Notice to Vacate
Today I was standing in line at CVS, waiting to pay for the fish oil I’m buying for my eczema.
Read that sentence again. It’s supposed to set the scene, but it’s pretty funny on its own.
Anyway, while I was standing in line, my eyes wandered to the tabloids, which owe their existence to the lowered impulse control standards many people experience when about to exchange money for goods. And on the cover of one, it said, approximately, “KATIE MOVES OUT! HER NEW DIGS” and showed a luxurious brownstone that must have cost millions.
Everyone knows celebrities have big houses and nice things. We also know that a necessary consequence of our kind of capitalism is people can be grossly rewarded for silly achievements. And I hope everyone knows that Katie Holmes is a dope. If she has achieved something non-silly, I haven’t heard about it. But somehow, the mixture of colossal dope Katie Holmes getting a big house, me getting fish oil for my eczema on the way back from Kinkos where I paid to print my health care renewal forms, and CVS getting geometrically more depressing with every millisecond I spent inside it converged mightily in my cortex, and it came to me:
We are awful.
Yes, unjust compensation as a function of capitalism must be taken for granted. But I am through taking for granted what some of this compensation is really intended to reward. At least in the case of actors like Katie Holmes. It is awful, so truly awful of all of us to allow Katie Holmes to make a living.
Actors are just good at pretending. And before you invoke Stanislavski, let me point out that once art becomes output, your methods are unimportant. With acting, the end result is a performance rooted in pretend. At least with Katie Holmes acting. She hasn’t gotten any better. Her performances aren’t metaphorical onions, reflecting translucent layers of our truest selves while making us cry. She’s
an interestingly crooked-faced little girl who pretends. And she gets whatever she wants, because somewhere down the line, we have decided to be impressed by that.
Are you? Is anybody? Do people love Katie Holmes? Still? I feel lost.
I feel like I’m misunderstanding something. I feel it is truly impossible to distill the merit of what we are rewarding to a level beyond simply pretty-girl-play-pretend.
In moments like these, I go into Alien Visitor mode. Just step back and look at our society as an assiduous researcher from space might. Or maybe just from Eritrea or someplace similarly shit-poor. And in this mode, I make a note: the way to succeed in our society, to get whatever you want, is to be an OK actor.
Not a good actor. I believe that dramatic art does have the aforementioned onion potential, although I don’t think it’s worth millions, either. But this OK actor thing is what’s dangerous, sad, and awful.
We perpetuate it being OK to be Katie Holmes for a living, and in doing so, our acceptance of mediocrity becomes a pied piper that lures thousands, nay, millions of crooked faced ingenues away from the useful professions. That’s why there’s more eye candy at Outback than at the DMV.
This is ruining the economy, and I think it gave me eczema.