ANATOMY OF CELEBRITY How Movie Stars Deal with the Public by James Jaeger
Hollywood is a circus of illusions and nowhere is this truer than in the images stars, "name talents" and celebrities attempt to maintain.
Some stars have reputations for being "such nice, genuine guys" or "such a real, down-to-earth person," etc. You have heard these descriptions often, especially from celebrity magazines and "entertainment" news shows strategically peppered all over corporate-dominated, mainstream media to keep the MPAA studios' hot celebrity-properties hot.
But when a star gets out of line, he or she's promoted as one of Hollywood's "bad boys" or "bad girls." The mags and shows spin the improper conduct as something risqué or intriguing in order to cast the "studio assets" as the cool, but struggling, underdog who will somehow get it together by the third act. After doing the expected celebrity drug rehab stint and then the standard make-amends, PR junket, the "bad boy celeb" will let all their younger fans know that they should do as they say, not as they do.
My observation after working in the entertainment business since about 1974 is that the celebrities that look like the "good boys" are actually the bad boys and the ones that look like the "bad boys" are actually regular folk or exceptionally good people. Here's how it works.
The Nice Celeb:
The NICE GUY star is "nice" because s/he has surrounded him/herself with at least the following:
1. nasty, hostile agents;
2. paranoid, restricting publicists;
3. ruthless, mercenary lawyers;
4. watchdog sycophant "friends" and associates;
5. iron-clad policies to wire 1 to 4 into an outsider-proof fortress.
Under such circumstances, OF COURSE, Mr. Star can appear to be Mr. Nice Guy when he goes on OPRAH, Larry King or before Barbara Walter's acid questioning. OF COURSE the star comes off sweet and genuine and real: he's got his army of hit-men and policy Nazis keeping absolutely EVERY person and every THING in the universe AWAY and OUT of his or her face and existence. This means, even though such star says he loves his fellows, it's a lie: he hates or disdains his fellows and does everything in his power to route them away or to the proper, hostile agent, mercenary lawyer or watchdog associate. What ever it takes to "handle" them and turn them into a non-existent piece of dust that his Gestapo maid can vacuum up and dump in the trash.
This is the anatomy, and real essence, of the "nice-guy" celebrity. Count on it.
The Mean Celeb:
On the other hand, celebrities that come off as the harried "bad boys," the "mean" or "difficult" ones are actually the ones with heart -- and who are real. These celebrities actually like and enjoy interacting with real people. And THIS is, OF COURSE, why they get into "trouble" -- the real world IS trouble.
Here's how it works for them. The MEAN GUY star is "mean" because s/he MAY HAVE surrounded him/herself with:
1. easy-going, creative agents;
2. open, friendly publicists;
3. accommodating, judicial lawyers;
4. truthful, down-to-earth friends and associates;
5. flexible policies allow interaction and empathy for the public.
Under such circumstances, Mr. Mean Boy Star will inevitably have more frequent "bad hair days." Since he hasn't built a fortress around himself to make certain every molecule in his universe is always in place, perfectly- ordered and running on Nazi policy, he will be much more likely to encounter AND interact with the real world and even real people. When such a celeb interacts with the real world, he or she, as the more empathetic human being they ARE, will actually FEEL and REACT as a real person, not a concentration camp guard.(1)
Such a star, refusing to insolate themselves from humanity, demonstrates a genuine caring for people who are less fortunate. Such a star may very well use portions of his or her fortune to set up systems that can actually encourage interaction with ordinary people, people of need, crime victims and struggling artists. This star realizes that the more people s/he interacts with, the more likely s/he will be able to give hope, recognition, validation and encouragement where it will make a real difference in the real world. This interaction, however, inevitably creates turbulence for the star because -- through the mere act of interacting -- the star will absorb some of the general entropy of the public's universe, while emitting some of their order and wealth to that universe. Heat is always transferred from the hotter entity to the cooler entity, per the First Law of Thermodynamics.
But your Nice Guy star is much too selfish to do or allow any of this. He cherishes his wealth and order way too much, and is not about to become "enturbulated" just so he can "help" or touch someone in public.
In the end, the Nice Guy celebrity is "nice" because he's in total control of his environment and is even proud of this "accomplishment." He or she doesn't have to confront reality or interact with many, or even ANY outsiders or, god-forbid pesky fans (the ones that make their celebrity possible). This would open the door to a loss of control, hence a loss of nice-guy cool. Such a celebrity garners a good reputation within the Hollywood community only because s/he is always so nice-gal cool and thus able to be always on a best-behavior basis -- all made possible because such celebrity is a control-freak beyond comprehension that keeps the real world chaos as far away as possible. Such a star NEVER has a "bad hair day". Such a star will CUT all his hair OFF to make certain that the possibility of a "bad hair day" doesn't even EXIST. Such a star will make absolutely certain s/he never interacts with a member of the public, who -- horror or all horrors -- might ask the celeb for an autograph or maybe even some Federal Reserve Notes because they just lost their $15,000 a-year-job. Such a star will never put themselves in the position of having to feel GUILTY for earning $20 million a picture -- in the relatively trivial profession of ACTING -- while others, "out there," are starving or losing their homes and businesses.
The cool, nice-guy celebrity is insolated from all this by his nasty, hostile agents, paranoid, restricting publicists, ruthless, mercenary lawyers, watchdog sycophant "friends" and associates and iron-clad policies that ensure 1 to 4 work together to create an outsider-proof fortress.
Celebrity Charity and Public Relations:
You won't get a Christmas card from one of the "mean, bad boy stars" -- BUT you may very well get one from the "nice guy star." Of COURSE: the mean guy star is MEAN, this is why s/he doesn't send out cards. But the nice guy celeb DOES send out cards. That PROVES he's nice! Right? No moron, wrong!
