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When did Robert de Niro become such a douchebag?

His display on CNN was tragic

September 29, 2019

2:23 PM

29 September 2019

2:23 PM

Oh dear, Robert de Niro is doing his ‘swearing about Donald Trump’ routine again. It’s a tired act. It’s also really quite sad.

Cockburn saw him on CNN earlier this morning and thought he looked like a vain old goat. Of course de Niro has his big new Netflix film, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, to plug and cursing on live TV is a great way to draw attention to yourself. It’s also pathetic. ‘Fuck ’em! Fuck ’em!’, he said, when Brian Stelter asked him about the criticism he receives for talking about Trump. Stelter reminded him he was on a Sunday morning show, and he issued a perfunctory ‘sorry’. As if it wasn’t premeditated.

Never meet your heroes, they say — they could add ‘or listen to them talk politics on TV’. Cockburn is a great admirer of de Niro the actor. Al Pacino was always too operatic for his tastes; de Niro was cool. Remember that smoking scene in Goodfellas; nothing cooler.

But in the last few years Bobby has made it quite clear that he is also what Cockburn’s nieces might call a douchebag. So many stars now believe their job is to tell voters what to think, oblivious to the fact that most people don’t really care what stars think.

Bobby used to seem different: less of a luvvie; too cool to seek attention or debase himself with PR stunts. Not anymore. Perhaps Donald Trump makes everybody a bit tragic. Or perhaps de Niro was so good at playing tough guys because he’s always been a delusional narcissist who really does think he’s hard as nails. His piece-to-camera in which he threatens Trump as if in mobster character is one of the most cringe-inducing scenes in modern history. Cockburn shares it only because he’s a glutton for punishment.

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