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On Jimmy Fallon, Jared Kushner, And The Problem With “Nice Guys”

Culture
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

What if all nice guys are actually bad?

Accompanying the recent New York Times profile of Jimmy Fallon is an image of the Tonight Show host in which he is depicted "arriving to work at 30 Rock," home to the Tonight Show soundstage. In the photo, Fallon is wearing a casual gray polo shirt and a pair of wrinkled pants, in which his iPhone's silhouette is clearly outlined in the right front pocket. He is carrying a briefcase, his arms are jauntily akimbo and matching his stride, and he sports the kind of earnest and eager grin of a kindergartener entering his first day of school. Fallon, as the Times caption points out, is 42.

The effect of this photo, and of the article itself, is to demonstrate the essential goodness of Fallon's character, his overall affability, all the ways in which he is just a regular, hard-working, and—most importantly—"nice guy." A year ago, the idea that Fallon would be in need of this type of image rehabilitation would have been unthinkable; Fallon's ascent from Saturday Night Live cast member to beloved talk show host (with a multi-year plateau in between as a middling film actor) was well-known, and, as many thought, well-deserved. As the latest host of the Tonight Show, Fallon was getting extraordinary ratings and breathing new life into the predictable routine of late-night television. The host had an uncanny ability to come up with bits that would go viral online and, as a result, was not only attracting a younger audience to a genre that had skewed quite old demographically but also transforming its long-held format, by deprioritizing the traditional monologue and putting emphasis on newer elements. It wasn't just that Fallon was changing late-night, he was redefining it. He was untouchable.

And then Donald Trump came along. Among the many, many things that Trump has ruined on his road to the presidency, surely the reputation of Fallon is among the least important, and yet it still bothers the host. The inciting incident occurred on September 15, when then-candidate Trump visited the Tonight Show and engaged in the predictably banal and goofy banter that generally ensues on shows such as these; the interview culminated in Fallon mischievously ruffling Trump's hair, as if Trump were some benign personage, rather than a man running one of the most divisive and despicable presidential campaigns in U.S. history. 

As the Times notes, the interview was followed by a "barrage of negative social media posts [that] gave way to damning appraisals in publications like Variety," with most people puzzled and furious over the way in which Fallon fawned over Trump. Fallon now insists that he wasn't trying to "humanize" Trump, but rather did it "almost to minimize him." The damage was done, though, and Fallon was viewed with skepticism and disgust by millions of Americans, who began to see an inescapable smarminess in Fallon's demeanor and an unwillingness to risk viewers by taking strong stands. Fallon's apolitical demeanor also stands in stark contrast to his late-night competitors; both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Kimmel have spoken out vociferously against Trump and his policies, and while both have faced backlash from conservative Americans, they stood strong in their anti-Trump stances.

Fallon, though, rather than reassess his stance on Trump, or even question why people were so upset with the way he basically flirted with a man who had been engaging in blatantly racist and xenophobic political propaganda on the campaign trail, doesn't appear to really be thinking about why people might have been hurt by his normalization, and just feels personally assaulted. As he tells the Times, "I’m a people pleaser. If there’s one bad thing on Twitter about me, it will make me upset. So, after this happened, I was devastated. I didn’t mean anything by it. I was just trying to have fun.”

"Just trying to have fun" is pretty much the rallying cry of every self-described "nice guy," who is trying to wiggle out of being called out for questionable behavior. And so it's no surprise that it's Fallon's defense now, seeing as how Fallon has long set himself up as the ultimate "nice guy," the sort who is just interested in having a good time and making people smile, and who doesn't know how to handle it when people are hurt by his actions. In the nice guy's mind, everything he does is in the pursuit of being nice and of making people smile and laugh; he thinks he's doing it for you, for us.

This isn't true, though, and that's clear in how Fallon characterizes his feelings following the Trump debacle. The truth is, "nice guys" aren't making people happy in order to make those people feel good, they're doing it in order to make themselves feel good. "Nice guys" are narcissists who think that because they are trying to make the world better—via laughter, say, or wellness apps—and because they are the only ones who know how to do it, that we should all be thankful for them and stop criticizing their actions. They mean well, and isn't that enough?

Not even close. Our world right now is populated by "nice guys." In some cases, these "nice guys" are people like Fallon, whose actions actually do have the potential to affect many people in a profound way; Fallon frequently gets a pass from others, who say that, as an entertainer, he doesn't need to be political. But by hosting Trump at all, Fallon was engaging with the political sphere, and his playfulness with Trump could have signified to voters that the candidate was not as monstrous as he otherwise seemed. "Nice guys" populate the world of tech, too; they are men like Uber's Travis Kalanick, who, in an effort to create technology that he is certain will change the world for the better, engages in duplicitous, damaging actions, which negatively affect his employees, his competitors, and have ripple effects in the tech industry and beyond.

Other "nice guys" have even more power to inflict damage, all while hiding behind ready smiles and eager demeanors. Think of Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law who is now in charge of bringing peace to the Middle East, despite the fact that his most prominent job prior to this was destroying the reputation and quality of a once-vaunted New York newspaper (a hatred for the media is clearly something which father- and son-in-law have in common). Kushner, and his wife, Ivanka, were often talked about as being moderating and even positive influences on Trump; they were thought to be a potential stabilizing force in the chaotic maelstrom of the White House. But why was Kushner so trusted? Was it because he was a relatively good-looking, seemingly easy-going guy who probably knows how to make ready small talk? Was it because he just looked like a "nice guy"?

Probably, yes. As publicist Peggy Siegal told Vanity Fair for a profile on Kushner, "Besides being devastatingly handsome, he is well mannered, well bred, and so well turned out." In a word: nice. What this means is that Kushner seems unthreatening, even as he facilitates $110 million arms deals for Saudi Arabia, a country which has been conducting a horrific bombing campaign in Yemen for months now. The reason why "nice guys" like Kushner and Fallon are so dangerous is precisely because they work so hard to seem like what they're not, perfecting images of benign industry and innocence—even posing for photos in which they appear to be personifying a five-year-old on his way to school.

But "nice guys" don't actually care about the effects of their actions—or, at least, they don't care about what effects their actions have on other people. Kushner, after all, despite being an Orthodox Jew whose grandparents survived the Holocaust, didn't care about the anti-Semitic rhetoric so prevalent among Trump supporters; what he cared about was his own personal experience of Trump; what he cared about was his own personal rise to power under his father-in-law's presidency. 

And Fallon? As he explained to the Times, his real problem with how his popularity has plummeted since he ruffled Trump's hair has little to do with how he might have hurt other people, and everything to do with how he himself was hurt. Fallon said, “If I let anyone down, it hurt my feelings that they didn’t like it. I got it.” We got it, too. And that's why this particular "nice guy" is currently finishing last in the ratings.

We also see Margot Robbie take on Sharon Tate

The new trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood gives a look at the Manson Family. In the previous clip, we saw Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio at their funniest. Now, we get to see Margot Robbie take on actress Sharon Tate, Lena Dunham become a cult member, and how the fictional and real-life story lines will intersect in the film.

Per a press release, the film—that follows a fictional story set around the time of the real-life Manson murders—"visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore."

In this clip, after being introduced to Dalton and Booth, viewers get to see how the latter ends up mingling with the Manson Family. As Booth picks up a girl (Margaret Qualley) on the side of the road, he unknowingly welcomes a Manson family member into his life and begins to visit their ranch. The fiction and real-life stories intersect when we find out that Dalton lives next store to Tate, who was murdered by the members of Charles Manson's cult in 1969.

Watch the new trailer for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood ahead of its July 26 theatrical release, below.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD - Official Trailer (HD) www.youtube.com

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photos by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

This photo proves that they are the chillest onscreen family

Sophie Turner just posted a photo of herself, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright—aka the Stark siblings—to her Instagram, showing just what the three used to get up to when the Game of Thrones cameras weren't rolling.

The photo shows Wright looking quite pleased with himself while sitting on a makeshift throne, wearing no pants. As he should be, seeing as (spoiler) his character, Bran, won the Iron Throne this weekend. Williams, meanwhile, is looking way too cool to be involved in the shenanigans, wearing a pair of black sunglasses and staring absently off-camera. As for Turner, she's looking away from her onscreen brother, too, nervously smoking a Juul.

"The pack survived," Turner captioned the photo.

