Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A sceptic's atonement

A label I have no objections to being slapped with is that of 'sceptic'. To be sceptical of outlandish claims is a trait that no person could ever be ashamed of, and more sceptics are needed in society to act as firewalls for bad information. The following story is about my spectacular failure to provide this service.

Last month sometime, after a trip to the cinema, I was in the car with Mega. We were having another one of those incredible exchanges of intellect, speaking on a level few people can manage:

Mega, how come Vin Diesel hasn't been in any films lately?

It's cos he's gay.

Really? I never heard that.

Oh yeah - big scandal. All over the papers.

Wow. I completely missed that. Is it true?

Yup - the newspapers were going to break the story, so he beat them to it and came out of the closet.

Makes sense, I suppose. Amazed I never heard of it.
A few days later, I'm at my father's house. XXX is on the TV, its cacophony of screaming and explosions providing my father with the kind of ambience he needs to enjoy his Sunday paper.
Watching XXX eh?
He doesn't look up from his paper as he mutters his response.
Yup.
To jump-start the conversation I throw out an interesting nugget of information:
Y'know one of the stuntmen died during the making of this film?
The paper drops below his eye line. He peers at his grotesquely over sized TV unblinkingly as the protagonist rides a scrambler around the most explosive compound ever captured on film, performing any number of daring manoeuvres that could conceivably end a man's life.
Of course - they never said which scene it was that killed him.
My words break the spell and he glances at me.
That's amazing all the same. I can see how somebody'd get hurt. Where'd you hear that?

I watched the director's commentary on DVD a few years back.
He nods silently. Then turns back to his paper. The conversation is drying up, so I scan for any more interesting tidbits relating to the film. After mulling it over for a half-second, I decide to proceed:
Here's something else you don't know. Y'know Vin Diesel?

Yer man there with the baldy head, yeah?

Yeah.

What about him?

Y'know how he hasn't been in any films lately?

I hadn't noticed, but why hasn't he been in any films?

Because he's a homosexual.
Silence. My father looks at me in disbelief. It could have something to do with my odd word-choice. I blurt out what little details I have:
He was outed as being gay a few years ago and hasn't been able to get work since - noone takes him seriously anymore.
Vin Diesel drives his bike through a group of AK-47 toting henchmen who fall like a set of skittles, spraying bullets as they do.
Y'mean he's a queer?
A helicopter rolls into the shot. I'm already shaking my head at my father, regretting my decision to set him off.
I can see why nobody would take him seriously, so.
Vin Diesel looks around the compound, looking for an escape route as the helicopter's minigun whirrs up.
The guy who has been driving around breaking necks is actually a hairdresser?
Vin Diesel charges forward on his bike, hitting a conveniently placed ramp that launches him onto a slanted corrugated rooftop that he uses to jump onto the next, the action tracked by chronic-Parkinson's-afflicted cameramen.

My father was beginning to splutter through his self-congratulatory chuckles
You mean to tell me that this super-duper-secret-agent would be an airhostess if he wasn't killing for a living?
A series of great big bassy booms accompany the barn's explosion, as a mess of debris and glowing orange flames thunder towards our hero, eventually engulfing him. A split second later, he triumphantly emerges from the blaze, seemingly unperturbed by the amount of death he had to defy at once. And yet:
I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at him the same again. I wish you hadn't told me that!
I knew that my father's exaggerated display of homophobia was just him joking around, but his closing remarks made me lament the fact that I had passed on information I didn't verify for myself.

The following morning I decided to use the Internet to verify Vin Diesel's sexuality:


'Vin Diesel Slams Gay Rumours'. 19 keystrokes was all it took to rubbish Mega's story of a decloseted action star, yet by the time I looked it up, the damage had been done.

Next time I met with my father, I came clean and admitted that I had passed on bad info. He looked at me funny. Seems he "didn't give a flying fuck anyhow". My sleeping pattern returned to normal.

That's the thing about being a sceptic: there's always a logical explanation - it might just be a bit of research away. The question still stood though. Why hadn't I seen much of Vin Diesel in a whiel? Was his credibility hurt in some way? Didn't take long to figure this one out.

4 comments:

Sully said...

Interesting fact: this blog entry was originally called "Fuck you, Mega"

[And for those particular about such things, my tense molesting is intentional - even if it is a habit I intend on growing out of eventually]

Will Knott said...

You also might have checked his imdb profile
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0004874/

he's been a bit busy behinds the scenes as well as in front.

Sully said...

Thanks for that, Will!

Truth be told, this wasn't exactly a well-researched, hard-hitting expose or anything, but I could have at least given the man's imdb a cursory glance!

MEGA said...

Im sorry. He is gay tho.