The Simpsons called it years ago.
The Simpsons called it years ago.
Today is International Women’s Day, so I thought it was important to discuss a topic that is entirely relevant; men.
While the video above is at least ten years old, since Jenny Jones has not been on the air since 2003, it resurfaced online a couple days ago. The first time I watched it, it ripped my heart out and I burst out crying, but not for the more personal reasons anyone who knows me would assume. Although I lost my father at a young age, my experience was completely different from this little boy’s.
There has been a lot of talk about how the rise of women has led to the fall of men - that men no longer know where they belong in our modern society since their traditional roles are now being filled by women. But to me, as evidenced by this video, the trouble with our buys does not stem from the women who are in their lives, but from the men who aren’t.
You guys have seen Mad Men, right? Don Draper exudes masculinity and raw sexual magnetism (love you, Jon Hamm), but at the end of the day, would you consider him the ideal man? Cheating on his wives, deeply insecure, drinking his problems away, and with literally no sense of self? If the answer is no, consider his upbringing. His father was a cheat and a liar who beat the hell out of him. That pretty much explains everything. Don Draper and all his co-workers with very similar issues reigned supreme in the pre-feminist era, so clearly we cannot blame women’s success for these problems. Before feminism, even if a male didn’t have a strong, supportive man to guide him, he was still gifted a higher place in society simply due to his gender. Nowadays, we are moving further towards a meritocracy (no matter what critics say, this meritocracy still does not fully exist as of yet).
Narrow-minded people like Ann Coulter will blame single mothers for this problem. I understand what she’s getting at as far as the consequences of children born to unwed, teenage mothers for which both genders are equally responsible. (Ann also doesn’t believe in abortion, because she is a horrible person who wants you to suffer no matter how much you try to rise above your previous mistakes, just to further her own warped political ideology.) But more often than not, it’s the men who walk away, and Ann is blaming the mothers who are there.
All over the world, there are so many little boys like this one. Little boys who have so much anger and rage, who subconsciously crave structure and guidance, and act out never knowing it is because they desperately need attention and are seeking the approval they will never have. Remember this episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air? This scenario is way too common.
I know many people will equate this argument with a reason for not allowing gays to adopt children. Stop it. Even though this post is generally hetero-normative, I recognize the modern world we live in. Gays who are in a committed relationship don’t adopt children accidentally, and are fully committed to each other and their family. People who are fully committed to their family also usually have a vast support network of family and friends allowing the child to have positive role models of both sexes and all genders. It’s the reason why my experience losing my father was different than this little boy growing up without one. My brother is one of the most honorable men I know because of the solid foundation my father laid down for him and the influence he had growing up from uncles, teachers, coaches, etc. (My mom and I probably played a big role in that, too. Just sayin’.) Little boys from broken families do not often have that benefit.
Every little boy deserves to grow up with a father or male role model who teaches him how to be a man. When I say “man”, I don’t mean the type of creature who continuously needs to pump iron, constantly asserts his dominance, and hides behind his physicality. I’m talking about the type of person who values character above any physical ability. The type of person who will respect the mother of his children, even if they’re not together anymore, and will remain loyal to the woman he’s with. The type of person who knows it’s okay to feel emotions, even if he’s not always comfortable sharing them publicly. The type of person who knows that a better world for women does not equate to a lesser world for men. Because, ladies, if we want a better future for our daughters, it depends on the type of present we give our sons.
Gentlemen, there are so many of you out there who fit those descriptions. Thank you. Please pass this attitude on to your boys, and continue reaching out to the boys who were born into less fortunate circumstances.
I love these. I want them for my house someday.
"We are all, everyone in this room, so fortunate."
And don’t ever forget it, Hollywood. <3
Well, another year, another Oscars ceremony come and gone. The awards have been distributed, the acceptance speeches have been delivered, and I think by now it’s even been enough time for the Vanity Fair Party-induced hangovers to wear off. The reviews were released shortly after the credits rolled, predictably contradicting one another, claiming the 86th Academy Awards were really great or really sucked.
I must say, I am significantly less anxious after this year’s ceremony than I was last year, when everyone was freaking the f@#% out over Seth MacFarlane’s turn as host. Let’s just say I thought those were overreactions (re: here), and the people having a fit about last were most likely the same people whining about being bored this year. Still, after every Awards Season ceremony (Awards Season meaning the couple of months in the beginning of the year where most of the major awards are distributed, because technically, Awards Season in Hollywood is every damn day) I’m left with a weird feeling in the days that follow. It’s that same collective feeling we all relish in together over social media, that is some bizarre combination of sincere admiration, sheer envy, true inspiration, and a bit of contempt for the exorbitance of the whole affair.
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted a career in the arts. For almost as long, I have had an overwhelming sense of guilt about this. I don’t like when Hollywood’s players convince themselves that what they do is so much more vital and important for the advancement of society than the work of anyone else. I like it even less when the rest of Western society buys into that idea. Yet nevertheless, I find myself aspiring to be a part of that Hollywood elite. I wish I had a natural inclination to a more noble, less cut-throat career, but as of now, I’m too young and naive to relinquish those dreams just yet.
