Last week, Iron Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron star Robert Downey, Jr. walked out of an Avengers promotional interview after British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy decided to dive into the motivation behind a comment RDJ made in 2008 about the correlation between incarceration and progressivism. Here’s the offending utterance:

“I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics every since.”

It was an ambush seven years in the making.

Here’s what happened when Guru-Murthy decided to go all 60 Minutes on the actor during what was billed as a superhero movie promo spot:

Are we not all Robert Downey Jr. right now?

Guru-Murthy defended his interview tactics, but unfortunately for everyone not on the side of Iron Man, RDJ defended his, as well. On a recent appearance on the Howard Stern Show, RDJ called Guru-Murthy a “bottom-feeding muckraker” and defended the idea that we should be allowed to promote a movie without getting hounded over politics:

Speaking to US radio host Howard Stern, Downey Jr professed himself unrepentant about the incident, saying: “I just wish I’d left sooner.”

Downey Jr told Stern he did not believe that promoting a film meant that he had to delve into his past. “There’s an assumption that … because you’ve sat down there [in the interviewee’s chair], you’re going to be scrutinized like a kiddie fiddler who’s running for mayor,” the actor said.

“What I have to do in the future is … give myself permission to say, ‘That is more than likely a syphilitic parasite, and I need to distance myself from this clown.’ Otherwise, I’m probably going to put hands on somebody, and then there’s a real story.”

Downey Jr added that the film’s family-friendly nature made Guru-Murthy’s questions inappropriate.

“I’m one of those guys who is assuming the social decorum is in play and that we’re promoting a superhero movie, a lot of kids are going to see it. This has nothing to do with your creepy, dark agenda that I’m feeling, like, all of a sudden ashamed and obligated to accomodate your weirdo shit.”

The actor said that walking out of the interview had been a stressful experience. “My heart’s beating in my chest, this is the first interview of the day: what do you think – are you in Kumbaya land?”

I’m cycling through all the stages of Election 2016 right now, and about a week and a half ago I hit “Hatred of Politics.” I’m exhausted by it—and that exhaustion really has nothing to do with the politicians. The worst part of increased engagement in the political process is that, for better or for worse, it all goes back to left and right.

Robert Downey Jr. has spoken at length in serious interviews about his past, his politics, and his time at the bottom of the barrel. Guru-Murthy didn’t bring up a quote from 2008 because he wanted an authentic interview; he brought it up because incarceration is a hot button issue, and “whose side are you on???” is an even hotter one.

This is what we call a blistering take on a non-issue.

I believe in the right to enjoy life free from the trappings of looming outrage. I believe in the importance of unplugging from the sausage grinder and watching a movie about men in spandex saving the world. But most importantly, I believe in supporting people who take a stand against the ridiculous crap that passes for a Hot Take© on a Pressing Issue©, when all anyone wanted was to hear about a fun, family-friendly movie that isn’t meant to offend or exclude anyone.

Deal with it.


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