This photo just goes to prove that the Stark siblings are the chillest onscreen family. (It also proves, yet again, that Turner's social media is an absolute delight.)

We're actually a little sad that this footage didn't make it into the final season, considering how many modern-day objects have been spotted in the show's last few episodes.

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Photo via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Meet Ashley

Miley Cyrus shared the trailer for her forthcoming Black Mirror episode, and it's basically Hannah Montana set in a dystopian future. Cyrus is a pink wig-wearing pop star named Ashley who is rolling out an in-home virtual assistant, named Ashley Too, that looks like her and shares her voice. But, as is the case with every Black Mirror episode, this technology is not as cute and fun as it's advertised to be.

In the trailer, we get the idea that Ashley is all about wanting fans to "believe" in themselves—but underneath that pink wig, maybe she doesn't feel that same self-love. After Ashley Too introduces herself to fan and new owner Rachel, promising to be her friend, we get a look at Ashley's darker side. She's depressed and tired of the pop star life. A record label executive says to several people in the room, "She doesn't understand how fragile all this is." As they consider upping her dose of medication, Ashley's life is on a downward slope. "It's getting so hard to keep doing this," she voices over glimpses of a police car chase, performances, and breakdowns backstage.

But back to the technology: Does Ashley's breakdown also mean the breakdown of Ashley Too? Looks like it. We see Rachel's virtual assistant screaming, "Get that cable out of my ass! Holy shit! Pull it out," breathing a sigh of relief as soon as they pull it out. A title card then reveals the episode name, "Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too."

Watch the full trailer and get a full view of Cyrus' cyborg-esque pop star look, below. Black Mirror returns to Netflix on June 5.


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Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer / Getty Images.

Several actresses allegedly had "issues" with him

Lena Waithe's Showtime series, The Chi, just lost one of its main characters. Jason Mitchell, who was also set to appear in the Netflix film Desperados, has been dropped from both projects following multiple allegations of misconduct. He has also been dropped by his agent and manager.

Hollywood Reporter heard from a source "with knowledge" of The Chi, who says that Tiffany Boone, the actress who plays Mitchell's girlfriend on the show, is just one of several actresses who had "issues" with him. She eventually told producers at Fox21 that she could no longer work with him after filing several sexual harassment complaints. Apparently, her fiancé, Dear White People co-star Marque Richardson, would join her on set when she would shoot with Mitchell.

While news of Mitchell's alleged misconduct is just now beginning to surface, it looks like the ball started rolling on the fallout weeks ago. He was dropped from Desperados and replaced by Lamorne Morris before filming began. A source from the production team said that the producers received "specific information" that they reviewed and acted on quickly. Similarly, a source familiar with Mitchell's former agent, UTA, said the decision to drop him a few weeks ago was very quick following the allegations.

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images

Prior to the college admissions scandal, she said she doesn't "care about school"

Apparently, Olivia Jade wants to go back to school despite all those YouTube videos that suggested otherwise. Back in March, it was revealed that her mom, Fuller House actress Lori Loughlin, and dad, Mossimo Giannulli, had scammed Jade's way into the University of Southern California. Now, Loughlin faces jail time, and Jade lost out on plenty of lucrative ad partnerships.

According to Us Weekly, "Olivia Jade wants to go back to USC," per a source. "She didn't get officially kicked out and she is begging the school to let her back in." Another source though ousted Jade's real motivation to the publication. "She knows they won't let her in, so she's hoping this info gets out," they shared. "She wants to come out looking like she's changed, learned life lessons and is growing as a person, so she for sure wants people to think she is interested in her education."

Jade previously shared in a YouTube video she's in college for the "experience of like game days, partying" rather than the education. She also said, "I don't know how much of school I'm going to attend... I don't really care about school, as you guys all know." Though these statements were made prior to the scandal coming to light, her brand partnerships didn't come into question until her parents were indicted.

Right now, despite previous reports that Jade and her sister would both be dropping out of USC, Jade's enrollment has been placed on hold—meaning she cannot register for classes, or even withdraw from the school—until her parents' court case comes to a close. Then, the school will make its own decision as to how Jade will be affected. I think, either way, she should have to pay off a few of her classmates' loans for all the BS she pulled.

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