I’m certainly not denying the significance of the arts, for they are a very powerful, very essential force in any progressive society. It’s just the disproportionate amount of wealth, glamour, and attention that our culture gives to the industry’s A-listers that makes me so uneasy. The key word there is A-listers, by the way. The majority of those working in the entertainment industry rank fairly low in the Hollywood hierarchy. I love movies. I love TV. Yet I don’t think we have to put the people who find success with them on a pedestal so much higher than the average, hard-working human being. It’s nice to attach a certain amount of glamour to great works, but I feel we all take it all a step too far.
I’ll admit it; I have been completely guilty of fangirling in the past. I never wrote any fan-fiction on the internet, but I certainly dreamed up enough scenarios in my adolescent mind to last a lifetime. For many, a lot of this is just born of youthful angst that fades away in good time, and obviously a lot of it is done in good fun. But there are many of us out there whose celebrity admirations take on a life of their own. We become more invested in their lives and well-being than we do in our own, and it stops being a collective joke we’re all in on and it becomes unhealthy.
Have you ever been fortunate enough to meet one of your favorite celebrities? I have. Several of them, actually. And while I feel very lucky and have some pretty cool stories to tell, I find meeting them usually puts me on an emotional roller coaster. At first it’s just utter joy. Most of the celebs I’ve met (or at least the ones I cared about meeting) have all been very nice to my face, so I’ve never had to deal with the soul-crushing disappointment of finding out in real-time that your hero is an asshole. (This happens way more than you think. There’s a damn good reason people caution you against meeting your heroes.) Yet after you’ve exchanged a few words, maybe even gotten a photo or two, the celebrity leaves. A person whom you feel you know so well, whom you know so much about, only sees you as a passing instant among a sea of admirers. A part of your world revolves around them, but you do not exist as an individual in theirs.
This let-down can be pretty intense. The first time I experienced it, at the age of 18, it was a bit of a wake-up call. I was confronted with the reality that all the imagined interactions I had ever dreamed up in my adolescence were, in fact, imaginary, and I would likely never be friends with said-celebrity. This eventually led to a whole “slippery slope” line of thinking in which I terrified myself considering the notion that none of my dreams would ever come true and I would never be as good as the people I admired and everything was hopeless. I literally went home and cried myself to sleep.
Social media somehow makes the whole thing simultaneously better and worse. While we can interact with our favorite celebrities in a way that humanizes them for us like never before, it also feeds into our delusions. One of my big pet peeves is watching celebrity friends have a full on conversation over Twitter that could otherwise be held in private, or at the very least, via text. It feels like high school when all the popular kids purposely speak loudly about their weekend plans knowing full well most of those listening won’t be invited. Watching the whole world read way too much into their words and trying to decipher all of the inside jokes and hidden meanings drives me crazy, let alone when I myself get sucked into doing so. There’s self-promotion, and then there’s self-indulgence.
That same celebrity whom meeting made me so happy yet so sad actually followed me on Twitter for a little over a year. I’m not sure why, although I have my theories, and I was too timid to take advantage of the blessing I’d decidedly been given by just messaging them. In retrospect, I think I was subconsciously wary of communicating with them directly… I didn’t want to creep them out and ruin it… or worse, find out they were a creep and ruin the idea I had of them for myself. A part of me already thought it was weird they had followed someone as random as me in the first place, although I was very flattered. When the person unfollowed me (which oddly enough, I’m pretty sure was due to one of my tweets indirectly referencing Seth MacFarlane’s Oscar performance), more tears and self-loathing ensued. While I initially blamed myself, my brother immediately chimed in. His take on it was that since this person had a high status, their decision to follow me should not have been done lightly. Since it was nothing out of their day to keep following me, deciding to unfollow me was kind of “a dick-move.” He had a valid point. With great power comes great responsibility. The same goes for verified accounts. I can only imagine how real shit must get when you have a similar experience with a celebrity not online, but in the flesh - one of the many reasons the dating scene in LA scares me to death. Overall, the whole thing is still very weird to me when I think about it, but it’s a very first world problem to have, so I don’t dwell on it or feel sorry for myself. My brother is still offended on my behalf, which not only do I find endearing, but exemplifies a much healthier attitude towards celebrities that I wish I came to naturally.
I don’t blame the fans for all this hysteria, though. I blame our society and our culture. Tabloids and websites bombard us with juicy gossip everywhere we go. Programs like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight like to give the “inside scoop” about a celebrity’s personal life and make it seem like we know them, often making details sound much more glamorous than they’ll ever be. We ultimately feel that because we know everything about them, we actually know them. But the truth is, we don’t. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to care about the lives of people you admire, whether you know them personally or not. But when we don’t personally know someone, as is usually the case with celebrities, it’s important to keep things in perspective. As I’m sure I’ve said in several blog posts before, once you really know someone, it’s hard to idolize or despise them. There are very few people in this world who idolize people they actually know the way we idolize celebrities. If we really knew celebrities the way we think we do, we would have a much more realistic perception of them. They have just as many flaws and attributes as the people we encounter in our everyday lives. They make mistakes. They have their own trying endeavors. They have their demons to overcome.
