An Open Letter To Vince Vaughn, as True Detective Season 2 Nears Its “Epic” Conclusion
Vince. Buddy. I am so sorry. I really am.
This was supposed to be a big thing for you. This was supposed to be the project that proved to the world that you were an “Actor.” An “Artist.” A “Cultural Force to Be Reckoned With.”
Nic Pizzolatto, the intrepid, if not completely insane, seemingly singular voice behind the phenomenon that was True Detective, promised to do for you what he did for McConaughey (that apparently Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, and Magic Mike hadn’t done already). He even said, in a truly bonkers Vanity Fair profile, “I could show people stuff from Vince Vaughn they hadn’t seen before—the Vince Vaughn they always wanted, without knowing it.” Sounds like your golden ticket to respectability, right?
I loved the first season of this show as much as anybody. Hell, I’m a Straight White Dude who is sad sometimes. I am True Detective’s primary audience! I so desperately wanted this season to be good to prove all of the haters wrong. Fuck the haters, right? I have good taste! I’m smart! “Time is a flat circle” wasn’t just a bunch of dorm room philosophy major nonsense!
Moreover, I wanted this for you. Your past few flicks haven’t exactly been rousing successes. Movies like Unfinished Business, The Delivery Man, The Watch, The Internship, and Fred Claus litter your recent past like a pile of corpses after an annual episode 4 True Detective gunfight. Remember Swingers? Remember Old School? And Wedding Crashers?! Ugh, those were the days. You made us all so happy then. Now it was your time to make us sad. Why aren’t we sad?
Well, a few reasons. First is Nic Pizzolatto. I’m sorry to break it to ya, Vince, but he fucked you (But “Everything is fucking” you may say. Don’t say that. Like, ever.).
He wrote you goofy-ass dialogue like “It’s like blue balls, but in my heart” and “Sometimes your worst self is your best self.” He gave you perhaps the most meaningless subplot in the torrid history of subplots with all of that fertility nonsense. He made your main plot so incomprehensible, so rushed, so hackneyed and glossed over that I hear he’s working on Meek Mill’s next album (come at me, Meek. I ain’t afraid of you).
Second, and it kills me to say this, Vince, it really does, is you. The language is stilted as fuck, and you’re letting it run over you like a slow squirrel on a highway. Your line readings are insane. Sometimes you’re flat as a piece of paper, other times you seem to be going for Gary Busey chic. It seems like in between every shot, you were given a different direction that directly contradicts the direction you were given before it.
Sometimes, when big name actors are bad, gloriously bad, it’s fun to watch them fall flat on their face. This isn’t fun for me, because you seem to be trying to so hard. You’re like the kid on the Little League team who so desperately wants to help, but just can’t seem to make the bat connect to the ball.
I find the narrative around your involvement in True Detective to be far more fascinating than any of the work you’ve done on screen. I wonder how you’re taking the relative failure of this project, especially compared to the perceived hopes and expectations for what this would do for your career. I wonder if that was as much of a thing in your mind as it was in ours. I wonder if the feeling I get watching your performance this season that I’m witnessing a man buckle under immense self-imposed pressure is a correct observation or a misguided projection of my own desire for easy-to-swallow narratives.
Television has become the most personal form of cultural consumption. People identify themselves by what shows they do or do not watch. The first season of True Detective was such a fantastic distillation of a feeling, a sense, an ineffable idea of emptiness that had never been expressed on television before with such potency that when the second season, and you, sucked so hard, it was hard not to feel personally trolled by it.
Which is actually fucking absurd! Of course True Detective being bad is not an attack on my being. It’s a fucking TV show. It’s fiction. It doesn’t matter.
But of course it does. Life is hard and boring sometimes. You know that. I know you know that because you’re a person in this world. Entertainment, even entertainment about darkness, helps us escape and elevate above that, which is why it’s been such a damn shame watching you fail this summer.
I’ll move past this. I already have. Have you seen Top of the Lake? It’s awesome. Elisabeth Moss kills it. I hope you’re able to move past this too and find the success that has eluded you of late (Though it’s entirely possible you won’t. I don’t know. Show business, man. It’s a motherfucker).
And for True Detective fans? Well, at least we’ll always have Carcosa.