The Esquire interview Michael Hainey did with Clint Eastwood (and his son Scott) is getting a lot of play, but it’s awful.
The Q&A is an example of dereliction of duty by the inquisitor, in much the same way that Maureen Dowd failed miserably in her early-campaign exchange with Donald Trump, treating him like a slightly naughty uncle, allowing him free reign to use the world greatest news organization to portray himself as something other than a dangerous bigot. Dowd seem to think it was a laugh riot at the time, though the campaign has since proved to be to serious as sin and literally riotous at times.
Trying to get a subject to talk himself into a corner usually isn’t a good gambit unless you’re willing to ask the tough questions once his nose hits the wall. If you accept the assignment and the conversation crosses into politics or race or any important matter, you best offer more than a nodding head and a blank slate for any opinion offered.
When Eastwood tells Hainey people troubled by racism (non-white folks, mostly) should “just get the fuck over it,” the interviewer should have pointed out to him that those same protesters might tell him to get over his dismay with their struggle for civil rights, a matter as grave as can be given our history of legal double standards based on skin color. It also would have been wonderful if the writer had pointed out to the actor-director that the reason many people call Trump a racist is because his pronouncements and policy proposals are often explicitly racist. That should have been the minimum expected of the interview, but, unfortunately, the empty chair at the 2012 RNC offered more pushback.
Your characters have become touchstones in the culture, whether it’s Reagan invoking “Make my day” or now Trump … I swear he’s even practiced your scowl.
Maybe. But he’s onto something, because secretly everybody’s getting tired of political correctness, kissing up. That’s the kiss-ass generation we’re in right now. We’re really in a pussy generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells. We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist. And then when I did Gran Torino, even my associate said, “This is a really good script, but it’s politically incorrect.” And I said, “Good. Let me read it tonight.” The next morning, I came in and I threw it on his desk and I said, “We’re starting this immediately.”
What is the “pussy generation”?
All these people that say, “Oh, you can’t do that, and you can’t do this, and you can’t say that.” I guess it’s just the times.
What do you think Trump is onto?
What Trump is onto is he’s just saying what’s on his mind. And sometimes it’s not so good. And sometimes it’s … I mean, I can understand where he’s coming from, but I don’t always agree with it.
So you’re not endorsing him?
I haven’t endorsed anybody. I haven’t talked to Trump. I haven’t talked to anybody. You know, he’s a racist now because he’s talked about this judge. And yeah, it’s a dumb thing to say. I mean, to predicate your opinion on the fact that the guy was born to Mexican parents or something. He’s said a lot of dumb things. So have all of them. Both sides. But everybody—the press and everybody’s going, “Oh, well, that’s racist,” and they’re making a big hoodoo out of it. Just fucking get over it. It’s a sad time in history.•