"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

27 September 2011

The Ultra-Douche Complex

Or: Why do we allow assholes to have control and squash genuine individuals?

The following reflects my personal worldview and contains some ranting, not intended to be injurious to individuals… except douchebags and dicks… if you don’t know whether or not you fall into one of those classifications, I’m sorry but you probably do.

Inspired by this great interview with actor (and gorgeous human being), Sean Maher, my mind and emotions were stirred to advocate on behalf of the downtrodden. In this instance, ‘downtrodden’ equals ‘someone who is a genuinely decent person who feels forced or pressured into denying their true self while Douchebag McAsshat continues a successful life by being… well, Douchebag McAsshat.’
The entertainment industry exists as a shining example of the Realm in Which Douches Prosper, but if you think it’s only in Hollywood, smack yourself upside the head a few times and take a closer look at the world in which you live.
Everyday the news bombards us with details of politicians getting dumber and douchier. Not only are some of these scumbags and wackos currently in powerful positions of public office, over the next year we’ll be subjected to yet more outlandish displays of ridiculousness in the name of them ‘helping’ our society move forward.
It happens in business all the time. Comic strips like “Dilbert” and shows like The Office don’t have the staggering fanbase they do because they’re farcical reversals of real-life ‘structure.’ By and large, corporate number crunchers, office honchos, and senior management rank among some of the most out-of-touch, useless, narcissistic and douchey people you will ever find. Not necessarily the CEOs and such, though there are high-profile examples of their cockuppery as well – I’m talking about the people between them and the office ‘plebes’ who actually allow the company to function.
What irks my sense of universal hierarchy in all this isn’t just the incompetency of these people. Or their general douchery. Or their entitlement complex (Ever seen a mid-to-high level executive interact with a retail employee? It’s terrifying.). It’s the fact that we, as a society, let these people continue with their selfish, stupid, asshole tendencies and allow them to advance their careers while intelligent, capable, compassionate, stable-minded individuals get ground into the dirt, mentally and emotionally, for refusing to pattern themselves after the behavior of their ‘superiors.’ We promote asshole behavior in this country.

Beyond that, any time an individual is pressured into feeling like they cannot express themselves and who they are as an individual because of a narrow-minded worldview – whether professionally or personally – it’s an abuse of our right, in this country at least, to freedom of expression. The warped view we’ve garnered on freedom of speech is ludicrous. I’m sorry, but your right to express your views and say what you think ends when it callously, or intentionally, injures someone because you think your opinion is above reproach. Basically, when you shoot your mouth of just to be a dick and it hurts someone, you are a dick and if you get your ass kicked (verbally or even sometimes physically) and claim freedom of speech and right to voice your opinion as a defense, you should get your ass kicked again. As many times as it takes for you to realize that treating people like shit, especially unprovoked, is not a justifiable action in a personal or professional context.

Thus, when reading an article like the referenced above, I’m simultaneously proud of an individual who finally feels the comfort and freedom to profess their true nature (when their true nature is nothing to be ashamed of, nor something they should feel an inhibition about expressing), and angered by the fact that this person lived against themselves because of the cultural stigma which exists in our society.

For my part, I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bi, or a circus performing transvestite who reads to children at local hospitals on the weekend… I only think you should be forced to suppress yourself if you’re a dick. And the easy solution for not needing to suppress your inner dick? Don’t be one.


26 September 2011

A Report From the Other Side of the Lens

Or: Am I really getting paid to hang out with my friends?

Let me level with you: Acting is a rough career path to choose. Though, like many industries, the amount of work you do in relation to those around you is generally inversely proportional to how much respect, money, and chance for advancement you get. Good acting, solid acting, is difficult… but it’s not brain surgery. You’re not curing cancer. You’re not risking your life to protect other human beings. You’re not educating a future generation of lazy, sugar-high rugrats who have been raised in an ‘I’m entitled to whatever I want because that’s how mommy, daddy, the nanny, and the internet raise me’ generation. You’re not organizing the life of an individual who probably could not tie their shoes or find their way to the nearest Starbucks if not for you. Still, it’s a career I chose a long time ago to abandon because I didn’t want to put up with all the baggage involved. I wasn’t passionate enough to dedicate my life to it, and I don’t think you can seriously expect to make it your true job if you’re not.
This isn’t the post for me to enter into the flawed system of filmmaking and the aforementioned disparity between what you do on a set versus how people treat you (and how you are expected to behave/be treated). Suffice to say it’s one of my eternal grudges against the industry (and really, most industries) that because you hold a certain title in one situation, one job, that either entitles you to special, sometimes over-pampered, treatment OR degrades you to one of the muck-soaked peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That scene pretty much explains my feelings regarding any type of ridiculous hierarchical structure.

