I don’t know how it happened, but as of today, Bret Easton Ellis has surpassed Donald Trump as Twitter’s worst troll. It’s unfortunate. While I’ve never been the biggest fan of Ellis’ fiction — as a New York City kid, every cell of my body rejected the nihilistic bullshit of Less Than Zero — I know that Ellis is an important literary figure, and it’s impressive that he continues to be relevant, unlike some of his ‘80s contemporaries. I do love his thoughts on fame, and I thought that his essay about the Charlie Sheen calamity was the best thing written about that crash and had the smartest observations about the Celebrity Industrial Complex written last year.
I used to enjoy reading about what he thinks in short form on Twitter.
I won’t go into a whole history of Ellis’ tweeting, but I will say that the amazing thing about his feed when he first began in earnest was how little he cared. He was there to shock with tweets such as this one from April 2011:
Wow! Awful! But it’s not like any other famous people write tweets like this one, so it was certainly interesting. And when he employed that I-do-not-give-a-shit honesty to take on Nikki Finke over the summer, it was impossible not to cheer him on.
No longer the case.
Ellis yearns for a movie career, and his need is overwhelming. He waged an active campaign to write the adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey that involved many late-night Twitter explosions about casting. It seemed manic — and it was also annoying. When he didn’t get the job a few months ago, he did not react well:
Sad, right? But while I wouldn’t write that, I could almost admire it: He didn’t get what he wanted, and he’s lashing out. It’s definitely pathetic. But maybe it’s brave.
Something has happened recently, though, that has turned me — and, as far as I can tell, many, many people — off entirely. He alternates between hyping his self-financed movie The Canyons and slamming the work of successful filmmakers. My mother told me at a young age that yearning, angry envy will not get you what you want and, well…it’s repellent!
Those are from this week. There were more, but I’ll spare you if you didn’t see them. As that outburst was happening, my Twitter timeline was full of open mockery of Ellis. I can only imagine he doesn’t care (from what I can tell, he’s never responded to anyone on Twitter, ever). I think he must be engaging in what he complimented Charlie Sheen for: “We are watching someone profoundly bored and contemptuous of the media engaging with the media and using the media to admit things about themselves and their desires.”
OK, fine. My desires are that my Twitter experience be a clean, well-lighted place. Which doesn’t mean agreeing with everyone all the time. But I don’t want to fly into a rage when I have a browser open at work or look at my phone for a few minutes. I know there are people who use Twitter — and the Internet — for rageful reasons. I wish Bret Easton Ellis weren’t one of them, because sometimes I’m fascinated by his opinions, even when I don’t feel the same way.
That is literally a dumb thing to say and think. It’s the final straw for me. Please let me know if he reverses course, everybody.
Update: I think this tweet below is BEE’s blustery way of saying I upset him. Thank you, Twitter follower who told me about this; I had unfollowed him and never would have seen it.