Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Shut Up Hollywood


I haven't said, "Shut up," in a long, long time. Somewhere along the line, I decided it was disrespectful or, at the very least, rude. I admit to a declared, "Shuuuuut- up!!!!," when someone says something outrageous or funny. Granted, it's a silly response, but I heard a young kid say it and it tickled me. So, occasionally it leaks out.

Telling anyone to, "Shut up," is not me anymore. I figure everyone is entitled to their idea, their opinion. Just as I'm entitled to not listen to it. Like advice, unless it's asked for, best to keep it to yourself. Advice, not asked for, isn't advice- it's interference. An opinion not asked for, isn't an opinion- it's noise.

I hated it through the election process and was glad the urge to spew was quelled when the campaign signs came down. However, I'm noticing it creeping up again and it really annoys me. So, I simply have to say it. "Shut up!"

The other day, Ashley Judd makes a pronouncement about how she's glad to be "living in America again," going on to say how America was destroyed under the previous president, ya-da, ya-da, ya. Old news, Ash, let it go. Tom Hanks, one of my absolute favorites, recently disappointed me when he couldn't resist an off the cuff comment. Assuming facts not in evidence, Tom. And, who knows when Sean Penn will enlighten us all with another outlandish statement. Anyone know what time the Mother Ship is coming back to pick him up?

You are actors. ACTORS! Stop believing your own press. Why do you feel you have the right to make public pronouncements and have them ingested by the populace? Let me say it again...you're all simply actors. Not rocket scientists. Not humanitarians like Mother Teresa. Not brain surgeons. Not inventors. You're actors!

Your actions are scripted and determined by a director. You say lines that someone else wrote for you to say. Wearing clothes someone dressed you in. Standing in an environment that was fabricated to convey a specific moment in time. The character you play is a writer's brain-child. It's make believe and you are only a tooth in a big cog.

Renown director, Alfred Hitchcock was misquoted as saying, "All actors are cattle." He went on the record to set it straight, "I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle." Amen, Mr. Hitchcock. Amen. If cattle aren't shouting their opinions from the fields where they stand, I'm thinking actors should follow their lead. When you're standing on the red carpet, flash us your bright smile, not your personal opinion!

There's a valid reason that there was a studio system in the hey-day of Hollywood. In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, all actors were under contract to a particular studio. You had handlers and public relations people. You were given housing at the studio or a home to occupy; an allowance; you had staff to attend you and spy on you. It was decided what you would wear, how you would look in public. With whom you would be seen. And most particularly, what you would be allowed to say in public or to a reporter. Your life was completely scripted on and off the set.

If you didn't abide by the rules, you were OUT! Didn't make any difference if you were Bogart or the newest darling. The rules were the rules. It kept things in order for the most part. Why? Because, actors, like most creative minds have a tendency to be chaotic. Sparky. Unpredictable. And, in a complex environment, you can't have everyone walking about half-cocked, shooting off their mouths simply because they believe their own press. It was the studio execs' way of managing a vast enterprise, egos, and an actor's misguided sense of importance.

Ah, the good old days well before my time. I miss them. Today's actors, who are simply working slobs like the rest of us, are too often given the opportunity to spew their opinions whenever they wish. And, I want to scream, "Who asked you? Shut up!"

I can't blame them entirely; the media creates this static. They keep giving them face-time and asking for their opinions, as though they're authorities on every topic. And we lap it up, content to hold them in a false position of advanced knowledge. But, if we didn't listen in awe when they speak, a lot of this nonsense would dissipate. I'm afraid that's not likely to happen. We don't seem able to separate the actor from the roles they play, either. And, we certainly believe the press that gets spun about them.

Please, Hollywood elites, I'm begging. Just do your job; remember it's a job. Yes, you are entitled to your opinions just as any other Human Being is entitled. But, you do not have the right to use your fame to shoot your mouth off in public. You do not possess super human powers to set things right from the pulpit of your pulp fiction. You're an actor. So, act.

Recognizing your skill, your craft, your hard work, your ability to entertain, I am thrilled to applaud when you provide a worthy performance. I do not, however, applaud your running off at the mouth because you believe that working in Hollywood gives you power. Quite the contrary, I truly dislike you for doing it. If I want to know what you think, I'll ask or read your book. Just act. Don't talk.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

7 comments:

Eileen said...

