Disclaimer: I wrote this in an hour-long car ride last Saturday, and hope to start up a small research project regarding women and sex in the entertainment industry. This is just a rough sketch of some of the thoughts that irk me the most…
The entertainment industry is a big, scary and utterly disgusting thing, yet I’m still so much in love with it. I’m sure many of you could say the same thing.
Throughout the past couple days, I’ve been investing most of my hermit-like time escaping through dark biopics of glorified and ruined lives, enlightening myself with the angsty, guitar-driven anthems of teenage rebellion, and uncovering the young souls of those who are most “successful” in this industry through interviews and articles, trying to understand what exactly is the core that makes them who they are in this industry.
I believe anyone past the age of 13 can blatantly see what problems lie in the industry; and, it takes the rather curious souls to research and look into the lives of these so-called celebrities, child stars, and sex icons. Time after time, we’re always thrown information on the latest “star” to go into rehab, while headlines talk of the sappy sad truth of a child star’s life who has been ruined being in the eye of the media and the love affair of a young actress and an elder married man. These things sell. Humans love gossip. And in our very uninteresting, mundane and rather boring work and school lives, these stories give us something to talk about–how we’re so much better than these people who make millions of dollars a year, how we grow respect or apathy for someone we looked up to, or even how we love making cheap talk scolding other people’s lives. Everyone knows how the lack of privacy and anonymity is one of the worst trade-offs in the industry, but yet, we still love it.
With that in mind, I began to think of reasons as to why people love being in the industry so much. (And rather, why people like me are so interested in this industry and hope to find a place for myself in it.) One of the things I’ve never really given much thought of, or really spoke of much to other people, was how I’ve always had recurring thoughts of wanting to make a hobby out of acting (or performing, for that matter). One of the things that made me so interested in it was perhaps my own insecurity. Being involved in performing cultural folklore dances for 7 years, I’ve already grown an innate love for the performing arts. I love the idea of creating your own character and “transforming” yourself into someone else. I guess that’s one of the main reasons people love the entertainment industry so much–it’s a means of escaping everyday life with a quick trip to the cineplex or box office. And, if you’re actually involved in it, you love the idea of portraying and being different people. For me, personally, I’ve always been a very insecure person. Throughout most of my young life, I never felt fully comfortable around people and felt rather awkward–reason being I was never a socialite or person who spent most of her time outdoors interacting with others. I’ve always been a private person. One of the biggest secrets of many actors and actresses–or rather the impassioned ones who long for this lifestyle–are that they are entirely insecure. I know I can’t be speaking for all, but there are a good amount of rather introverted stars who shine best in their element when they are performing–much the same of me. (One starlet has said, and I quote, “[That] insecurity is what drives people into this industry.”) People may be drawn to this industry because they have the desire to feel needed, wanted, and adored. Now, in actuality, I’m a very boring person who doesn’t do much, and it isn’t until I’m working on a project where I am put to good use where I find a reason for my living. I simply love performing, playing guitar, playing music, and writing, possibly because of the hope that it will take me someplace of internal worth someday (and, it’s where I can express myself while my vocal chords become all shriveled up in person). You see, the artistic soul is very introverted. It tends to not know how to behave or act or just be without artistic direction. But, performing gives me that direction. Personally, I feel I never know how to just be without having something already pre-planned in my mind. (Albeit, I live a very “on-the-whim”, spontaneous kind of lifestyle, but that’s a story for another time.) I believe the life of an artist provides freedom and direction in a way where communication isn’t suitable; and when one lusts for this lifestyle, it’s because they cannot live in internal peace while immersed into the external world. (Because–I’ll say it–the real world can be a damn hard world.) So, what I’m trying to say here, is that people who love to perform and be in this industry are generally insecure and shy people. Being in entertainment, you’re naturally compared to everyone else, which is very suffocating and causes you to question your own worth. But, you are willing to give up anything for the one thing that makes you feel most in your element–the acting, the writing, the music, etc.–, even if it means a lack of anonymity or constant ridicule. The trade-offs are so much more rewarding than a silly thing of people constantly mocking you. (You tell them to put their personal lives on the line!)
How do people get ahead in this industry? Now, this is one of the things that has recently inspired and irked me the most. Being a woman in this world and in this society, and a hopeful one in this industry, I have to say we have it the hardest. (Women have always had it the hardest throughout the years, hm?!) Even in the Middle Ages and old tradition, women have always been perceived as objects of affection. Women were always very sheltered in the sense they always had to keep a tight-lip and stay indoors or say the right thing. (Yes, I understand there are all these stereotypical and scientific explanations for women being more innate to the home and nurture environment, but in this modern “brave new world”, women have taken a shift in their roles and, as of recent decades, have been rebelling to prove their equality [ex.: women’s suffrage and right to vote, 1920; women in rock & roll, 1970s; activism against prostitution, 1980s].) Before you make any assumptions, I wouldn’t classify myself as any “crazy feminist”. In fact, I’m just a girl who cares about herself and her position in this world, and there’s no wrong in being a little impassioned about these inequalities, ya? Well, women in entertainment are DANGEROUSLY sexualized, all the time. Even to the point of young actresses being sexualized by society before they even have the breathing space to prove themselves real credit/merit, beyond their sexuality. | Now why do you think you hear mostly of women having that disorder, or health issue, or tragic “death” caused by society that ended her career? It’s because women are so conceptualized in this industry that one ounce of imperfection is unattractive–and attraction is everything in this industry. Every flaw, mistake, or noteworthy headline a woman makes in the media is heavily investigated with huge microscopic glasses that makes the matter bigger than it really is. Pointing out the trivial issues in people–which women are typically not forgiven for–never solves anything, and it only continues to hurt these people (leading towards those disorders, health issues, or “deaths”).
