Acting is not an art; it is a skill. It is not difficult. I know because I was an actor from age 7 through college in Michigan and in NYC as a professional from 21 until 35 when I gave up that aspect of my career to write full time. I made that decision because I needed to be a creative source
, not under the direction of anyone, and writing gave me that freedom. Nevertheless, I’ve done plenty of stage, TV, and film both in NYC and Madrid (principle actress in TV commercials). I belonged to Screen Actors Guild-American American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Actors’ Equity labor unions; like it or not you don’t work if you don’t join.
So from personal experience here’s the real deal: You don’t have to be smart (let alone intelligent), beautiful, educated, or sophisticated to be an actor. Someone writes a scripted story; this is true art because the writer is a creative source in a valid artistic medium (drama) and brings ideas into physical manifestation (the scripted story to be filmed). Moviemaking is a fantastically cooperative effort — just watch the credits roll — and the results can be powerful as an art form, but the only artist involved is the writer. The rest are facilitators; even in originating music, as beautiful as it often is, the composer must follow the emotional arc of the action. Actors memorize their lines. In theater, they must learn lines of a whole play because they perform it in its entirety. In film, they only have to learn lines for the next scene being shot. Then they rehearse according to a director’s wishes — stand here, walk there, cry now, etc. — until they have their “part” down and can perform a character with believability. That’s it.
Some actors are serious in plying their skills while others play at play-acting. Some become famous, others work steadily without celebrity, and others come and go. It is famous actors who are the subject here. Many of them are good at their craft, but because their name-face recognition affords them high public awareness they take opportunities to speak out on various subjects not related to their profession as if their opinions are important.
Their opinions, however, are no more important than yours or mine. In fact, an opinion regarding environmentalism or foreign policy from a car mechanic would be more important than one from an actor because he deals with reality every day; if he doesn’t fix an automobile, it doesn’t run properly and that is a demonstrable and undeniable fact. Actors deal in fantasy. Surrounded by sycophants who bask in whatever left-over glow might emanate from them and adored by fans for simply being famous, honest judgment of them as a person is scarce. Most live in a disconnected-from-reality bubble because their life’s work is focused on “let’s pretend” activities. They become massively wealthy and usually forget from whence they came, which further disconnects them from “normal” real-world working folks and down-to-earth issues that concern others. They, of course, have a right to their opinions like all the rest of us. They also have a right to broadcast those opinions far and wide. But they must not be taken as authoritative. If their views are valid, one can agree. If their views are not valid, they need to be ignored. In either case, they are personal views not related to their profession. Many of these wannabe pundits are so self-absorbed they think any sane person will care when they threaten to leave the country if so-and-so wins an election.
In addition, too many of them have so little sense of time and place that it’s become downright annoying, embarrassing, or laughable. How many times have we heard tirades at award ceremonies? Like sports figures, awards are important to actors because they encourage future work and higher pay, but everyone knows that Hollywood film politics influence who gets those trophies, so why should we take the recipients seriously when they get on their global politics soap box?
At the recent Golden Globe Award ceremony, host Ricky Gervais had the right sarcastic tone for his self-aggrandizing audience, and his closing remark was. . . well, right on the mark. Just skip to 6.58 minutes to hear.
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” won the most awards: Best actor, Best Screen Play, and Best Musical or Comedy at the same ceremony. Comedy? Comedy is supposed to be clever! Just watch a bunch of actors having fun “acting up” like twelve-year-olds and directed into utter madness by one who is supposed to be an icon of directing skills.
Award winning Joaquin Phoenix gave the f-word as much employment as possible at the ceremony and then took his cause to another venue hosted by Hanoi Jane, who’s never stopped hating America.
Now the Academy Awards are coming up February 9. So the “diversity” issue is already hammering at the door of this ceremony because more of whatever-the-denied-group-is-now did not get more nominations. Diversity has nothing to do with moviemaking skills, of course, but this politically correct complaint now comes up routinely.
Who will sit through another evening of professional back patting or political back knifing speeches by the great pretenders of our day? Not this former actor. Acting is not an impressive profession to begin with, and there are accomplished actors today presenting fine performances, proper award acceptances, and rational off-screen behavior. Yet, pathetically, sound-and-fury anger now dominates the film industry, so why bother to watch more spewing speeches unrelated to an award but using the occasion to pontificate about this or that personal gripe or cause at the next award event?
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Soul Celebrations and Spiritual Snacks." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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