I’m going to change. I’m going to reform it altogether.
Why? Because the other Sunday night I watched the Golden Globe awards and saw…
the great and the small, mostly young and mostly small, mostly actors on the critical edges of their careers, seeking to demonstrate what talented, fascinating, beautiful people they really were as they sat there restlessly, suffering, forever seeking the camera’s eye and a chance to be seen by ravenous millions of fans. This television event is really big business in even bigger show business.
I sat there harrumphing in my disdain of the exuberance of these poor young people. In my upper middle, middle-class pretentious outrage I marked all the cute varieties of tuxedos, the open shirts, the gowns so perilously worn. And really annoying were their professionally pasted-on smiles and laughters, their hugging and their kissing, so essential to their manic performances.
Talk about conviviality! It was plastered on the event by the sharp steel of competition. These folks were out for professional blood and driven by every kind of anxiety known to man or woman-- desperately hoping to get hired for just one more good gig in order to pay the rent.
It’s a performance, by people always under the threat of living a life drained of authenticity by performance, of forever being nothing but a “motley to the view”-- everyone’s fool-- against which Shakespeare bitterly inveighed in his “actor’s” sonnet.
All these tender young souls must perform humility, gratitude, generosity, all that stuff-- and smile. Smile, Baby, Smile! Maybe if you are humble and glamorous enough, and smile enough, you’ll get a feature in PARADE! Just don’t let that dress fall down! And a tear or two won’t hurt.
What a way to live!
I harrumphed over every extravagance of behavior, every desperate, demure gesture for the camera-- and all that hugging and kissing! When our lovely “she” must surely be longing for the whole damned thing to be over so that she can put in appearance at the “after-party” to which she may or may not have been invited, before that blessed moment when she can shut her apartment door behind her and quit smiling, for God’s sake!
Yes, I must stop faulting these young artists for their possibly bizarre behavior or appearance. In the first place, because any one of them might have been a student of mine whom I urged on to try to break into just this life that aims at the Golden Globe.
Second, because they, poor souls, are “in captivity” in the thrall of the entertainment “industry”. In the old days, actors, musicians, performers of all kinds were either working out there alone, or in the care of agents, companies, managements, impresarios-- all of them rightful fellows in the work of entertainment. It was hard, but there was real fellowship, comradeship, and a common interest. It had its dignity. Sometimes it was art.
Of course there were the relatively small, direct sponsorships of particular artists. I’m thinking of the great days of radio, when, for instance, Maxwell House Coffee brought us the voice of Lanny Ross-- thirty lovely minutes of tenor song. “Lets have another cup of coffee, and lets have another piece of pie.” That, dear reader, is the sound of the good life.
But today, even that good old coffee, to say nothing of a piece of pie, is lost in big business, where at best it is only a tocsin name, faintly sounding of the past. So, no sooner does one of these golden globe young performers rise to public attention but she becomes, in a sense, the property of some corporate interest where she is only grist in the mill of a subdivision, an affiliate, lost among greater global aggressions. Her reward is to be baited most cruelly with the chance of celebrity and its emoluments.
No wonder these kids behave in such spectacular ways in front of the corporate cameras in the small hope of escaping from that particular prison of professional indenture into free-agent stardom.
When they come to the stage to be rewarded, they bore us with their endless stream of “thankyous”. But I notice that no one ever thanks them for their life of sacrifice to our pleasure! No one! It kills me.
Those are my kids. Let them show off as brazenly as ever they want or can. I should have the common decency to stand up for them and applaud them to the skies.
After all, these kids are our entertainers! Where would we be without them! How could we live without them! I suspect that life cannot be lived without being entertained. And these entertainers are, after all, the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. And, as Hamlet knew so well, deserve to be treated generously and with deep respect. Not to mention that, as he warns us, if we don’t treat them with this decency and respect, even cherish them, they may tell on us… tell what pitiful lives we live.
So, I herewith promise to change. No more harrumpfing. I’m reformed altogether.
Bring in the clowns.