Kevin Spacey is gay.
Well, who would have thought that eh?
Ordinarily, this would not be an issue, but Spacey has made it so through an obvious piece of narcissistic manipulation. Many have seen the manipulation, fewer realise what actually lies behind the manipulation. It does however provide a stark example of the behaviour of the narcissist because it exemplifies The Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence .
Anthony Rapp, an actor, has accused Spacey of sexually assaulting him back in 1986. Rapp was 14 years old and Spacey was 26 years old. This was Spacey’s response and in just two paragraphs it is laden with indicators of his narcissism :-
“I have a lot of respect and admiration for Anthony Rapp as an actor. I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me and that some have been fuelled by the fact that I have been so protective of my privacy. As those closest to me know, in my life I have had relationships with both men and women. I have loved and had romantic encounters with men throughout my life, and I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior.
In these two paragraphs you have the encapsulation of the Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence. First of all deny – “I honestly do not remember the encounter.”
Second, deploy a further manipulation, in this instance it is the common narcissistic tactic of deflection. Spacey reveals that he is a gay man (not really a surprise) but this apparent revelation is made to deflect from the act he is accused of and to deflect from the fact the act is a serious sexual crime against a child.
It also embodies something which is often used as an object of ridicule concerning narcissists in terms of “Enough about you, let’s talk about me.” Spacey has demonstrated that his apparent concern for Rapp and for his own behaviour towards Rapp is tissue thin and manufactured. There is no concern. His statement demonstrates that he is more concerned about the issue surrounding him – his sexuality. He wishes to deflect from Rapp and make it all about him.
It also shows a common element in certain schools of narcissist, namely false contrition. There are apologies offered and the word ‘sorry’ is used but whilst Spacey recognises the need to create the appearance of contrition, it is not genuine because his second paragraph completely undermines and erodes the essence of the supposed apology.
So, what narcissistic traits are evident in this statement?
Entitlement – I am entitled to use this as a platform to make it about me
Lack of accountability – I deny it happened and if it did then I am not accountable because of who I am
Lack of empathy – no consideration in the sexual assault for Rapp, no consideration for Rapp in the manner of this statement, no consideration for other victims of sexual assaults, no consideration for those who are homosexual since he has linked homosexuality with child abuse, something a number of commentators have highlighted.
The Twin Lines of Narcissistic Defence – as explained above
Zachary Quinto saw straight through the deflection as he commented
“Not by standing up as a point of pride – in the light of all his many awards and accomplishments thus inspiring tens of thousands of struggling LGBTQ kids around the world – but as a calculated manipulation to deflect attention from the very serious accusation that he attempt to molest one.‘
‘I think what we have seen in terms of gay teenagers committing suicide because of bullying is anguishing. I think young people, if they are feeling like they are confused, need to know that there are people to talk to and that there are places they can go and not feel alone,’ said Spacey.
‘But I feel that they have just as many rights as I do to not be bullied. And I don’t understand people who say, “Well, this is a terrible thing that is happening to this young person whose life is being exposed,” and then turn around and do it to another person. People have different reasons for the way they live their lives. You cannot put everyone’s reasons in the same box.’
‘It’s just a line I’ve never crossed and never will.’
This statement which can now be seen against a backdrop of allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour reinforces the narcissistic personality at work here. There is the cognitive empathy on display by talking about the situation of another, the maintenance of the facade in terms of being seen to care about others and the victim mentality of the narcissist “I feel they have just as many right as I do to not be bullied”. Furthermore, it evidences the hypocrisy and compartmentalisation which our kind engage in. Spacey has bullied people, often those in a ‘weaker’ position to him as a huge Hollywood star, yet notably does he ignore this behaviour he states it is a line he has never crossed and never will. This might be evidence of his lack of awareness as to what he is, that he truly sees nothing wrong in what he has done and therefore his self-defending narcissism automatically rejects any notion of accountability, or that he knows what he has done but he does not care and sees a convenient opportunity to tell a known lie because it serves him well to do so.
A further accuser, Tony Montana, a documentary filmmaker, says that Spacey groped him in the Coronet Pub in Los Angeles in 2003. He says he was in the bar working when Spacey showed up with a number of his friends.
‘I went up to order a drink and Kevin came up to me and put his arm around me,’
‘He was telling me to come with him, to leave the bar. He put his hand on my crotch forcefully and grabbed my whole package.’
Montana alleges that a drunk Spacey told him: ‘This designates ownership.’
Once again this behaviour evidences no boundary recognition, a sense of entitlement and a lack of accountability with no empathy for the person he is groping. His own words also evidence his view of Mr Montana belonging to him. We regard people as objects, as our possessions and therefore this comment by Spacey, if correct, underpins Spacey’s view as a narcissist. Clearly, since he was apparently drunk, his thought emerged as the spoken word.
A further individual speaking under the alias ‘John’ alleges that when he was 16 years old he was working with Spacey at a summer theatre. in the 1980s. He explained that Spacey was apparently ‘sobbing’ from his bed, which John recognised as a manipulation to try to get John to join him in bed by doling out a Pity Play, a well-known narcissistic manipulation. John did not join Space but then awoke to find Spacey draped around him, his head on his torso and his arms wrapped affectionately around him. Once again there is the failure to recognise the boundary and the sense of entitlement.
It does not end there. There have been in the past allegations. A show business website ran e-mails from those who alleged that Spacey had targeted them, all of them were young men.
Further allegations include a man who recounted being at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003 and explained ‘I felt a hand on my bum at the Martini bar’. The hand belonged to Spacey, he said, who invited him to a ‘swanky’ industry party. A source from New York said a friend texted him from a bar to say: ‘Kevin Spacey is here and he has his hand on my thigh.’
Another New Yorker recalled a friend telling him how Spacey chatted him up in a bar, ‘rubbing his knee before inviting him to a party. An ex-waiter at a smart Chicago restaurant said a male colleague was once invited by Spacey back to his hotel suite for a party that rapidly evaporated when the star asked everyone else to leave. Aware of the actor’s intentions, the waiter ‘thanked him for the nice evening and left’.
In another alleged incident, Spacey was at Harvard University for a function in the late 1990s and later propositioned a gay male undergraduate in a bar.
A repeated pattern of targeting individuals using his status and position of power to procure a sexual engagement with these individuals. Of course, as you know, what was really behind this was a narcissist identifying victims from whom he would gain fuel as a consequence of their responses.
As you would expect, a narcissist of Spacey’s calibre engages in careful facade management such as praising Venezuela’s former socialist leader Hugo Chavez, being on the streets of Belarus to support the democracy movement and has set up a charitable foundation to enable young actors to break into show business. All these acts are manufactured to portray an apparently caring and compassionate individual. However, this is clearly a facade since such an individual would not engage in the other behaviours which have been brought to light by not just one individual but several and it would not be a surprise to find further incidents coming to light in the days ahead.
The key traits of the behaviour of a narcissist are evident in the incidents which are being brought to light and which culminated in the revealing statement that Spacey issued regarding Mr Rapp.
Spacey has been lauded for his portrayal of many memorable screen characters such as Keyser Soze, Frank Underwood, Dave Harken (from Horrible Bosses) and Lex Luthor. If you know those characters you will recognise a common thread to them all. Perhaps after all Spacey has fallen prey to that criticism certain actors receive that they are just playing themselves. Perhaps Spacey has been playing himself but was using the part to deflect from what he really is as part of that narcissistic armoury.