On Chloe Sevigny Saying 'Big Love' was Awful: An Ethical InvestigationS

Chloe Sevigny told the AV Club that she thought this past season of Big Love was "Awful." Today she offered her excuse: she was tired! Also, she invoked the Golden Rule. What does immortal philosophy say about Chloe Sevigny's behavior?

Last week, Big Love star Chloe Sevigny told the AV Club: "[Big Love] was awful this season, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not allowed to say that! [Gasps.] It was very telenovela."

Controversy ensued. Sevigny realized that she did a bad thing, and today she apologized via Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello

What happened? Why'd you say it?
SEVIGNY: [Long pause] I feel like what I said was taken out of context, and the [reporter] I was speaking to was provoking me. I was in Austin [at the SXSW festival] and really exhausted and doing a press junket and I think I just… I wasn't thinking about what I was saying. You know, after a day of junkets sometimes things slip out that you don't mean, and I obviously didn't mean what I said in any way, shape, or form. I love being on the show.

Then she went on to say a bunch of nice things about the show so that Big Love writers Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen won't, as Ausiello puts it, "retaliate by throwing Nikki in front of a bus."

What to make of her apology? A person named Daniel Fienberg thinks she shouldn't have apologized in the first place for having opinions. Regardless, her excuses were not good. Maybe she was tired, but Sevigny's claim to have been "provoked" or "taken out of context" was proved false by the AV club interviewer, who posted the unedited audio of the statement in question.

And she never exactly said that she thought season four was not awful! Instead, her regret was ethical in nature. She broke the Golden Rule:

I haven't slept all night because if [Big Love writers Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen] said something about me, if they made a statement that they were disappointed in my work, I would feel awful. I always feel, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." And I just feel it was very out of character.

Is it possible Sevigny still thinks season 4 was awful? Having never watched Big Love, we have no comment. But many other people seem to agree. (The LA Times called it "Uncharacteristically choppy and literally all over the place").

Let us assume, for the sake of our ethical investigation, that Big Love season 4 is objectively awful. Let us likewise assume that Sevigny thinks it is awful and she primarily regrets saying so publicly because she broke the Golden Rule. What do the great minds of Philosophy say about this?

Jesus: Jesus was a big fan of the Golden Rule. He was the one who said: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Chloe Sevigny clearly would rather the writers of Big Love not criticize her work even if she was shitting the bed, so in this way she has fulfilled her ethical obligation by apologizing. Everyone can blithely go on and love each other just like Jesus wanted.

Kant: The German heavyweight Immanuel Kant's world-famous Categorical Imperative says: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Even though Chloe Sevigny wants her writers to lie about her shoddy work, does she really want everyone in all the world to lie about everyone else's shoddy work? This would be a disaster! Everything would suck. Kant says no: Speaking truthfully about the flaws one sees in the world is a good universal law. Sevigny should not have apologized. (Or better yet, not given the interview in the first place. Imagine if actors not talking was a universal law".)

John Stuart Mill: English philosophy love God J.S. Mill was also a fan of the Golden Rule as a way to ensure the greatest distribution of happiness throughout society. He said: "As the means of making the nearest approach to this ideal, utility would enjoin, first, that laws and social arrangements should place the happiness, or... the interest, of every individual as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole." This is a little tricky! What is the most utilitarian approach to talking shit in an interview about a TV show you star in? We would argue that John Stuart Mill would think bad TV shows—impacting large groups of viewers—are more detrimental to society than Chloe Sevigny fighting with her writers. He would support Chloe Sevigny speaking out about Big Love's current shittiness if it helped writers be less shitty. In fact, he would probably support a law banning Big Love Season Five from the airwaves.

Nietzsche: Who the fuck knows. Dude was insane. He probably would have told Chloe Sevigny that the world is a swirling chaos and that Big Love is getting a fifth season regardless, so just shut up and stop gaffing to journalists.

[Full Disclosure: I write jokes for the Onion News Network. The AV Club is owned by the Onion. Fuller Disclosure: I don't know anything about philosophy.]