We don’t often talk about Macaulay Culkin—and I prefer it that way— but recently he’s been out in public, doing things and saying stuff. This week he was on Ellen DeGeneres, and last month he popped by The Tonight Show, tolerating questions about Home Alone and his time as a child star in order to promote his podcast and mock lifestyle brand, both named Bunny Ears. You can check out the site here.
Culkin describes it as “Goop meets The Onion”, and you can definitely see that slant, with sections covering Diet & Exploration, Proclivities, and Upscale Culture, and the news ticker features items like Forever 21 turns 34 and Bitcoins revealed to be Pogs all along (which is a great line). It’s not bad, and they picked up internet comedy heavyweights Daniel O’Brien and Michael Swaim, lately of Cracked, so this is not some half-assed lark of the “essentially retired” former child star. This is a legit effort to build a comedy site and podcast, and Culkin has brought in internet comedy writing pros to that end.
It’s also why he’s out promoting on talk shows. He didn’t do the rounds for his pizza-themed cover band, but for Bunny Ears, he’s extending himself. And it’s not just the talk shows—there’s social media, too. He has a Twitter and an Instagram. This is the most accessible Culkin has been since…the 1990s. So why is he emerging into the sunlight now? Well, Bunny Ears is clearly not an eccentric goof. It has a staff, and Culkin’s friends are involved. He’s always been supportive of his friends, willing to stick his head out to get them a little attention. That’s why he was interviewed by Vulture a couple years ago, to stir up interest in his mate’s Aladdin movie project.
Bunny Ears looks like it’s meant to be a going concern, and it’s one employing his friends. OF COURSE Culkin will throw his considerable star-weight behind it, even if it makes him uncomfortable. And while he’s game and smiling in these interviews, if you watch long enough, you can see his hands start to shake (especially on Fallon). I don’t think this is easy for him, and while he’s willing to put himself out there, writing and podcasting are in some ways less demanding than performing.
For one thing, you don’t have to pretend to be anyone else. And for another, with writing and podcasting, the relationship to the audience is totally different. In this medium, you publish something and your audience finds you. If you want to stay in your niche, that’s cool—you never have to leave it, because your audience is in there with you. But with acting, especially at the level Culkin did it, you’re always under pressure to widen the audience, hook more people, expand the fanbase.
With Bunny Ears, Culkin can do a couple talk shows and goose awareness for his new venture, but he doesn’t have to do press several times a year, every year. I’m not sure I’m explaining this well, but as someone who once performed and now writes, I can tell you the work isn’t any less, or easier, but the level of engagement is much more manageable. I control how much I want to interact with people on any given day. I can see how this would appeal to Culkin, as he gets to set the tone and decide how available he wants to be. Macaulay Culkin has come the closest to the spotlight he’s stood in years, but it’s on his terms. Good.
Check out Culkin on Ellen: