The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In this corner...Jon Lovitz?

The name “Jon Lovitz” jumped out at me on the radio, because he’s an alumnus of UCIrvine, which Nicki is about to enter. Apparently, he got into an altercation with comedian Andy Dick at a Comedy Club, during which he slammed Dick’s head into the bar until his nose bled. The provocation? Well…apparently, years back Dick gave comedian Phil Hartman’s wife cocaine at a party. She’d been off the stuff, relapsed, and some time after this point murdered her husband in a drug and alcohol-fueled nightmare.

After an argument of some kind, Dick said he would put the “Curse of Hartman” on Lovitz (who was said to be a good friend of Hartman), and the fun began.

The radio was buzzing with “controversy” about the legitimacy of Lovitz’ actions. Most callers said Dick was asking for it, and the radio co-host pretty much agreed. The host was outraged (I suspect that the outrage was manufactured for the sake of controversy, but that’s just an opinion.) I thought I’d weigh in.

1) By no means do I agree with Lovitz’ actions. Period. I would hope that I would never do such a thing. Period.

2) Did I hear right, that he “slammed Dick’s head into the bar” suggests that there was alcohol involved. Alcohol is notorious for thinning the wall between emotion and logical restraint.

3) Dick’s comedy seems to be based on how offensive he can be without getting hit. Looks like he overshot.

4) Lovitz kicked someone’s ass? I wouldn’t have thought he had it in him. Then again, I hear Lou Costello was actually the hard-line ass-kicker of the “Abbott and Costello” team. (Once, in fact, he demanded that Universal bill him first. The studio rep sniffed and said that the company hadn’t hired “Costello and Abbott”)

5) You curse a drunk man and simultaneously insult the memory of a friend of his, whose death you may have contributed to. Let me think…throughout the world, throughout time, has this kind of behavior led to butt-whipping? Death? Would you look at “Romeo and Juliet” and notice the fantastically slight provocations that led to swordplay in the street? Thumb biting in one’s general direction? Oh, please. I suspect that the contexts in which one could reasonably expect to get away with such nonsense would represent a tiny, tiny fraction of human history. The norm is not “walking away with dignity.” The norm is bloodshed. Dick depended on Lovitz being more civilized than 99.9% of humanity over more than 99.9 percent of our history has ever been. I would admire Lovitz for walking away. But kicking Dick’s ass? Seems perfectly predictable to me.

6) A man walking into a tough bar with hundred-dollar bills hanging out of his pockets, has the right not to be robbed. A woman walking naked into a room full of sex offenders has the right not to be raped. But we’d know they were idiots, wouldn’t we? Andy Dick was an idiot, and what happened to him is exactly what I would warn my son would happen were he to behave in the same way. I see nothing to be outraged about. In fact, were I on the jury, I’d be searching for an excuse to call it self-defense. Did ANYONE see Dick touch him first? Was Dick taller, that Lovitz might feel in fear for his life? Was there a lump anywhere on Dick’s clothes that might have been mistaken for a weapon..?

No? You’re sure? Oh, darn…

Anyway. While I wouldn’t want to behave that way, and wouldn’t want my son to behave that way, or a friend, I doubt I’d disown my kid or sever ties with a friend who did. In fact, I know I wouldn’t. Guess I can’t completely escape the barbarian in my soul.

Lest we forget: perfectly civilized societies had dueling to discourage rudeness. People who behave like Dick depend upon others behaving at a higher level of decency than they themselves are willing to offer. Hard not to think that the existence of the Jon Lovitz’ of the world keep such people…thoughtful. I like thoughtful people. They’re polite.

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