For many people, Gay Talese is an icon of literature and journalism. But I suspect that most people, out in the world, have no idea who he is. You can read his Wiki here – I was always more of a Truman Capote fan, and I always thought Gay Talese was just the budget version of Capote (haters gonna hate, journalism-style). Anyway, Gay Talese is 85 years old. He’s still around and he’s still being invited to important events with important people. And when Gay Talese says something, it will probably be printed. He said something to Vanity Fair about Kevin Spacey and VF printed it. It was what many journalists would call a “bad take.”
Veteran journalist and Library Lion Gay Talese conferred with New York Times owner Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in one corner of Astor Hall before dinner. Talese, who has done as much as any writer to turn the magazine profile into an art form, broke away from his conversation to tell Vanity Fair about the one he would want to write right now.
“I would like to talk to Kevin Spacey,“ he said. News had come that afternoon that Netflix was cutting ties with the House of Cards star after multiple men had accused him of sexual harassment, beginning with actor Anthony Rapp, who told BuzzFeed that Spacey made a sexual advance towards him in 1986, when he was 14.
“I feel so sad, and I hate that actor that ruined this guy’s career,” continued Talese, who possibly had not kept up with the growing scope of the accusations online. “So, O.K., it happened 10 years ago . . . Jesus, suck it up once in a while!” Talese, visibly agitated, pressed on: “I would like to ask [Spacey] how it feels to lose a lifetime of success and hard work all because of 10 minutes of indiscretion 10 years or more ago.”
Gesturing to the roomful of media titans sipping champagne around him, he added, “You know something, all of us in this room at one time or another did something we’re ashamed of. The Dalai Lama has done something he’s ashamed of. The Dalai Lama should confess . . . put that in your magazine!”
What is it with men – and it’s always men – who think of sexual assault and rape as a mere inconvenience on the victim’s time? That happened in the Brock Turner/Stanford rape case too, where Brock Turner’s father referred to the rape as “20 minutes of action.” Ten minutes is a lifetime when you’re being assaulted or raped. And no one should have to “suck it up.” Is Gay Talese just awful, or is this the kind of stupid, dated hot-take from a very old man? I don’t know.
Photos courtesy of WENN.