A note about "Himmmm"

[Note: This entry has been edited from its original publication. See here for details.]

The whole kerfuffle about "Himmmm" and who he is and whether any of the stuff he says about starlets and their parents and skeezy on-set tutors is true has unfortunately overshadowed a lot of the things "Himmmm" has actually said.

First off, as I said the first time, what the current commenting "Himmmm" says sounds legit like someone who has had serious drug/alcohol problems and has, through rehab and support and a hell of a lot of stubbornness, come out the other side of them. And probably even used the experience to make goddamn sure he is a better person now than he was then. There's a lot of detail in his descriptions, a lot of personal investment in his writing, and a sort of black sense of humor peeking around the edges -- all things you get from actual ex-rehabbers. Not saying it can't be faked -- almost anything can be faked on the internet -- but my bet is that, however this guy is, he has genuinely been through the substance abuse wringer.

This whole business about outing pedophiles and shady madams tallies perfectly well with a reformed addict who has a lot of very strong opinions, and a sense of justice. He's pulled his life together and stopped hurting the people he loves; it's difficult to watch other complete fuck-ups keep doing it, and get away with it, and not even have a trunk full of blow as a flimsy excuse. In cases of abuse, unless the victim is on board with filing charges or you have got that shit on full-color videotape, there is really nothing that anyone else can do. If the victim is now an adult, legally able to make their own extremely poor choices, and the other people involved are rich or powerful or otherwise able to make things that are difficult to prove go away, an anonymous outing is almost the only thing you can do. It's possible for the accused to charge the accuser with libel, but firstly, that only works if they can figure out who wrote it, and secondly, truth is whatcha call an 'affimative defense' in American courts -- if you can prove what you said is true, then you're not guilty of libel, end of story. If they sue, the defendant is entitled to use any reasonable means to find out whether the allegations are in fact correct. This would be very bad for the accused if the allegations are true, because, then, y'know, proof.

There is some debate, on the various gossip sites, over whether RDJ would come so close to outing himself by making so many references to his actual life. "Himmmm" posted a list of awesome people in Hollywood once, to counterbalance the list of total scumbuckets that were turning up on the gossip sites, and the list included a lot of people RDJ had worked with at one point or another. Plus his wife. The argument is that this is no way to hide your ID. Yes and no. The thing is, he might not be trying to hide so much as give himself an out if this blows up in his face. If the other commenters can check it, then it's out in public view -- and, unless shit gets real and there are FBI guys pulling ISP records and security tapes at the local Starbucks to track "Himmmm" down, there's nothing that's been posted that he can't point at and say, "Dude, I'm in the news all the time, someone who has way more free time than anyone needs has decided to pretend really well to pretend really badly to not be me." No penalty for lying to nosy press.

Also: impulse control issues. Bright as he undoubtedly is, RDJ is not really very good at keeping his mouth shut. Skating that fine line between letting everyone "know" who he is and pretending nobody knows anything is thrilling, like sharing a secret in-joke with members of your own club. It's a more noble sort of pursuit than trying to snort every chemical in the world.

There is one particular post, in which "Himmmm" either does everything but admit he is RDJ, or admit he wants you to think he's RDJ. Surprisingly, it is not in a blaze of braggart glory. Or in a burst of temper. The blind item that day is about an A-lister who had famously dragged his life back on track after several stints in rehab, supposedly "slipping". It's not uncommon; a familiar mantra to people who have gone through something like AA is that there is no such thing as an "ex-addict", only a "recovering addict". Most people who have problems tumble into them again from time to time -- the trick is to remember that you're not perfect, and one mistake doesn't mean you should just give up and fall back into the hole. The regular commenters, who are positively uncanny about figuring these things out, decided it was almost assuredly RDJ.

And they were sad. Even as they guessed it was him, they wished it wasn't. They were so happy he'd gotten his life back together, that he was a pretty decent guy now, that his career was taking off again. They were rooting for him -- and rooting for "Himmmm", who had been pointedly neither confirming nor denying that he was not-very-secretly RDJ for several months at that point, and it didn't really even seem to matter to most of the gang whether they were in fact the same person or not. It is a markedly uncommon expression of good will from a place where traditionally people go to be anonymous and be catty about themselves, each other, and the subject of the gossip du jour. Thar be trolls. It's like the terrible old days of the AOL Entertainment forums, except instead of the argument automatically ending when a poster mentions Hitler, it automatically comes to a halt when some chimp banging on an iPad brings up Phil Spector.

The response from "Himmmm" was -- well. Just go read it. It is, I think, a much more eloquent version of something every recovering addict who has ever been shocked and shaken to find support coming from people it hadn't even occurred to them would notice much less care would like to say. It's a very heartfelt essay. If it isn't RDJ behind it, then it's someone who identifies very, very strongly with that narrative. I don't necessarily mean it's a delusional whacko who thinks he is Robert Downey Jr; just someone who has been through something that they believe is conceptually similar, if not full of similar details, and considers it a safe surrogate for their own story.

So, Himmmm, if you're reading this -- and you might well be; RDJ would probably be reading everything trying to figure out if he's gotten burned and someone pretending to the RDJ would probably be reading to see how successful he was, and in any case my blog is on the first page of Google results for "Himmmm RDJ" -- and I'm right about you having grappled with substance abuse issues in the past, good on you for cleaning up. It doesn't matter who you really are, if you're regularly winning the struggle to not devolve into some sort of rage-y drug-soaked ape and deal with life sober, you've got my respect for that. It's hard as hell, and if you've managed to convince the mosh pit comment thread on a Hollywood gossip site that you're an awesome enough guy to root for, you must be doing something right.

And if you are Robert Downey, Jr. -- dude, I loved the Sherlock Holmes films, and the comic book stuff. You have some kind of weird mojo going if you can play Tony Stark as such a convincing asshole and I still root for Iron Man to win.

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