(To be continued…)
Perhaps many performers forget that Hollywood is first and foremost a business. I would say that those who have succeeded, male or female, have learned to recognize and deal with both the artistic and business aspects of Hollywood. Some of the success is talent and beauty, some of it is luck and persistence.
I once heard actor Jim Caviezel say that you needed a strong sense of humor to handle Hollywood. I think he got it right. 🙂
I think that’s really important to remember. Sometimes we get too caught up in the act that we have to remember this is just a job and a business and we should be able to laugh at it sometimes as well… Thank you for the comment. 🙂
Great post. Agree we love being able to think we’re “better” than the stars. I feel that the entertainment industry (which I myself work in) preys on the weak-willed, those who will do what their told, those that can be tossed aside when they stop being useful. Those with a backbone tend to only rise in extreme situations, when the person is a superior talent, or extraordinary looking, or very well connected, so the power that be can’t stop them.
Women in entertainment can’t just be funny, or talented, or smart- they have to be sexy too. Jonah Hill can become A-list but there is no female counterpart.
One thing that stuck out to me on a rewatching of Bridesmaids is Kristen Wigg repeatedly bemoans that her rival is thinner than her. This was so bizarre to me because 1) it wasn’t true, 2) Kristen Wigg is distractingly thin so even if it had been true, it wouldn’t be a positive truth, & 3) they were competing for another woman’s friendship. Is Maya Rudolph really going to pick who she spends her time with based on waist size? It was so crazy and saddened me because it was proof women still get in each other’s way.
I agree with you. Hollywood places such a bizarre emphasis on size and appearance that they even make it place a role on friendships! I guess those who get ahead fastest are those who are attractive… It is true to some extent, in our sad modern world, and there’s little we can do to change it. Women are still perceived as objects of affection to men, which may be a reason for women always being as attractive as they can be, while men can go off and be themselves (your Jonah Hill example, for instance). Thank you for the thoughts though!
And may I ask, how did you get yourself to work in the entertainment industry? As in, how may a girl like me find those connections and really find my own place in it? Thank you again. 🙂
Debated with a male friend about do the masses really care that much about appearances as they do talent. I think that most people aren’t going to care about someone’s beauty if they are a great comic, musician, actor, etc but my friend said that the people deciding who gets signed, cast, etc are men and they want to be surrounded by beautiful girls.
For someone who wants to break into entertainment, there are two venues you can try (or do both at the same time). 1)Get a job as a receptionist for a production or post-production company, or a media company of some kind and try to work your way up. If you’re willing to live with your folks or don’t mind not knowing when your next paycheck will be, freelance work on films set or on a show (Mandy.com is a good site to look for film/tv work). After some time freelance work can become very lucrative but it’s tough/scary at first so I’ve avoided it.
2) Go to show, get entrenched in some sort of scene. If you’re a writer produce your own work and cultivate a group of actors. A lot of getting into the industry is doing stuff on your own dime or for free until you build enough of a name for yourself to get people to invest in you.
Where are you located? Your chances of breaking into the industry are infinitely better if you live in L.A. or NYC (maybe Chicago if you’re a theater buff).
That is true. People respect a brilliant artist when they see one. It’s looks that first attracts one to another, and in this fast-paced business, people aren’t usually inclined to put in a little more effort to look into someone; rather, they have to initially be attracted and interested in someone to be lured into their talent. And, that is also another thing I want to discuss about… How women are perceived in the entertainment industry, especially being “sold” and “packaged” as sex, or, in other words, being surrounded by beautiful girls.
And thank you for those two tips. What did you yourself do? and how long have you been working in the industry? I reside in the Bay Area, CA, just outside of San Francisco, but I currently go to school in Irvine down in Orange County, outside of L.A. I’m more interested in the music scene, but I also love writing about films and would like to try my hand at collaborating on a film project. (Music/movie journalism is also another option right?) My heart ultimately lies in music and I hope to be able to play guitar professionally sometime–possibly write as well–but we’ll see. Once I get my schooling done I’m sure I’ll have a lot more time to jump into opportunities! Right now, it’s just about finding some work and starting real groundwork towards what I want to do, so I think part-time gigs, internships, and freelance work would suit me well… It’s just a bit difficult to find those connections and look in the right places!
Thank you again for your comments. I appreciate it a lot!
I personally got a job as a receptionist at a post-production company and now work for a company that handles international distribution of television programs. Post-production is much more stable than production which relies more on freelance workers up the project is done and I really am too much of a worrying to be project to project, three months of work here, six months there, etc.
I produce my own plays and have started to dip my toe into stand-up after watching a friend do that and make a lot of good connection. Also looking up established blogs that write similar stuff to my own and take submissions.
Don’t know much about the music industry, good luck!