On Wednesday night, Ben Affleck appeared on the HBO premiere of Bill Simmons’ Any Given Wednesday and delivered a legendary, yet bizarre, rant regarding the NFL’s Defaltegate scandal. Packed full of enough F-bombs to sustain an entire army, the Boston native slurred his way through the meltdown, defending Tom Brady in a speech which was loaded with personal subtext; Affleck was totally using the scandal as an angry and blatant metaphor for his own life.
Depending on how you like your Hollywood leading actors, Ben Affleck’s recent descent into becoming an unpredictable, back-tattoo-bearing dark knight will have either broken or stirred up your heart. Following his split from his wife, Jennifer Garner, the Batman v Superman actor has also been put under a more intense tabloid microscope than previously before with publications fixated on over-analyzing every aspect of his current life. From the rumors that it was Affleck’s inappropriate behavior with women and a recurring drinking problem that broke up his marriage to his heartbreaking, yet strangely humorous, dead-eyed promotional interviews, the actor appears to be going through something of a major change, which is being magnified by the greedy, watchful eye of the public.
In the past few days, for instance, there’s been rumors circulating on tabloid news sites that Affleck is angry with how details of his private life are being leaked to the press, with sources claiming that he suspects Garner to be behind the airing of his dirty laundry. Even before his high-profile split, however, there were constant rumors regarding his infidelities with actresses such as The Town co-star Blake Lively and Gone Girl‘s Emily Ratajkowski. None of the above rumors has ever been verified, however, but either way it’s understandable that he’d be feeling pretty frustrated with the way his private life is constantly being gossiped about in the media.
And now we have this Deflategate rant, which in many ways seems to tie up many of the rumors that have plagued Affleck in recent years and that kind of sounds like a public outcry against them. Speaking (or actually, shouting) about the NFL Deflategate scandal, Affleck launches into a revealingly impassioned speech: “Deflategate is the ultimate bullshit fucking outrage of sports ever. It’s so fucking stupid that I can’t believe [it]” he begins, with some words clearly slurring their way forth. He talks for a small while about his outrage concerning the NFL’s treatment of Tom Brady before continuing on to his opinion of why the player’s suspension was inappropriate:
“So instead, what they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his fucking cell phone and for having a friend who called himself the deflator. If I got in trouble for all the things that my friends called themselves, I would be finished, OK? You wanna give a guy — because he doesn’t give you his cell phone — a punishment? I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my fucking cell phone so you can just look through my e-mails and listen to my voicemails. The first thing they’re going to do is leak this shit.”
Call me crazy, but this sounds a little like he’s speaking from the heart here. For starters, Affleck’s lifelong friendship with Matt Damon as well as his close relationship with his brother, Casey, have always been put under close scrutiny, with all three of the actors called upon to comment on the actions or rumors of each other (Damon was still being asked about Affleck’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez in 2015, for example). So he understands a thing or two about people being caught up in scandals by proxy. But perhaps most revealing is his statement regarding Brady’s phone.
When nude pictures of Lively were leaked online in 2011, there was unverified speculation rife across gossip sites that Ben Affleck may have been the recipient of them. The rumors were about as reliable as taking a piece of celebrity fan-fiction as gospel truth, but they also make Affleck’s profound statement about the sanctity of a person’s phone all the more timely. Figure into this those rumors concerning Garner leaking some of his personal information to the press, and his statements certainly sound more like a man who feels that his most private information may be under constant threat.
Though Affleck wasn’t sure of Brady’s motives for not giving up his cellphone to the NFL, he did theorize about his potential reasons, saying: “I don’t know. Maybe it’s funny, lovely sex messages from his wife.” Uh, say what, Ben? No, that’s fair enough. And perhaps that was true, but it’s also pretty revealing. Considering the amount of leaked private nude pictures that have been stolen from the memory banks of celebrity cellphones in the past few years, I’m surprised that any celebrity still feels safe enough to indulge in some nude-selfie sex with a partner anymore. But for that to be the first pit-stop that Affleck’s brain makes in defense of Brady? Sounds to me like a man who has been the recipient of many “funny, lovely sex messages” from women. And, hey, why not?
His defense of Brady, however, takes a touching turn when he launches into a slightly more pragmatic and professional defense of the athlete, which sounds by all accounts like a man who wishes to be taken more professionally in his private, and public, life himself:
“Maybe Tom Brady is so f***ing classy and such a fucking gentleman that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion of some of his co-workers: guys he plays with, guys he plays against. His real feelings. I wouldn’t want guys who I didn’t think were very good to know I didn’t think they were very good. I wouldn’t want guys who I thought were great to know I thought they were great. I’d want to keep my opinions to myself. Surely his opinions about professional football are contained in his e-mails and his texts in his f***ing telephone.”
All in all, the rant comes off as sounding like that moment in Mean Girls when Gretchen Wiener responds to Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” with a thinly veiled critique which actually surreptitiously attacks frenemy Regina George. There’s no denying the subtext. Still, I can’t help but feel bad for, and even agree with, Affleck, who just sounds like a man at the end of his tether. No matter how high profile a person’s celebrity is at any given amount, it surely doesn’t excuse such an unwarranted and in-depth scrutiny of his or her private life. When he raises the idea that maybe Brady is such a gentleman that he’d prefer to remain silent on details of his private life and his personal relationships, I can’t help but hear Affleck suggesting that his tendency to remain silent on such matters are for the same reason. Personally, I’m inclined to agree, and I found his slurred, expletive-laden rant charmingly refreshing and as such — stay f***ing classy, Mr. Affleck.
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