I’ve been looking forward to seeing the new Sherlock Holmes movie. I consider Robert Downey Jr. to be an excellent actor. He delivered a good performance in Iron Man, and in Tropic Thunder his character made the movie. Gearing up to see Downey’s latest movie got me to thinking…this dude has been in a lot of movies recently–not just any movie, but good ones. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this dude arrested several times on drug charges? Wasn’t he arrested for burglary?
Now, I don’t consider Wikipedia to be a valid source of information (students don’t fool yourselves into believing that you can cite Wikipedia entries as valid sources backing up your arguments); however, I simply didn’t feel like doing the necessary knowledge on Mr. Robert Downey Jr. to explain my case here. So…in the spirit of laziness, I have copied a pertinent section of a Wikipedia entry for your reading pleasure:
From 1996 through 2001, Downey was arrested numerous times on drug-related charges and went several times through drug treatment programs unsuccessfully, explaining in 1999 to a judge: “It’s like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun metal.” He also explained his relapses by claiming to be addicted to drugs since the age of eight; his father was giving them to him as he was also an addict.
In April 1996, Downey was arrested for possession of heroin, cocaine and an unloaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun, while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard. A month later, when on parole, he trespassed into a neighbor’s home while under the influence of a controlled substance, falling asleep in one of the beds. He was sentenced to three years of probation and required to undergo mandatory drug testing. In 1997 he missed one of the court-ordered drug tests and had to spend four months in the Los Angeles County jail. When Downey missed another required drug test in 1999, he was arrested once more. Despite Downey’s lawyer, Peter Knecht, assembling for his client’s 1999 defense the same team of lawyers that successfully defended O. J. Simpson during his criminal trial for murder, Downey was sentenced to a three-year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California (a.k.a. “Corcoran II”). At the time of the 1999 arrest, all of Downey’s film projects had wrapped and were close to release, with the exception of In Dreams, which he was allowed to complete filming. He had also been hired for voicing “The Devil” on the NBC animated television series God, the Devil and Bob, but was fired when he failed to show up for rehearsals.
After spending nearly a year in California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California, Downey, on condition of posting $5,000 bail, was unexpectedly freed when a judge ruled that his collective time in incarceration facilities (spawned from the initial 1996 arrests) had qualified him for early release. A week after his 2000 release, Downey joined the cast of the hit television series Ally McBeal, playing the new love interest of Calista Flockhart’s title character. His performance was praised and the following year he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category and won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a mini-series or TV Film. He also appeared as a writer and singer on Vonda Shepard’s Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life album, and he sang with Sting a duet of “Every Breath You Take” in an episode of the series. Despite the apparent success, Downey claims that his performance on the series was overrated and that “It was my lowest point in terms of addictions. At that stage, I didn’t give a fuck whether I ever acted again.” In January 2001, Downey was scheduled to play the role of Hamlet in a Los Angeles stage production directed by Mel Gibson.
Before the end of his first season on Ally McBeal, Downey was arrested during Thanksgiving 2000, when his room at Merv Griffin’s Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs, California was searched by the police who were responding to an anonymous 911 call. Downey was under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of cocaine and Valium. Despite the fact that if convicted he could face a prison sentence of up to four years and eight months, he signed on to appear in at least eight more Ally McBeal episodes. In April 2001, while he was on parole, a Los Angeles police officer found him wandering barefoot in Culver City, near southwest Los Angeles. He was arrested for suspicion of being under the influence of drugs but was released a few hours later, even though tests showed he had cocaine in his system. After this last arrest, producer David E. Kelley and other Ally McBeal executives ordered last-minute re-writes and re-shoots and dismissed Downey from the show, despite the fact that Downey’s character had resuscitated Ally McBeal’s ratings. The Culver City arrest also cost him a role in the high-profile film America’s Sweethearts, and the subsequent incarceration forced Mel Gibson to shut down his planned stage production of Hamlet as well. In July 2001, Downey pleaded no contest to the Palm Springs charges, avoiding jail time; instead, he was sent into drug rehabilitation and put on a three-year probation, benefiting from the California Proposition 36, which had been passed the year before with the aim of helping non-violent drug offenders overcome their addictions instead of sending them to jail.
Now, what we must understand here are the class and racial privileges afforded wealthy White men. This dude’s rapsheet makes him sound dangerous to me, but I suppose that judges have the right and power to simply assume that some drug addicts are safer and more worthy of extreme lenience than others. Perhaps a prison sentence can be vacated BECAUSE you’ve been arrested so many times before rather IN SPITE of your previous arrests.
In another post here about two kidnappers, I was pointed out that there are allowable evils for White men and women that the above average Black individual could never enjoy. There is no real need to explain this in any sociological manner. Simply put: Robert Downey Jr. is the physical manifestation of White privilege.
“Nothing makes my day more bright than waking up White!”–KIW