Defending Gary Busey

by Dave on April 18, 2011

in Television

busey-mr-joshuaDonald Trump finally fired Gary Busey on Celebrity Apprentice last night after getting it wrong last week and showing Mark McGrath the door. I bemoan the sad fact Busey wasn’t put out of his misery weeks ago, but not for the reasons you may assume. The man is not simply crazy – he was the victim of a massive head injury in 1988, not to mention a few additional contributing factors since, and the way he’s been paraded around and allowed to embarrass himself this long – on one of the most popular shows in the country – is reprehensible. What Ivanka calls “being a character” a physician might refer to as “early onset frontal lobe dementia”. Either way, I’m relieved it’s now over and I’m going to do my part to fuel a little backlash.

When I first heard Busey would be among this season’s cast I was definitely very excited. I’ve been a fan since I saw The Buddy Holly Story on TV as a child. I wore holes in my Dad’s Crickets vinyl so when the movie came along I was sure to tape and re-watch it many times. My Dad seemed to like the actor, so I did too, and Busey received a Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1978 for his efforts. His body of work is impressive (A Star is Born, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Silver Bullet, Lethal Weapon) but how soon people have forgotten. Through little fault of his own he’s ended up the quintessential pop culture punchline – and it really isn’t funny anymore.

Meat Loses his Loaf on Celebrity Apprentice.

To accept that an actor can transform from someone who can play a character as perfectly intense as Mr. Joshua to a babbling semi-psychotic in the course of 24 years and not have a serious health issue is ignorant. Busey isn’t acting anymore. Many on the men’s team seemed to acknowledge this and in the first few episodes, despite the challenges he presented, even the Busey-beleaguered Meatloaf remained respectful regardless of whether Gary was within earshot. By last night’s episode, however, the women’s team giggled at his every bizarre statement like they were back in grade school making fun of the slow kid who liked to rub the front of his pants at recess. Public figures and very well known celebrities “laughing at the retard” on national television like it was the most normal and acceptable thing imaginable. Did anyone really need another reason to revile Star Jones?

Mr. Joshua – Your left arm, please.”

Trump loves him some Gary, and much to the chagrin of the rest of team “Backbone” that fact alone has saved his seemingly nutty ass on at least two prior occasions when he could have easily been shit-canned – while a much stronger player has been sacrificed instead (after John Rich and Marlee Matlin, McGrath was my favorite to win). The Donald seems painfully unaware of what takes place during the weekly tasks (and probably is) which is definitely why Busey has remained as long as he has. He’s unfocused, scattered, oblivious to any offense he happens to cause – such referring to Rich as “Boy” last night (thank God he didn’t do that to Little Jon or Busey-induced riots would currently be taking place in most major American cities) – and has otherwise been all hindrance and no help to his team during every single task. But what did the producers expect?

The truth is that they knew exactly what to expect and what the other contestants were in for. Recent Busey forays into popular culture such as the Comedy Central show “I’m with Busey”, Celebrity Rehab, the Larry the Cable Guy Roast, etc. should erase any doubt in our minds as to whether or not this man has a serious medical disability. His psyche has grown progressively more unstable over time (his 1991 turn as Officer Angelo Pappas in Point Break is one of his best roles and was filmed 4 years after his helmetless motorcycle accident,) and although that was probably a somewhat natural progression a quick online search informs us that prescription medication and a long post-injury dalliance with cocaine has probably helped the situation along considerably. He also mentioned on one episode of the Apprentice that he’d had operations for cancer which, I’m assuming, is what has led more recently to the uneven positioning of his right eye.

“Utah! Get me two!”

So what have we learned? He’s in bad shape and getting worse. Have a look at his demeanour and overall presence in this scene from the aforementioned “I’m With Busey” which was filmed just 8 years ago in 2003. When compared to his current vacant and emaciated condition on Celebrity Apprentice he looks like he’s aged about 2 decades since. I’m comfortable saying he is deteriorating faster than Pappas could wolf down a meatball sandwich:

Busey loves Dick.

That’s enough detail and deconstruction. My point is simple. Gary Busey isn’t crazy, wacky or purposefully colorful – he is quite obviously suffering from brain damage (likely his frontal lobe if I had to guess based on my own family’s experiences) brought on from a variety of ailments, addictions and accidents. I get a kick out of Donald Trump but I hope, after he watches these episodes back in their entirety, he has a few choice words for his producers (maybe even Busey’s own management) – or at least feels a little remorse for the way in which the man was shoved out on stage and made to look like some sort of two-bit carnival joke. Shameful. It would appear I’m the one who’s with Busey. Anyone else?

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren April 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

The first time I ever saw Gary Busey was on Celebrity Rehab where he was not only recovering from addiction, but he was insane! I had no idea that at one time he was a legitimate actor. As entertaining as his crazy antics are, it is sad that his agent seems to be exploiting his mental problems. What’s even sadder is that Busey has no clue.

Dave Pye April 28, 2011 at 9:03 am

Lauren – He was an amazing actor in his time. Have a look at his full filmography here:

Looks like his stint on CA wasn’t a total debacle. According to the list he has a lot of new film projects coming up.

Monstah July 7, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Gary reminds me of Crazy Corey.

suzanne April 10, 2013 at 4:25 pm

interesting, my father suffered from ftd (frontal temporal dementia) and I watched the apprentice and immediately saw my father in him.

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