Over the last few days I have learned more about Seth Rogen, the 39-year-old actor, comedian, writer, and producer than I care to know. I learned that the stoner and owner of a cannabis company got really high with his wife before an Adele concert in Los Angeles. I heard that his new show on HBO Max, Santa, Inc., is really bad — so bad in fact that Rogen is heaping some of the blame for its negative reviews on the “tens of thousands of white supremacists” he allegedly “pissed off” with his foul-mouthed Christmas cartoon. I also learned that he doesn’t personally view his car as an extension of himself. And it’s that last bit of unwanted Rogen trivia that I think is worth talking about.
The controversy started when Rogen, the Hollywood mogul, took issue with Casey Neistat, the YouTube mogul, for referring to Los Angeles as “a crime riddled third world shithole of a city” on Twitter.
Neistat’s original tweet, which kicked off the short back-and-forth between the two, reads in full:
so our cars got robbed this morning because Los Angeles is a crime riddled 3rd world shithole of a city but tremendous appreciation and gratitude to the hardworking officers at the @LAPDWestLA who not only arrested the motherfucker but they got all of our stolen goods back.
As you know, you don’t have to respond to tweets. Whether your account is verified or not, you are allowed to pick and choose your online battles. You don’t even have to be on Twitter! But Rogen, being the blue-checked proud Angelino that he is (Los Angeles via Canada) chose to weigh in:
Dude I’ve lived here for over 20 years. You’re nuts haha. It’s lovely here. Don’t leave anything valuable in it. It’s called living in a big city.
Neistat responded, “i can still be mad tho right? feel so violated.”
“You can be mad,” Rogen tweeted, granting Neistat that, “but I guess I don’t personally view my car as an extension of myself and I’ve never really felt violated any of the 15 or so times my car was broken in to. Once a guy accidentally left a cool knife in my car so if it keeps happening you might get a little treat.”
Neistat “didn’t get any treats. [The thief] just took the decorations for my daughters 7th birthday party and left bloody hand prints. serious question; how did you get your car broken into 15 times?”
A question I’m sure we are all asking.
“I lived in West Hollywood for 20 years and parked on the street,” Rogen wrote. “Also it sucks your shit was stolen but LA is not some shithole city. As far as big cities go it has a lot going for it.”
If Rogen wants to be an ambassador for the City of Angels, he may want to come up with a different marketing campaign.
The responses to Rogen’s defense of his “not some shithole city” were what you would expect. Oh look: another tone-deaf Hollywood millionaire, who can afford to be so-above car break-ins and blind to the struggles of the common Angelinos who have to park on the street and contend with the same big-city thieves who may leave behind “cool” knives or bloody handprints. Forget having your car broken into 15 times — even just one break-in can end up costing you more than the price of a Seth Rogen rolling tray ($485)!
While Seth may not view his car as an extension of himself many people do view their respective vehicles as such.
I am reminded of the van my father used to own back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s when our family lived in the Woodside neighborhood of Queens, New York. Dad had a butcher shop in Spanish Harlem, so not only was the van his mode of transportation to and from, it was also what he used to pick up and deliver inventory, and, ultimately, relied upon to provide for our family.
The van was broken into often. To be fair, it was parked on the street in a big-city borough. But even on nights when my father didn’t leave anything of value in the van, thieves would have to break a window — just to be sure. Other times, when nothing was taken, the van’s tires were slashed. One week, the slashings happened so many times that the man my father bought tires from, in an act of compassion, gave him a free set.
Don’t let people like Rogen get away with saying, “It’s called ‘living in a big city.’” It’s not. It’s about defining what kinds of victimization you’re comfortable seeing others go through.
Because my father’s van was an extension of himself. The price tag to fix what was destroyed is one thing, but on top of that you have the price of being violated, of which Neistat describes. The trauma can be soul-crushing. Especially if it’s ongoing. Eventually, my father was able to rent a spot in a parking lot with added security. Far too many people are incapable of doing that.
I don’t know what kind of car Seth Rogen drives — if it’s anything like the beat-up 1976 Dodge Royal Monaco sedan Jerry Seinfeld drove in their episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee or something more luxurious, hybrid or electric — and I don’t care. Rogen doesn’t have to view his car as an extension of himself. But it would benefit him and all of us to view and treat the cars of others — and all property while we’re at it — as extensions of themselves.
Online you can view footage of property destruction in Los Angeles and other “not some shithole” cities. I’ve watched mobs of shoplifters descend upon high-end retail stores in cities like San Francisco. Now, while I might not value brands like Gucci or Louis Vuitton — and if gifted a designer bag this Christmas wouldn’t view it as an extension of myself — I respect the fact that the owners of those bags just might (and those who steal them, of course). Because eventually, if you don’t respect other people’s property, the day will come when what you do consider an extension of yourself is fair game.
Just look at the way Seth Rogen has defended his show Santa, Inc. from critics. No doubt Rogen views his creative work as a huge part of who he is.
I wonder, maybe if we could convince Rogen that those same white supremacists he alleges are conspiring to bring down his show were also breaking into cars in Los Angeles, Rogen would be more inclined to speak out against these violations of property rights. He just might be high enough already to believe it.