Until a few years ago I didn't even know what CES was. I'd never heard of it. And then I started working in the video games industry and suddenly knew approximately five million people who tripped off to Vegas every January to watch big ol' companies blart on about new technology.
Since I left the industry I mostly follow CES updates from friends I know who are there. They'll pick up anything that would interest me anyway. Other than that it comes and goes, much like many other expos and events every year and I lazily keep half an eyelid on it for a bit before it slips away from my consciousness in favour of the Oatmeal's new comic or whatever shiny thing that grabs my ever decreasing attention span in its web of promise.
This year a headline caught my eye. It was something derisory about Michael Bay 'storming' off stage at CES while promoting something or other. Oh, he's such a wanker isn't he? I thought to myself. Probably his massive ego and something to do with those terrible films he makes that made him do that. I had, of course, linked my fairly mild dislike of his style of film making (Megan Fox plus lots of big bangs do not make for an intellectually stimulating couple of hours unless you're a 12 year old boy. Which I am not) with him as a person and instantly judged him.
After actually watching the clip of him 'storming' off stage at Samsung's promotional bit for one of their thingummy whatsits. I think it's a bendy screen or something. I quite like the sound of that. I want my tech to bend. I want everything to be very flat, very tiny and bend. Or be very massive, very flat and bend. Basically, my future needs to bend. Anyway, after actually watching it I think that Mr Bay had a panic attack.
There was, naturally, an enormous backlash against him. Some people mocked. Some people openly derided. Some people blamed it on his ego. Some people said it showed his arrogance. Others said that he is somehow too dim to put words together himself without an auto cue.
To me, a border line agoraphobic, even going on to a stage in front of people is something that just could not be achieved. I watch people do things every day that I just could not do right now. And at the top of my nightmare list is something like the presentation he had to do. I actually used to perform a lot. From the age of around six to 16 I played the violin in a few orchestras. A couple of them were borough wide orchestras. Obviously I did this completely against my will, but did it I did.
When I was very young performing held no problems for me at all. I played solos in cathedrals. I played at the Royal Festival Hall when I was wee. I played at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham. And although I never got the kick out of performing that some people seem to get, it was something that I could do if I had to. Now, I struggle to be in the audience for concerts and events, such has my panic overwhelmed me.
So to me, it was clear what happened to Michael Bay. I don't think he suddenly decided to be an overpaid douchenugget and huff off stage because it wasn't perfect. I don't think that it was a publicity stunt. I think he panicked, went blank and did what everyone who is having a panic attack wants to do - he ran.
And to all those people who delighted in scorn and said things like: "All he had to do was speak.", and "What the fuck is wrong with him?" fuck you and your lack of anything approaching empathy. It was clear from the footage that he didn't leg it off stage in front of gazillions for his own selfish reasons. Why would he invite the ever ready ridicule?
My panics render me mute these days as I battle my gagging reflex. I have been struck dumb in one on one conversations with friends when panic has started to overwhelm me. So, I can completely understand the utter horror of staring out at a sea of expectant and scornful faces while feeling like a black hole is sucking me to hell. And instead of trying to struggle through some nonsense about screens and films, I'd have run too.
I've been accused of everything from fishing for sympathy to wanting attention over the years.
The media response to his meltdown is neither surprising nor unexpected but it is disappointing.
Panic attacks happen even to shiny media types. Who knew?
They could have used this to highlight how very very common these things are or they could have slagged off the fool who panicked, pointed and laughed. It's hard to believe it's 2014 sometimes.