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Notice to Vacate

December 9, 2009

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.



4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    December 9, 2009 6:09 pm

    This is nothing new

    In the 17th century, Pepys was a huge fan of actress Nell Gwyn, who was mistress to King Charles II for awhile. Famous artists painted her, poets wrote poems about here, and Pepys wrote in his diary of having dreams about her.

    This is a famous engraving of her. Pepys kept a copy above his desk in his study (NSFW):

    What I’m saying here is, we didn’t invent this.

    By the way, the very first actor was a man named Thespis. He lived a very, very long time ago.

  2. Barry permalink*
    December 9, 2009 6:57 pm

    I confess to a certain degree of curiosity about Katie Holmes. It stems from her involvement with Tom Cruise, who I have heard is to Scientology what Maher-shalal-hash-baz is to Judaism. Or was it Mephibosheth?

  3. Jonathan permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:41 pm

    Tom Cruise is the # 2 scientologist. There are freaky recordings of him dreaming of the day when all non scientologists are dead. She is his fourth wife, and actually auditioned in order to marry him. There is no question that she is horribly oppressed. They lock her in an isolation chamber when she misbehaves, threaten to take her kid away when she tries to leave, etc.

    But the people who follow those tabloids aren’t really aware of that. I think it has more to do with the desire to live vicariously through others.

    I have written a bit of celebrity gossip myself. It is frivolous, yes, but it is a lot of fun to research and write. Here is an example of some gossip I wrote. The last three paragraphs sum up my feelings on the subject pretty well:

  4. Jonathan permalink
    December 9, 2009 7:52 pm

    And I would add to the above that celebrity worship also has a lot to do with the human tendency to lust after something unattainable.

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