The film-maker and actor on celebrity, why he loves guns, and his resentment towards youth
Hi Bobcat! We'll start with an easy one: what's wrong with America today?
Jeez, I don't know. People think I'm crabby having seen the new movie, (1) but I'm not this misanthrope who sits in a dark room, smoking, writing comments under YouTube clips.
People get that impression from your protagonist, Frank (2) – he's that kind of guy.
Yeah, but he's also a murderer. No one thought I was having sex with animals when I made Sleeping Dogs Lie. (3)
But this film is rooted in day-to-day annoyances. Whereas most people aren't fellating dogs.
Maybe it strikes a chord because this film is not vague. There are real people and things that are singled out. (4) I guess in most comedy they don't name names.
It has prompted a fair bit of rightwing ire …
I did have a more fair and balanced version where it wasn't just rightwing people being killed, but I felt that was very pandering. There are faults in the progressive movement, but cruelty isn't one of them. One of the things that inspired me was watching a clip of Tea Party members holding a poster saying: "We Came Unarmed ... This Time." I see your crazy and I raise your crazy ... Still, Frank is kind of conservative. He's obviously a gun owner. Weirdly, people see this movie as anti-gun, which is funny, because I own a gun.
I like going out and shooting garbage.
Like setting bottles up on a wall?
Oh sure. Yesterday I went to a range and shot targets all day. I'm a redneck. It's explosives that you can hold in your hand! When you're firing a gun you can't think about the outside world – you have to concentrate on what you're doing. It's a little bit like a mental sorbet – cleans the palate. Maybe this is where Frank and I start to meet.
How has celebrity culture changed since the 80s? (5)
A lack of shame can make you a celebrity now. People aren't very concerned with being fulfilled. I've never made less money, but I'm happier than I've ever been. Then you had this guy with fame who was making money and he goes and sets the Tonight Show on fire. (6) That's somebody that's thinking: I gotta get out!
Why did you do that?
I was in this hamster wheel of being famous for being famous, much like a reality star. You would put me on a talkshow, I would say outrageous things. I was just perpetuating myself as a celebrity and I found that really empty.
Do you feel as if your career is split into two sections? And one has to atone for the other?
No. But there are people who think that before it's OK to enjoy the movies I make, they have to let me atone. They say: "Oh, he's coming from a sincere place and asking for forgiveness." But I just make movies. I don't really care about people's perception of me.
But you did describe appearing in the Police Academy films as a "shit decision" ...
Sure, but I'm not trying to win people over. At the same time most people were getting out of college, I was offered a buttload of cash to star in a movie. I don't think most students would have said no.
What's your attitude towards youth? It seems as if the dads in your films don't like their kids very much … (7)
There's a part of me that's the old dude saying: "You kids get off my lawn" ... but a big part of my resentment towards youth is the fact that everything is skewed to the youth culture. Implying that they're better or they're important or they're good.
Aren't the older generation always going to think kids are idiots?
Maybe it's a warning to me. That if you don't go out and engage in the world, you can become a bitter old man. I don't want that to happen, but at the same time, I'm not going to cast Justin Bieber in a movie.
(1) God Bless America, which sees 50ish divorcee Frank go on a killing spree in protest at modern American culture.
(2) Frank's crusade is about bringing back manners.
(3) A 2006 Bobcat movie in which the lead ... pampers her pooch.
(4) Frank's victims include reality TV stars and Tea Party demonstrators.
(5) Bobcat was big in 80s standup before signing up as squeaky-voiced maniac Zed in the Police Academy movies.
(6) In 1994, Bobcat set his chair on fire in a live TV interview with Jay Leno. The incident inspired an episode of The Larry Sanders show in which Artie (Rip Torn) says: "Bobcat has serious mental problems."
(7) Frank's daughter is a brat. Robin Williams's schoolteacher in 2009's World's Greatest Dad is plagued by his odious teen.
• This article was amended on Friday 6 July 2012. The original referred to Frank - a character played by Bobcat Goldthwait in his movie God Bless America. Goldthwait is the director. Frank is played by Joel Murray. This has been corrected.