every detail, especially if it involves your kid. I know what an analogy is, I just didn’t understand the one here.

  • Alex

    I understand the point you’re trying to make in this piece but I don’t understand how an article written by anyone about someone you don’t know personally can answer the question of how to recognize a$$holes or how to avoid being an active member of the PTO. Kind of pointless from the start.
    If you did some real investigation into the articles written and reports made about Mr. Crowe, you’d find that 99% of the negative ones come from people who have never met him and know nothing but baseless rumors about any given situation. Has he done some stupid things in his life? Yes, and he’s the first to admit to them and face the consequences for them. But, I’m sure you can’t relate to that because you’ve never done anything stupid. (Except write this article)
    Like Leni, I’ve met Mr. Crowe and found him to be a very nice, thoughtful, well read and most interesting man. He has a very strong presence and I suppose some people might take that as aggressive, even if he’s just talking about the weather. Can he be curt? Yes, he does not suffer fools well. That does not mean he’s “…loutish, violent, drunken, stupid, assholish, manipulative, narcissistic…” Words of that kind are reckless, unkind, and uncalled for, especially when you don’t know the man at all.
    I just think that before using someone in an article as an example, good or bad, you might try to do a little research so you can speak from a point of actual knowledge.

  • Eric Olsen

    Alex, I don’t think anyone doubts that Crowe can be charming, engaging, interesting, magnetic, etc, AND he’s a excellent actor too.

    But that doesn’t change the fact that he has also done all these other things that establish a pretty clear pattern. Or should all those incidents be ignored because he was nice to you when you met him?

    Obviously he can both be charming and an asshole.

    And Dawn’s analogy to her life could have been a bit clearer, but she was concerned about protecting the innocent, semi-innocent, and mildly guilty, because we aren’t talking about capital crimes here.

  • skwg

    I’m a serious fan of Russell Crowe’s movies as well as most of his music, but after reading the article by Jack Marx, my gut feeling says Mr. Marx is telling the truth. It doesn’t change my admiration of Mr. Crowe physically and his talents, but somehow I don’t think he’d be a very pleasant person to deal with on any level. He sounds quite paranoid & somewhat removed from reality. Just imagine the yes-people by whom he’s surrounded & the abuse they must take. It kind of makes me feel sorry for Danielle, too. Hope he’s nicer to his family than he is to his “staff”.

  • Mary Anne

    You know, I ought to be able to let this go, but I just can’t.

    Have you read your comment policy? It says personal attacks are not allowed. Here, I’ll quote you some of it:
    “We will edit/delete…..unsupported accusations, personal attacks of any kind…..”

    Looks to me like someone’s not doing his job….at least not on your blog……unless Mr. Crowe is not being given the same consideration as anonymous persons…..Talking sh*t about somebody that you know nothing about except what you read in the tabs or in the blogs of jealous hacks seems to me to fulfill the definition of ‘unsupported’.

    Perhaps the reason your analogy generated some confusion is because you were reaching a bit to compare Mr. Crowe with the anonymous member of your PTO (and there’s an easy fix, by the way, for your problems with that organization :) ) Were you just trying to say that this PTO person is an asshole? There, that was easy, wasn’t it?

    And believe me, you don’t want to identify yourself with Marx. Here’s a little nugget of info about the weasel, in case you’re interested : he used to write for the Melbourne TRUTH, an x-rated little publication, not a magazine really, more like a newspaper, but specializing in sex and dirt.

    “But that doesn’t change the fact that he [Crowe] has also done all these other things that establish a pretty clear pattern.”

    What ‘all other things’ are you talking about, Eric? I think we have another person here that believes everything he reads……

    “The fact” is that some of you apparently believe that just because it’s in print, it’s true, when in fact, a great deal of what is printed (and reprinted, and reprinted, ad nauseum) is just crap. “The fact” is that you don’t know what’s true or not unless you’re involved…..or unless you can read critically (yes, I know, I’m flogging a dead horse) and logically, instead of just soaking it all in like a sponge…..Marx is a good writer, there’s no denying that; now if he were just a better person, then I think you’d have some kind of basis for your point…..about recognizing assholes. Remind me, how did you say one should do that?

    Oh, and by the way, did you notice the number of times Jack uses sexual references when he’s talking about ol’ Rusty? Like, if he was a woman, he’d sleep with him, etc….Count ‘em, you’ll need both your hands……I’m wondering if Master Jack had a little bit of a crush…..you know, there’s no fury like a [insert word of your choice] scorned.

  • gonzo marx

    ummm Mary Anne….you are talking about the “comment policy”…which is far different from the editorial policy of the actual Articles

    see the difference?

    as for anything written about Crowe in an Article, that falls under public figure laws, which make for different rules surrounding slander and libel…

    last bit…note the Author of the original article, clue for you…perhpas the wife of the man who owns this website? i would guess she is well aware of any Policy…

    about Crowe, i have no opinion , or interest…i noticed the comment

    just sharing…

    Excelsior?

  • Mary Anne

    Rereading this series of comments, something occurs to me……have I wandered into a coffe klatch sort of a thing, semi-private, a cosy bunch of friends doing their thing on the ‘net? If so, I apologize. I didn’t mean to intrude. I’m used to the very public places where there are lots of varying responses.

    Re my comment about the policies: I actually kinda figured the policies were different; my comment about the inequities I perceived was perhaps blurry……and slander and libel laws were not in my mind at all. Common decency would put paid to any of those kinds of concerns.

    I came upon the marx article, and yellow journalism makes me see red, so I googled it and visited some of the places around the net that were discussing it….this one was mentioned at a Crowe fansite. I’m surprised you didn’t have more Crowe fans down on you…..Perhaps they caught the flavor of the blog more quickly than I.