Just one question, do you feel this way EVERY TIME you hear an opinion expressed or just when it is one that goes against your own personally held views? Holly, you know I love you, so this is not meant to sound as mean as it might upon first reading. I think this is just trickier now when you consider the reach and speed of mass communications now versus "back in the good old days". We all may have a new sense of entitlement to "share". Because really aren't we bloggers kind of doing the same thing? We're writing our views on any number of subjects and sending them out into cyperspace and there may be people sitting there saying to us "Shut-up already" ... Who asked for your random thoughts? And any good organization that has a message to get out knows that to use a spokesperson that's appealing to the masses gets their message heard to a bigger audience. I think this is just part of the way the whole system works ... not a reflection on an individual actor deciding that they know best. Okay, I'll shut-up!

Holly said...

Thanks, Eileen and yes, I considered that as a blogger, I could be thought to be doing the same. However, the major difference to my mind is that, people decide to come here to read my thoughts. What I write isn't inflicted on everyone's eyes and ears. A reader deliberatly consents. With one click, if you don't like what I wrote, that's the end of it; you're gone and my words stay in cyber space. It has nothing to do with the opinion that's being shared by these actors. And, I'm not talking about those who are doing a paid job to be a product spokesperson. It's that I'm weary of the sense of entitlement of actors to say whatever thought they have simply because they're actors. I believe, we'll never move forward so long as people, whoever they are, feel like they should keep the waters stirred by revisiting old news. Let it go and move on. Show some grace. Do a job. And remember who you really are, not who you are told you are. When every person's opinion receives the same level of prominence as any hollywood slob's, I promise I won't feel this way. But, the public doesn't listen to Hollywood types with the same. Without proving it, they're perceived as being more credible and worthy. But,when one is a public figure, one must be held to a higher standard and behave accordingly. That's actually the law and it's a good one. Now, it's my turn to shut up.

Heather said...

I also get annoyed by this, but I wonder - do you feel the same way about actors who are using their celebrity status to bring awareness to other issues? Things like, breast cancer, the plight of 3rd-World countries, or even autism.

To me, it's similar, and if we ask them to "shut up already" we may not see the same progress if they stopped talking about anything other than acting.

Eileen said...

Thanks Heather ... this was similar to my thoughts but expressed it more clearly. In whatever size platform one has access to, we are all prone to want to be in on the discussion of the day and the rest of the world has permission to take it or leave it. Oh yes, I was suppose to SUp ... whoops, see how hard it is!!!

Donna said...

I agree in one aspect with all of you....and, who cares who is married to whom, who leaves whom for another, etc, etc, etc. I don't read those magazines and frankly, I could care less...I have enough problems of my own to take on theirs. As for their political views, I don't care either and when the Sean Penns and Ashley Judds of the world comes on TV, I usually change the channel and, you know what, I much rather watch an old black and white movie then any movie out today...no wonder the world is like it is. What ever happen to good old movies by good old actors? Are there still any out there? And don't even get me started regarding the talk show hosts. I agree with Holly, SHUT UP and I agree with Eileen and Heather - just change the channel. As for your blog, Holly - I love it, I can't wait to get on in the morning and when I miss a day now and then, I can't wait to catch up. Keep up the good work.

Holly said...

Heather, your point is well taken. Donna, thanks for your words, too. Let me just say this: in my mind, being paid to promote a product is part of being a celebrity. Being a spokesperson to further a particular cause is also part of the job. I don't have a problem with either of these. Let's face it, I made a career being the spokesperson for an organization or individual. However, as you know from your class time with me, I was always adament about making it crystal clear when I was offering a personal opinion vs. a teacher's considered opinion. I believe actors have gotten so that they feel they're opinion, be it personal or paid, are one and the same. They are not! I believe those who use their celebretie to further a cause are doing what they feel they should. But, saying whatever you think, whenever you think it, is not part of that work. And, that's the part with which I take such issue.

melissa said...

Well...I thought about this for a bit. I've decided that maybe we as an audience are enabling the kind of behavior that irritates us.

Seems like a lot of "ordinary" people give an awful lot of credence to what their favorite celebrities have to say. In fact, they wouldn't BE celebrities if we didn't keep applauding their every move, both professional and personal. I have a personal ban on magazines (except those with horse topics or those horrible wedding ones- i'm addicted to the pretty pictures) and I don't watch any of the celebrity shows on television.

I'm glad that these people can entertain me with their creative efforts, but I try to remember that it's a job. These individuals are as free as I am to come up with an opinion, and more likely to be given a public forum to express that opinion. That doesn't mean I have to listen to it or agree with it. I'll keep right on sharing my opinions with friends and family, instead of in the press. (Unless you count this blog.) And I certainly won't expect anyone to give up their own thought process to follow mine, based on my career path.

Beware the power of lemmings.
~m

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