In 2013, I quite enjoyed covering the Alec Baldwin beat. He was his own worst public enemy and good for gossip. He was going to quit show business, quit New York and quit social media. He was constantly freaking out on the paparazzi, leading to a cycle of goading and fighting and fighting and goading.
In the midst of the drama his daughter Carmen was born, and he and wife Hilaria sold the first photos to PEOPLE (click here for a refresher). A little more than a year after his “I Give Up” New York cover), he is still acting, still tweeting and still being Alec Baldwin, if a kinder, gentler version. It’s been a while since we’ve been treated to a c-nty diatribe on the machinations of theatre.
Of course Alec never gave up. He is still playing, and he still CARES, as evidenced by the new Baldwin family photos in US Weekly. So Carmen gets PEOPLE and Rafael gets US Weekly. One is a respected, publicist-sanctioned magazine, the other still veers on the tabloid side (even if US consistently proves its worth by being right). Why?
The most obvious reason is the permeation of social media (Hilaria is extremely active on Instagram); there is simply less demand for a baby “exclusive.” The Baldwins aren’t Brad and Angelina, they don’t need to go underground when they have a baby. Rafael’s photo isn’t going to sell for 6 figures, or as Brad once called it, life-changing money. No one is trying to cut a hole in the hospital ceiling to get to Hilaria. In short, the demand for the photos just isn’t there.
Also, the idea of family photos is quickly becoming old-fashioned. Readers have so many options when it comes to looking at pictures; blogs and again, social media (which has become more and more visually stimulating) are increasingly the go-to, so traditional photos are less appealing. We need the voyeurism/creeping satisfaction that comes with looking at Instagram. The lighting and styling and hair and makeup in photo shoots isn’t any less engineered than putting a filter on a photo, but I think a reader’s thirst for candidness gets temporarily scratched by scrolling through someone’s feed and analyzing selfies. (Even if selfies can be more artificial than a magazine spread.) Our aesthetic taste is slowly but surely changing.
So why would Alec even bother with US? He genuinely seems proud of his wife and children and happy with his life. Positive press. Hilaria is writing a book and won’t be able to promote it through social media alone. And Alec has been famous most of his adult life, so really this is part of his job. It’s what he does. And as much he loves to bitch and as much as we love to laugh about his bitchiness, Alec will show up for an ego stroke while lamenting the end of New York, the end of theatre, the end of art itself.
Click here to see more photos.