5 Times Expressing Emotion Ruined A Career
If there’s one thing I’ve been taught as a straight, white, American male, it’s that emotions are to be kept lodged squarely in a small, poisonous glob behind my solar plexus. Double the size if you’re British, and if you’re Catholic, inject a little fear of eternal damnation in there, too.
That said, the world is finally starting to loosen those bonds a little bit, which generally is a very good thing. Sure, there’s plenty of cringe mental health TikToks, but there’s also probably less murder-suicides.
But even with the leaps and bounds we’ve made, the strongest emotions are still preferably expressed behind closed doors, or at least in dark bar corners. Especially in the workplace, if you exhibit evidence that the weight of an uncaring world is eroding your soul like a millstone, your boss and coworkers might be concerned that it will affect your proficiency with Microsoft Excel. Remember, when you’re on the clock, humanity is a hurdle in the way of productivity! Even celebrities aren’t immune to a single ill-timed or ill-fated emotional outburst dropping the curtain on them.
To that end, here are five people whose emotions tanked their careers…
Howard Dean’s Excited Scream
Maybe one of the most famously devastating soundbites in political history was presidential hopeful Howard Dean’s fateful yelp. Though a few years back, it’s still brought up often today as a reminder of a time when volume alone was enough to disqualify you as a functional leader of the free world.
The most confounding thing in retrospect was that the surrounding subjects were entirely unobjectionable. It was a pretty standard stump speech, but apparently, in a fit of excitement, Dean’s vocal cords produced a sound strange enough to cut through the entirety of Democratic confidence in his future. George W. Bush was as dumb as a wet ditch, but at least he looked like he had a resting heart rate of about 15 beats per minute, so I guess people assumed he could handle the country.
The Dixie Chicks’ Disapproval of the Iraq War
At first, I wondered why so much of this article seemed to be pulled from the early-to-mid aughts. After some consideration, I don’t think it’s by chance, but a time of celebrity obsession, combined with a more placid world emotional climate where everyone wasn’t constantly testing the tensile strength of the single nerve keeping them from hurling themselves into the sea. It was also, blissfully, a time when celebrities weren’t expected to have political views, much less ones we should listen to. Now, for whatever reason, everyone wants Chris Pratt to weigh in on the historical ramifications of redlining before he’s allowed to play some old mayor or whatever. Sure, it’s an important discussion, but it’s not an important brain to have it with.
Back then, any sentence from a celebrity on politics that wasn’t “I wish for world peace” made them a de facto activist, something that colors any career, but when that career is country music? Hoo boy. The (then Dixie) Chicks found this out the hard way when they said at a London gig that they were “embarrassed” that George W. Bush was from Texas after he declared war on Iraq. We also have to remember that at the time, not supporting the war in Iraq was a bad thing. Now, most politicians wish they could claim the same thing. Regardless, one emotional denunciation of war read as light treason to an extremely red country music listenership, and the Chicks were basically stripped from the airwaves overnight.
Russell Crowe’s Furious Phone Toss
Now, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that Russell Crowe’s career is over. He’s still in plenty of movies, including the vastly underrated The Nice Guys. If you look at his filmography, though, there’s a notable turning point around the year 2005 where he went from a seeming perennial Oscar nominee to a bit more of a persona non grata. This lines up with a famous, though somewhat forgotten incident of unbridled hotel lobby rage.
In 2005, Crowe, already known for a bit of a temper, got in an altercation with a hotel worker that ended with Crowe hurling a phone at him. Being a bad boy is one thing, assaulting a random hotel worker is another, and it’s fair to argue that the incident cooled Hollywood on their newest golden boy. Of course, it can’t be all apologetic here, since it’s not an innocent or brave outburst like the earlier entry. If you’re hurling utilities at people, you actually are probably in need of some emotional adjustment. Still, that one moment of rage derailed his career to a slightly less skyward path.
Mel Gibson’s Hate for Basically Everybody
Now, if you want to talk about not-so-innocent emotional outbursts, let’s take a look at the next level: Mel Gibson. His choices of expression aren’t fitting for a lament about how celebrities are expected to behave, but a couple virulent emotional outbursts revealing that this guy, in fact, sucked big time. They should be old news, as should Gibson, but instead, we’re smack dab in the middle of an attempted renaissance that seems to suggest Gibson was just a bit of a spicy fella back then.
Gibson has so, so many emotions, many of them intertwined with opinions, and almost all of them would be better kept far away from anyone else. Between his absolute cornucopia of emotional and often alcohol-fueled outbursts, a lot of which are peppered with slurs, including everything from the n-word to calling Jews “oven-dodgers,” this is one career that probably should be six feet under. Instead, if I want to watch the new John Wick, I first have to decide how cool I am with a guy who said Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.
Let’s ascend from the abyss, and head to the world of sports. Something that obviously, visually, is wrought with emotion. If the results of a football game are making a random man in Los Angeles smash his TV just because he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan, you can imagine how strong they are for the people actually playing the games. Among all those emotions, there’s one specific brand that have become a boogeyman of sorts.
I’m talking about “the yips.” Existing across all sports, spoken about in hushed tones, the yips are a blanket term for when an athlete’s emotions overwhelm their talents. It might not show up on an X-ray, but a case of yips can send a player to the bench just as easily as a sprained ankle, and can be a career-ending injury all their own. Just a reminder that the body serves the mind, no matter how absolutely yoked that body is.
Eli Yudin is a stand-up comedian in Brooklyn. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @eliyudin and listen to his podcast, What A Time to Be Alive, about the five weirdest news stories of the week, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts.