Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thank the Writers, Dammit!

It's Oscar Night and I'm excited as ever about the films on the docket because I am a story-nerd and I love fiction in all its beautiful formats.


There is one thing that always makes me freaking insane about awards shows. We are watching the Pretty People accept their awards, giddy or crying and gushing thanks to their hair stylist, their dresser, the folks at the craft service table who made sure their non-fat lattes were really non-fat every day. Would it kill them to thank the people who INVENTED their freaking character? The people who came up with the words that came out of their mouths? This award's season, count how many people thank their dog (I'm looking at you, Christopher Plummer) before they thank the flippin' writers.

What does it say about our world that the Idea Creators are dismissed while those who Play Pretend Well are lauded as gods?

Name the greatest star of Shakespeare's day. Having trouble? What about Moliere's leading man? Ibsen's? Shaw's?

What has changed in our modern culture that we no longer honor the creators, but rather the faces?

The same thing bothers me in music. We revere those with beautiful voices. We ignore those who create the spell-binding songs. Composition, the true creation, that is what people love, but they give that love to those who are the mouthpieces, not those who are the creators.

Not to devalue what the performers do (because they do a lot!), but the imbalance makes me crazy. Probably because of my perspective. As an author, not a performer.

This is one of my favorite interviews of all time, and it plays to this subject - the idea of acting as a man's profession. Is celebrity good for anyone, even the celebrities?

I think the quote Colbert refers to is actually this one from Millard Kaufman (screenwriter nominated twice for Oscars). "Acting? Now that is a miserable profession. An awful life. Even the best of them, they sit around most of the year, not working, not doing anything. Marlon Brando once told me acting is not a job for a grown man. Even the successful ones. Like Humphrey Bogart. Who was a drinker. Very bright. A wonderful chess player. But most of the year he had nothing to do, so he drank. He was a helluva decent man."

Interesting, isn't it? The idea that we need activity, work, creativity to be whole and yet revere those who do their one piece of the puzzle beautifully, the fraction people. Is that part of why young, seemingly well-adjusted actors turn into Nick Nolte, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, & Charlie Sheen? (Though, yes, obviously the celebrity/paparazzi insanity plays a huge part.)

I've gotten off on a tangent. The moral of the story is - honor the creators. Especially if you yourself are being honored for taking part in their creation. Here's hoping all the actors remember to give a nod to their writers. (Especially since most of the nominees this year were based on books.)

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