Some celebrities are also more comfortable with their status as a public figure than others. Having been lucky enough to work with or alongside a few notable public figures, I find I do my job much better the less I look up to them. I’ve worked for some of my heroes before, and it did not bode well for me in the long run. I was way too distracted to focus on what I was actually supposed to be doing and was more concerned with becoming a friend than a co-worker. However, the celebrity I currently work for is in a totally different genre than where my interests lie, so it never gets in my way. If he’s nice to me, I don’t let it go to my head. If he cops an attitude with me, I don’t take it as a personal attack on my character. I’d still like to be working with those I admire again someday, but I’ve certainly learned from my mistakes and I’ll approach it very differently the next time around. I also realize that while the people I’m working for now aren’t in my ideal field, I am lucky to be in such a situation that others would kill for and I try not to take it for granted.
Overall, I think my experiences have given me a good frame of mind for how us lesser mortals can best manage our emotions if we do come into contact with esteemed individuals. My advice to those living in New York or LA, where a celebrity sighting is much more common, is to be very selective about the celebrities you approach. If you recognize someone famous on the street, but you wouldn’t generally classify yourself as a fan, just let them go. Maybe subtly snap a pic with your camera phone, if you can do it in a way that doesn’t feel like a total violation of privacy. You don’t have to post said-pic all over the internet, either; just show your friends in person. There’s no need to introduce yourself or do the, “Hey, you’re so-and-so!” routine if you have nothing genuine or sincere to say to them. Or, say you see someone who’s known for only one role, a la Gary Coleman, if he were still with us. There would be no need to stop him to tell him you loved him in Diff’rent Strokes if you really have nothing else to say to him. Unless Diff’rent Strokes changed your life, there would’ve been no need to approach poor Gary, especially to make him say that one line… (He was a person, not a trained dog. Come on, guys. Show some respect.)
If it’s someone who you truly admire or whose work you genuinely love, then feel free to approach, but keep your cool. Also, know how to analyze the situation. If a person is having dinner with their family, it might not be the best idea to interrupt. If you absolutely have to - because I know if it were someone like Tina Fey, I would have to - subtly lean in and say, “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but I just had to take the opportunity to tell you how much I admire you and love your work.” Do not spaz out. “Oh my God, I freaking LOVE you!” will most likely not be a welcome reaction outside of a concert, sports venue, or red carpet. For many people, myself included, this is one of the hardest urges to resist.
Also, don’t be shocked if you don’t get the welcome reaction of which you’ve always dreamed. Like I said, people being disappointed with their heroes is a thing for legitimate reasons. Some
celebrities people are just more genuine than others. After you approach, use your own judgment regarding their reaction. Like I said, every celeb feels differently about their fame, so every celeb will respond to you differently. If a simple thank you is all you get, smile and walk away. If they start a conversation with you, go ahead and chat, but maintain your cool. Even if they are nice, try not to draw attention to them if you’re in a public space. They don’t want the whole room approaching. And only if they are exceptionally friendly should you ask for an autograph or picture.
It should be noted that these rules are a little more lax for tourists who are less likely to see celebrities in their day-to-day. Also, it is my personal belief that no celebrity should deny a child an autograph or photo. Seriously, Kobe. You make millions of dollars; he’s just a kid. Your family should understand.
My theory is that if everyone followed this formula, the public would conceptualize fame in a healthier way, and celebrities would feel more comfortable with the public. This is assuming TMZ and the E! Network all tone it down a notch, but the change has to start somewhere. The paparazzi thrives because we buy into it. We are living in a vicious cycle where we fuel each other’s madness.
It’s important to remember that motion pictures, like everything else made by man, are a tool. They are neither inherently good nor inherently evil. It all depends on what we do with them. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have public figures who we admire, even if it’s only our personal idea of them we are vilifying. These celebrities and their art are indeed a part of us, but we have to draw the line somewhere. It’s good to have people who inspire us in our everyday lives, we just can’t let the spectacle we see around their lives lead us to believe ours are mundane or devoid of meaning. We can’t let our lives revolve around theirs.
Because let’s face it; award shows should be fun to watch. It’s fun to feel like you’re a part of something taking place on a bigger scale when you watch the Oscars together with the rest of the Western world. It’s fun to see Meryl Streep dancing with Pharrell and to retweet Ellen’s selfies - even if you’re momentarily jealous that you’re not “cool” enough to be in that selfie. Who among us with a soul was not moved by Lupita Nyong’o? Anyone who’s listened to Let It Go and seen the joy it’s brought so many children can be happy Robert Lopez now has a well-deserved EGOT. Yes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s fans need to give him some space, but how can you not smile at witnessing him photobombing U2? For all our collective, self-righteous snark, I believe the Oscars should be one of the few times of the year when we genuinely do wish we were friends with all our favorite celebrities. Then maybe during the rest of the year, our society can attain a much more grounded, healthier perspective.
Unless, of course, you want a career in show business. Then you’re pretty much screwed.
12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture at the 86th Academy Awards