Wil Wheaton has unloaded on Larry David for the Curb Your Enthusiasm star’s on-air Elmo attack.
The Star Trek: The Next Generation actor posted an intense 900-word essay on Facebook about the purportedly unscripted viral stunt, where David throttled the ever-cheerful and child-like Sesame Street icon live on NBC’s Today during a segment on mental health, and then told viewers “somebody had to do it.” David was prodded into apologizing for the incident, but he did so seemingly reluctantly and with a smile.
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Wheaton had a strong reaction to the footage and revealed he was abused in a similar way growing up. His rant has made some reexamine last week’s incident — which was largely greeted with amusement online — while others are mocking the actor as “profanely oversensitive.”
“When I was growing up, my dad would grab me by the shoulders and shake me while he screamed in my face,” Wheaton wrote. “He choked me more than once. He was always out of control, always in a furious rage, and always terrifying. I’m a 51-year-old man and my heart is pounding right now, recalling how I felt when I was a little boy who loved Grover the way today’s kids love Elmo. So this appalling, unforgivable, despicable act hits more than one raw nerve for me, and I’m going to say what I wish I’d been able to say when this sort of thing happened to me.”
And then Wheaton really went off on David.
“What the fuck is wrong with that guy?” he wrote. “Elmo is, like, the best friend to multiple generations of children. In the Sesame Street universe, ELMO IS A CHILD, who is currently putting mental health and caring for others in the spotlight. What an asshole. What a stupid, self-centered, tone deaf asshole … Larry David strikes me as a person who mocks and belittles people who are vulnerable and sensitive, and enjoys being cruel, because he feels untouchable … First of all, you aren’t even in the segment, but you just decided to barge in and draw focus because … why? You couldn’t stand that a puppet brought people together in a meaningful way that you can’t? You couldn’t stand that your appearance on national television to promote your wildly successful series was delayed for a few seconds while the adults talked about mental health? You wanted to manufacture a viral moment where everyone gets to see what an asshole you are, so they’ll tune in and watch you portray an asshole in the last season of your show that celebrates how great it is to be an asshole without ever experiencing the consequences of being an asshole?”
Wheaton added: “Elmo is an avatar for children all over the world. Children who are too small to understand Elmo is a puppet will know that a man attacked someone they love for no reason, and that will frighten and confuse them … Elmo and the Muppets teach and model to children all over the world that kindness and empathy aren’t weak or stupid or any of the things people like Larry David and my dad think they are … Elmo and the Muppets offer comfort and friendship and support to a world that is starving for it.”
Wheaton’s achingly sincere post has drawn support from some corners of the internet, with one user noting, “If you’re mocking Wil Wheaton for having his PTSD triggered by watching Larry David assault Elmo — who just brought many, many people together in a moment of emotional healing — find that unfollow button and hit it. Go find your fellow garbage people, bond with them.”
Opined another, “Wil Wheaton’s post was definitely overwrought, but … he’s right. Larry David is an asshole and it was an asshole thing to do *especially* considering the context of why Elmo was on the show in the first place.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald was one of those mocking the actor, writing, “The Star Trek actor and intrepid liberal activist Wil Wheaton posted a screed on Facebook full of rage toward Larry David for viciously assaulting the puppet named Elmo. I debated if it were satire for the first 4 paragraphs. When I realized it wasn’t, I didn’t want it to end.” While another wrote, “Wil Wheaton needs to calm down. My Dad was also an alcoholic and I grew up watching and experiencing abuse, it was total dysfunction. If Larry David grabbed Rainbow Brite and beat the 💩 out of her, that would actually be therapeutic for me. Because I would laugh my ass off. Sit tf down, Wil.”
Perhaps most surprisingly, famed author Joyce Carol Oates weighed in on the issue after this story was published, commenting, “We can imagine how this highly sensitive individual reacts to assaults on actual persons as in war. Assume he can barely draw breath reacting to the war in Gaza in proportion to the comic assault on an inanimate puppet. Such empathy!”
Wheaton has publicly criticized his parents previously, having claimed during last year’s Writers Guild strike that they squandered his Next Generation earnings. “My parents stole nearly all of my salary from my entire childhood,” he wrote. “My Star Trek residuals were all I had, and they kept me afloat for two decades while I rebuilt my life.”
After the Today incident, David went onto Late Night With Seth Meyers and further explained, “Elmo was talking. I was waiting to be interviewed. And Elmo was (in Elmo voice) going on about mental health. And I had to listen to every word. And I was going, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! I don’t think I can take another second of this!’ (In normal voice) And I got off my chair and I approached him. And I throttled him. There you go. I couldn’t take it … And you know what, I would do it again.”
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