The Golden Circle


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?


8 thoughts on “The Golden Circle

  1. We had such fond memories of ET when it first came out, so we rented it not long ago. I have to tell you, that movie does not hold up. The thing that stood out was how whiny those kids were.

  2. I have to agree with mad. ET just didn’t hold up for me. I guess I just did not feel as connected to the characters as I did in movies like the Goonies, The Lost Boys, or even Indiana Jones.

  3. E.T. is a movie I refuse to see as an adult, because I don’t want my childhood memory of it to be disrupted.

    Spielberg is an interesting character, to me … someone who seems to unashamedly run the gamut from pandering crap to making films with incredibly deep feeling.

    I agree that celebrity would make a meaningful life difficult, if not impossible. I think the folks outside the center spotlight manage it, but for the people who make a living being famous … I actually feel a little sorry for them.

  4. I was an adult when E.T. first came out so I don’t know how kids see it, other than how my own kids saw it. My son loved it. He still does and he’s 26 but he also is a fan of anything and everything Spielberg so I don’t know if he’d still love it if it had been done by anyone else. I loved it when I saw it and I still love it now. In fact, that’s one of the movies I recently replaced on DVD after giving away the VHS copy when I got rid of the VHS player.

    I’m quite a Spielberg fan, too. Like David mentioned, he’s one that will make a film, not because it’s going to make a ton of money, but because he believes in it. I think that’s to be admired in someone as powerful as Spielberg.

  5. How many of those rubber-chicken awards dinners can anyone endure before running screaming into the night. I’ve heard stories os Spielberg’s natural kindness and consideration when dealing with the press and public, and my hat goes off to anyone who could sit still for the awards after about the fiftieth such expression of love from one’s peers, publicists and promoters. I actually felt a little sorry for the guy.

  6. Your post is quite interesting. I definitely agree with you about E.T. I loved it and I still do. I love watching over again and I know my kids do too. :)

    Spielberg–my hat off to him and his great talent. I missed the awards and would have loved to hear him speak, but, I can say that your description was a good one. Thanks.

    A celebrity’s life must be very difficult and it must take a very grounded person to deal with all the demands they have to face. Just take a look at one example of a person that was not prepared to face what celebrity demanded of him. Michael Jackson… :(

  7. I loved ET as a child and daren’t watch it again because I feel the magic would be lost, so interesting to read what you said about it.

    I totally agree with what you said about fame, I’m as famous as i want to be already, why else choose poetry and not acting!

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