The nice guy star has publicists, handlers, PR experts and marketers who have well-calculated the returns such jesters can generate from the moron, celebrity tit-sucking "public" and these agents will DEMAND the celeb dip into his or her millions for some stamps. Even if the celeb can only dine at Tuttie-Tuts on Sunset 50 times per year rather than 55 times per year.
On the other hand, the bad-boy, mean star can't do any of this because he's too busy in the gutter helping or interacting with actual people, and besides he actually HAVES no publicists, handlers, PR experts or marketers because he HAS no money to pay for such. Such celeb has given all his money away as KINGLY GIFTS to family, friends and complete strangers in need.
The nice-guy star will instead "give" to all manner of mainstream, politically-correct, corporate-approved charities: an act his paranoid, restricting publicists will manage to leak out or make well known. To the Larry King-addicted, Oprah Winfrey-crippled, Barbara Walters-approved, bumpkin public, such acts will seem so nice, so humanitarian. S/he's "such nice, genuine" gal, "such a real, down-to-earth person" who cares. He really DOES care about supporting and sponsoring "new talent" -- look at all the Christmas cards, charities, film festivals and jaunts to the Third World s/he does.
So, that's the anatomy of so-called stars and celebrities. This is probably why Europeans generally ignore actors and focus their attention on directors and writers. They are mature and intelligent enough to realize that most of what stars do, say and put out is fake and derivative. A movie is made by three people: the screenwriter, the director and the editor. Period. Stars, "name talents" and celebrities are irrelevant to the process and can be manufactured at any time by producers and directors.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS "STAR QUALITY."
ANY HUMAN BEING IS A POTENTIAL STAR UNDER THE CREATIVE AUSPICES OF A COMPETENT WRITER, DIRECTOR AND/OR EDITOR.
To assign one human being over another the fictional quality of "star quality" is not only elitist, but bigoted. Anyone can have "star quality" if they are happy, drug- and alcohol-free, well-compensated AND, most of all, appearing in an excellently written screenplay, under talented direction and edited by a competent editor.(2) The term "star quality" and "star power" are ploys drummed up by studio marketing departments in order to increase the marquis value of their studio assets. Stars -- the entities the stupid, moron American public worships -- are actually meaningless frauds designed to bring in revenues so stockholders and studio managements can reap benefits. They are personnel assets, no different than any other assets except they require a higher degree to maintenance and illusion. Europeans have realized this for quite some time -- and so do some of the American celebrities: the "bad boys" and "mean girls."
In the end, stars, "name talents" and celebrity's play the GOOD COP, BAD COP game to the hilt. The fraudulent, "nice guy" star, makes his agents, publicists, friends, associates and management team the BAD COPs, while s/he has the luxury of playing the part of the GOOD COP. So the next time you find yourself enamored with some "nice-guy star," remember: Hollywood is a circus of illusions and no one has the ability, motive and money to play you for a sucker better than an "a-list" celebrity.(3)(4)
(1) One of the places you can see the veneer come off celebrities is how they treat people who call in for (their) shows to ask a question. While this simple observation is not true for all celebrities, you will often notice an impatience in the celeb's voice as the "public person" asks their question. You can almost read the celebrity's mind as they "tolerate" a mere mortal speaking to them. "Is this caller an asset or liability to my show" is what reeks all over the celeb's face. The celeb hates being exposed to ordinary people, but the show requires it. The celeb is thus often rude or pushy, iced over with a fake sense of "caring" and "interest," before s/he cuts off the mic, never too soon. In this essay, I have refrained from using any names, but if you bear in mind the things discussed here, you will be able to observe some or all of these things in some or all of your favorite stars and celebrities.
(2) Also, most people don't realize that the "acting" you actually hear coming out of a star's mouth in the final movies was "looped" into their mouths long after they did their performance on the set. 70% to 90% of the dialog on a "star-vehicle" feature is looped, also known as ADR (automatic dialog replacement). Thus, a star doesn't even have to be able to speak, let along act, for a movie as the director or editor can bring in another person, any person in fact, to properly loop (act out) the star's lines. There are people in the business that not only specialize as star "body doubles," but voice imitators. The star can be, and often is, out drunk on some island while others are "home" doing the work for which the celeb takes the undeserved credit.
(3) This essay recognizes that there are a few stars out there that have been able to maintain a good balance between the good cop and the bad cop life-styles, but they are one in a million. This essay also recognizes that there are a few American audience members that aren't star-struck morons. If in fact you were in any way offended by the use of the terms moron or stupid, ect., them most likely these terms targeted, and fit, you perfectly.
(4) Listen to this exchange between an irate star, Christian Bale, and the Director's DP. http://www.aolcdn.com/tmz_audio/020209_christianbale.mp3. As discussed herein, is Bale a nice guy or just another Hollywood star using their power to abuse? Hollywood is full of people that have incredible amounts of pent-up hostility, unfortunately, many of them remain covert until some event "justifies" an explosion. The constant use of alcohol and drugs, illegal and/or pharmaseutical, are usually in the background reducing tollerance and setting the groundwork for inhibited communication and blowups. I'm not saying this DP is right in walking around the set during a take, but did Bale notify the director that his DP was anoying and ask the director to please do something about it, or did Bale just blow up "out of the blue" -- perhaps because Mr. Bale actually IS a nice guy with easy-going, creative agents; open, friendly publicists; accommodating, judicial lawyers; truthful, down-to-earth friends and associates; and/or flexible policies which allow too much interaction and empathy for the public and/or people that work around him?
Originated: 10 January 2009
Augmented: 03 February 2009
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