Anywhooos, yesterday I took a turn around the other side of the camera during a well-crewed, enjoyable shoot of an international commercial. The whole situation was quite surreal, mostly because I’m not used to being ‘talent’ when on a set, but also because it took an inordinate amount of internal adjusting to come to terms with the facts that a) I wasn’t just talent, I was principal talent, b) this required allowing myself to not jump in and help the crew and c) I was getting paid to ‘act’ with three of my closest friends.
Granted, it wasn’t all fun and rainbows. During the multiple takes, I got my ‘box’ slammed into a few times… but, you know, I don’t want kids anyway. That’s what happens when you’re the rudder of an office rowing team and you have to stop, and it takes everyone else a few seconds to catch up to you.

All in all, it was an intriguing study in the structure of filmmaking. I have to give a shout out to the crew for their efficiency with set-ups and generally being very easy-going, on top of everyone’s needs, and professional… on top of having a good sense of humor. I hope someday to see the fruits of our labor on YouTube or some such bastion of crazy internet videos.
In the meantime, unless the casting overlords see fit to start placing me in filmic creations with my close compadres, don’t expect me to return to acting as my creative outlet anytime soon… though if I do, I promise to not turn into one of ‘those’ actors.

19 September 2011

L.A. Strangetown

Or: How I learned to start worrying and wonder whether or not this world has any idea who I am...

I'm in the midst of major writer's block. Trying to get the writing brain started after a period of editing is providing soul-crushing levels of difficulty. Part of it is not feeling like I have a good place to write (as in, a physical location conducive to writing). Part of it is exhaustion/my own stupidity. Part of it is having told the writer mind to shut up for so long that it decided to go on an extended vacation and leave me in the arid silence of a wordless desert.
Part of it is a lack of validation for my writing, critically and, to be blunt, financially. I hunt gig postings like a hound for something other than corporate babble, SEO BS, or 'copywriting' (read: do everything related to writing, editing, and publishing our newsletter/blog/magazine/paper without all the benefits and money that go along with it), and find nothing that makes me even want to put together a writing sample. I know my capabilities as a writer. I know I can crank out corporate crap ad nauseum if I'm getting paid for it... I just would really like, for once, to be able to write in my own voice and have people accept that enough to toss a bit of dough my way. And I know anyone who desires writing as a career has these feelings, as do actors, designers, crafters, etc. We all want to put our own little stamp on the world, in our own way. Instead, far too many of us find ourselves trapped in a cubicle, or off on writing assignments which bear no resemblance to our actual interests, or scraping together rent from a myriad of 'creative' gigs -- because we 'chose' this path.
(Note use of quotations. Anyone who accepts and embraces a life in a field which relates to the creative, cultural and/or literary arts should recognize the flaw in stating that those fields were ones we chose of utter free will. Art chooses you. Those of us who know this realize how simple, and painfully dull, life would be if we just settled for accounting...)

Thus, I hold this inward struggle to attempt writing without foreseeable profit. It's need which drives me, and right now the need is not enough because even that itching in my fingers, that throbbing in my head, cannot coerce me into actual creation of material.

Then, the universe comes along in all its mighty cock-uppery and says, "Hey, you need money from a creative endeavor? We can totally give that to you. As an 'actor.'"
Granted, my ass is sore with getting itself kicked in the financial rear so much the past, well, always. Ergo, there's No.Way. I'm turning the opportunity (read: money) down. Yet is it so much to ask that I get a little cash for an endeavor I really care about? I have dozens of actor friends, many of whom would probably kick me for a) getting this opportunity and b) rail me for hours on how unfair this business is when they can't get work doing what they want, and I have the gall to be selected for something I only auditioned for to help out a friend. (Though I'd be willing to bet if they were thrown a desirable, for me, writing gig for this kind of money they'd take it.)

I'm happy about the gig. It'll be fun times with friends doing silly work for awesome money. I'd just feel like less of a tool if my writing garnered me similar work.

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