Something has really been bothering me, and there is really no other way to say it. Chevy Chase is, well, kind of a dick. See, growing up my family and I would watch Christmas Vacation every year. It is truly a classic and is our family’s “Christmas movie” in a way, much like lesser families flock to Jingle All The Way or something. Anyway, I’ve always been a big SNL fan as well, and so I’ve always been a big follower of Chevy Chase and his career. Hell, I’ve even watched The Chevy Chase Show on youtube (yeah, cancellation was the right call there) which only lasted five weeks. And throughout it all, I’ve always heard rumblings about the man behind the scenes; that he was difficult to work with, arrogant, stand-offish, and just an all around dick sometimes. But I pushed it aside. I figured there were complexities of the entertainment industry I didn’t know about, and that being a bit self-centered just came with the job. I can forgive it. The man still makes me laugh.
But it is time to be blunt. The man has had a few successes. Most based either upon SNL or National Lampoon. And most of his successes are 30 years old or more. He went from being a pretty handsome fellow that was in movies with other great actors to being a washed up old man that put on pounds for every hair he lost. He went on to have a string of failures, including his “talk show” that failed spectacularly, and then basically fell off the grid. The world moved on without him. But then he was offered a role in a new sitcom on NBC, which has basically employed him on and off for the past 40 some-odd years. He accepted his casting as Pierce Hawthorne on Community, and the show has resulted in great success. He has basically reinvented his career and made an entire generation of new fans come to love him. Older fans will always remember him for his older roles, but his legacy got a chance to live longer with this opportunity. He’s done great at it, and the show has become a cult-classic. And you know what he did? Right when the show was being saved from cancellation, he started stirring up rumors that he would quit. What a dick.
Now, to be fair, it sounds like he and series creator Dan Harmon have had issues since the beginning. And Dan isn’t a saint in this; apparently after Chase walked off the set during the Season 2 finale (in which he also left the study group in the show), Dan gave a scathing rebuke towards Chase in front of his wife and daughter. Not cool Dan. Chase responded by leaving a diatribe on Dan’s voicemail, which can be heard here. To quote the voicemail, Chase says “I don’t get talked to like that by anybody. Certainly not in front of my wife and daughter, you goddamn asshole alcoholic fat shit.” Yeah, not a great situation to be sure. Furthermore, “Chase has been very open about how much he dislikes Pierce and the show in general. While he’s praised his castmates and referred to them as his “family,” a year ago he told the Huffington Post, “this is certainly not my kind of thing. I probably won’t be around that much longer, frankly.”
On a certain level I get it. If you have artistic integrity, you should stand up and say something when you think there is poor writing going on. And if the show’s creator calls you out, you should stand up for yourself and your family. But if you are getting called out because you are talking crap about the show, the show’s medium, and the writing staff, then maybe you deserved it in the first place. I think what irritates me the most is that it isn’t some critically acclaimed actor we’re talking about here. It is someone who has had a troubled career and more than a decade of nothing going on. He’s had show’s fail in 5 weeks and yet he’s complaining about a show that he’s starring in that is about to go into it’s (hopefully, and quite likely) fourth season. And Community has reinvigorated his career. Sure, he might not need the money, but it certainly should be his focus, if he has that “integrity”, to be remembered and praised rather than quietly forgotten. To his dedicated fans, and to be sure he has a very dedicated and vocal fanbase, quitting the show over something as trivial as an argument is frustrating. To quit the show because he says it sucks, to the fans, is downright insulting. And to quit the show when it’s renewal is still in question is absolutely disrespectful to not only the fans but to the multitudes of people whose jobs rely on the show’s continued success. So while I had always heard Chevy Chase was a dick, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Then he came along and removed all doubt. Damnit.