Dear Christian Bale,
Why do you hate Newsies?
Newsies. Don’t pretend you don’t know it. 1992. Disney. Musical. Turn-of-the-century newspaper boys. Singing. Dancing. A tinge of underage homoeroticism. Yeah, that Newsies.
It was a formative film in your career as a child actor, and it was eclipsed entirely by the 1993 Nazi sad-fest Swing Kids, which is widely considered to be a “better” film.
I love you, Christian Bale, but your well-documented and long-running hatred of Newsies is depressing to the film’s devoted fans. (They are mostly journalism students, gay teenagers, and aspiring slash fan-fiction writers).
Personally, I’ve looked it up so many times that my Google search bar completes “Christian Bale” with “hates Newsies.”
What comes up first is a December 2010 article in Esquire Magazine where you called acting in Newsies “embarrassing” and said you “don’t like musicals.”
I can see why you feel that way. When it was released, Newsies was the lowest-grossing Disney movie ever and it required you to perform the secondhand-embarrassment-inducing ‘Santa Fe’ alone, in an alleyway, with a lasso.
You’ve even said you feel like Newsies impeded your career trajectory.
“Time heals all wounds, but it took a while,” you told Entertainment Weekly in 2007 about the aftermath of starring in Newsies.
It’s a dubious claim considering Newsies obviously didn't hurt Bill Pullman. He was President of the United States just four years later!
At one point, you were claiming that you’d never even seen the movie. I don’t know if I buy that, Christian Bale. But either way, it cuts deep.
Over 63,800 people like Newsies on Facebook. Googling “Newsies fan” brings up 825,000 results. Brooklyn’s hip Bell House venue even hosted a Newsies sing-a-long and costume party this year. And word is it's heading to Broadway soon too. That movie is officially a cult classic, dude!
So what’s your damage, Bale?
You’re almost there. Now, nearly two decades after Newsies came out, you’re showing signs of coming around. During press for 2010‘s The Fighter, you hummed a few bars from ‘Santa Fe’ on the red carpet and the long-neglected Newsies fandom almost shat a Pulitzer.
Since Newsies, you’ve more than established yourself as a serious and accomplished actor. We’ve all read the Wikipedia page for The Machinist. (No one actually saw that movie, right? Too depressing!) We’ve marveled at your ability to go from looking like a more emaciated Gollum to sprouting muscles in order to play “The Batman.” You and Daniel Day Lewis will someday ride off into the sunset together on the backs of dragons.
Speaking of dragons, how is Newsies the movie you most regret making? You made Reign of Fire which IMDB describes as being about “a brood of fire-breathing dragons emerging from the Earth and setting fire to everything.” That is the premise of a movie you starred in. And it’s not even close to as dumb as Terminator Salvation. After that any mere mortal would have been, as you put it, “f**kin’ done professionally.”
But you’ve also had some of the most amazing performances in an actor’s career. Velvet Goldmine is a delicious glitter love-fest of great acting. Your embodiment of Dickie Ecklund in The Fighter was mind-blowing. American Psycho is one of my favorite films of all time. You knock the role of Patrick Bateman out of the park like “it” is Jared Leto’s head and you’re holding an axe. You nail it.
Maybe it’s “amateur” of me to say, but a turn as a serial-killing sociopath isn’t exactly inspirational. (Unless you count that one awesome guy I saw dressed in a “blood-splattered” raincoat for Halloween last year.)
You know what is inspirational? The heart-warming tale of an underdog group of rag-tag newsboys against a corrupt newspaper magnate. It’s Spot Conlon and Mush and Racetrak and Les and Bill Pullman and yeah, even Crutchy.
Come on, Bale. Take yourself out of it. Pretend it’s really Cowboy Jack Kelly up on that screen, fighting for his right to pas de beret in the streets of turn-of-the-century New York. It’s hope. It’s magic. It’s tap-dancing on a table and swinging on a ceiling fan. It’s a little boy screaming, “Never fear, Brooklyn is here!”
We’ve all made mistakes. One time, I CC'd my college’s entire journalism department on an email about how one particularly scary professor may or may not be in league with both Voldemort and Hitler. I’ve spit out gum onto my own clothing, I dyed my hair purple in the seventh grade, and I told Sam Worthington I enjoyed his performance in Step Up 3D. In college, I drunkenly convinced my frazzled roommate that she needed to let me sit up so I could do something really important and then proceeded to vomit into one of my rain boots. None of these mistakes earned me any fans.
But Christian Bale, people have gotten so much joy from watching you and David Moscow pretend either of you can dance. Just embrace it. You lucked out. Your big acting mistake is a movie people absolutely adore. I wish you loved it too.
In fact, let’s have a screening at my apartment. You can see Newsies for the “first time.” I’ll wear my Urban Outfitters newsboy cap and we’ll use my work computer to print out fake “newspapers” we made in Microsoft Office with a photo of you and an announcement of your change of heart.
Then, we’ll pass them out to strangers on the street while yelling, “Extrey! Extrey!” I’ll even use crutches to make it authentic.
Because as everyone knows: if you’re in the papers you’re famous; and if you’re famous, you can get anything you want -- even the courage to finally own up to Newsies.
Seize the Day,