I watched the Golden Globes for a time last night. I was interested to see if Heath Ledger would win a posthumous award for his portrayal of ‘The Joker’, and he did, but what I found most interesting was Stephen Spielberg’s brief speech after being presented with the Cecil B. Demille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Stephen Spielberg speak before. It was interesting to me- he has the polish which comes from being a highly respected power player in Hollywood, but there is still an awkwardness to his mode of speech. He doesn’t really have stage presence, which kind of explains why he is always behind the camera and not in front of it.
But here, this man can capture that quality, can blend it; can discern great moments and great chemistry and bring those things to life for thousands of other people better than almost anyone else in Hollywood.
I really enjoyed hearing him talk about the first movie he went to as a child, the experience of going into the theater when it was light, and coming out when it was dark. He said it was like the power of the film brought the night down.
I had that same experience when I was little, and the film was Speilberg’s wonderful adventure, E.T.
I love E.t. with an enduring love. Many movies I enjoyed as a kid Ive gone back to watch as an adult, and they’ve lost their magic. But seeing E.t. again in my early twenties was a different experience. I recognized the *reality* of the world Elliott lived in. The movie was even better with my more analytical, grown-up mind. I became just as immersed in it, and that’s much more rare as an adult.
Stephen Spielberg doesn’t have stage presence, but he is a talented word-smith. He talked about the gift of mentorship, and the sense of familiarity he was experiencing right then, with so many faces in the crowd he’d worked with closely. And though Tom Cruise is usually a brunt of jokes now since his breakdown and the scientology stuff, I had to give him props: He and Drew Barrymore and Clint Eastwood and a few others in the crowd really listened and responded to Spielberg’s words, much the way I was listening and responding here at home.
Such genuine, generous attention was rare in that sea of polished-for-the-camera faces.
It seemed to me the gloss was a little faded… the air of festivity a little forced at many of those glamorous tables. You see the posing and the pathos, and I kind of got the feeling from my limited observations that even Hollywood feels a little tired with Hollywood by mid-January.
Notable exceptions to that feeling were the 30 Rock crowd (Tina Fey, et al) and Kate Winslet whose impossibly large, English-bred smile was, I believe, completely genuine as she took home two Golden Globes.
I would think it would be a little horrifying to find yourself a celebrity. Like parenthood, the real shock is surely the unrelenting nature of public focus. We discover as parents that even if it’s overwhelming, or we’re having problems, there is no taking Jr. back for a bit; no ~not~ being a parent for a little while, once you already are one. And it isn’t a nine-to-fiver, it’s an around the clock 24 hour occupation from which you can only take brief respites, but only from the physical work , not the emotional engagement and endless worry of parenthood.
So too must fame arrive with some surprise even to the most hungry director or performer. There is no mistake, no personal faltering to be done in private. Everything is public interest, and everything you do or do not do is open to judgement from the masses. You can hole up for a time, or avoid public outings, but even this behavior will be watched and remarked upon.
How very exhausting.
Of course… in both scenarios, there are compensations. But I think it would be very challenging to feel and reflect on things outside myself if I were the object of so much scrutiny. That scenario burns good energy- it’s difficult to develop outside yourself when the self is always under a magnifying glass. I think you’d hafta have awfully good, awfully honest friends to retain some vestige of your core identity.
Those figures on t.v., reflected last night in the glory light of recognition and immortality, today submit to the parsing of gossip collumns, best and worst dressed lists, and endless, excruciating comparisons.
There’s certainly a sort of relief to living outside that golden circle, no?