Another Un-Newsletter, this time from January 2005.
Hollywood or Bust
One of my real passions in life is movies. For me there is something really magical about being transported away for an hour and a half and to have a story unfold before my eyes. One of my other passions, probably for no more than nine months when I was about eleven or twelve was fantasy role playing (Dungeons and Dragons!). Yes, I confess to being one of the weird kids for a brief time, who sat on the floor near the lockers, rolling unusual shaped dice and talking in a strange coded language about hit points or swords of slaying (+2 vs the undead). I’m sure all schools in the ’80s had a group of boys like that, it was endemic, and I was one of them. At least until a tentative and shy interest in girls started to stir in me. I very quickly learnt that trying to talk about that sort of thing with them is a sure way to get a very condescending look, closely followed by huddled whispers with their friends and conspiratorial sniggering as they walked off to the chemistry labs, the odd disembodied phrase like ‘Simon le Bon’, ‘Spandau Ballet’ or ‘A-Ha!’ filtering back down the corridor.
While I’ve all but lost that pubescent obsessive interest in convoluted and over-complicated statistics, a small part of me is still that nerdy kid who loves movies like the recent re-telling of the Lord of the Rings saga. Consequently, for Christmas I was given a book by Sean Astin, who played one of the Hobbits (Sam). It was about his experiences and memories of firstly making the movies and secondly the after effect and euphoria that impacted his life at the box office success.
And it made interesting reading. Firstly, by the sheer scale of the task that they’d all under taken and secondly the level of commitment, dedication and professionalism of everyone involved. Then, they finished filming, left New Zealand and got back to Hollywood, and the tone of the book changed. He began describing the superficial and phoney rounds of publicity and Oscar nomination lobbying. I started to feel my toes curling at the artificiality and ‘loviness’ of it all and thoughts like ‘God, its not the real world’ and disembodied words like ‘shallow’ and ‘content-free’ came to mind. But I stopped myself, reminding myself that actually, yes, it is the real world, just very remote from the one I, and most of us live in. This led to other thoughts along the lines of just how remote to us is it really? And caught myself realising actually not as remote as we’d like to pretend it is. It made me feel a little uneasy. At times, while we don’t like to admit it, we can be just as superficial, phoney and shallow as any Hollywood star. The times when we justify things to ourselves, clinging to the stories we make up about why things are the way they are, rather than the way we think they should be. Keep an eye out for yourself when you do it….