Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Fellow Americans, A Rant (& suggestion that some of you stop talking)

When someone says they want to be an actor, an artist, a writer, someone in the film industry, for example, people assume that they're saying they want to be Bradley Cooper, JK Rowling, Warhol, or Spielberg. They assume that the person is being delusional and uppity. 

When someone says they want to be an accountant, people can't name a famous celebrity accountant and so they never assume the person is delusional or uppity. (In point of fact, if I said I wanted to be an accountant, I would be completely delusional -- I'm horrible with numbers.) 

Despite the fact that the listeners likely have no idea how these arts operate, despite the fact that there are many middle class actors, artists, writers, and film industry folks and despite the fact that most often they're listening to someone who isn't interested in the celebrity of art but has -- in some very personal and intimate way -- fallen in love with a craft, with doing and making, and that most people realize that they're actually making sacrifices for this art they love and are painfully aware that a life in the arts comes at a great sacrifice and risk and the complete opposite of celebrity -- how could they not with the way we beat each other with the stick of the starving artist? -- REGARDLESS of ALL of this, the listener takes it upon themselves to beat down this person who has confessed their aspiration, to tell this person that they'll never make it. As a culture, we supposedly encourage greatness -- at least in theory. In practice, we don't. Sometimes that beating comes in through the door of "I'm being nurturing" sometimes through the door of "I'm just joking." 

Sadly, sometimes the artists set themselves up for it -- by engaging with people they know they should be wary of, by preempting with a joke themselves (I've done this many times), by allowing the person to get away with it so they feel empowered to go merrily along and do it to others -- completely and astonishingly blind to the fact that they're walking down hallways lined with paintings, passing a public sculpture, their earbuds tuned to the music they love, hopping into the car that they fell in love because of ads written by writers in scenes created by filmmakers, on their way home to binge-watch a TV show that was worked on by set-designers, costume designers, casting directors, special and visual effects, cast and crew, based on a novel, while sitting in a chair designed by someone who studied industrial design in an art school while wearing clothes designed by people who studied fashion and printmaking, inside of their homes filled with things bought in beautifully laid-out magazines created by designers,

Here is what I have to say to my fellow Americans, if you don't know what you're talking about, stop talking about it.