Hollywood: 10,000 Exhibitionists, and No One Watching

First of all, if you left me a “Happy 50th Birthday!” message, I want to sincerely thank you. If you didn’t leave me such a message, I want to sincerly ask you what your problem is. How often does someone turn 50?

Luckily for you, part of being so old you begin forgetting to chew before you swallow is that you learn the graceful, benevolent art of living and letting live. So I’m going to let you live. But don’t let it happen again. And you know who you are, too. And you know that I know who you are. And I know that you know that I know that you know that I know who’s on first?

Um. So don’t fail to let that be a lesson to you.

Hollywood! We were there for my Big Fat 50th Birthday, staying in the so-chic-it’s-basically-functionless Roosevelt Hotel, which is right across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, which is famous throughout the world for being the place exploited Chinese of 1920’s Los Angeles figured out how to make fun of big-time Hollywood stars by somehow convincing them it was cool to jam their hands and feet into wet cement.

Ahh, Hollywood. Is anyone there not addled by the conviction that they’re only one Power Lunch away from starring in a TV show based upon how cool they look? It’s an entire culture convulsing on the conviction that acting like a star and being a star are the same thing.

Hollywood is 10,000 media-addled exhibitionists struggling to keep themselves deluded that somehow, somewhere, they’re on camera. Everyone’s blinded by the spotlight they’re crazed to get in. Everyone’s got a project in development, a script they’re reading, a friend or a relative who’s a producer who’s putting together a package with these guys who used to be with The WB.

Anyway. If you’ve ever been to Hollywood, you know. If not, then … then next time you’re alone, put your favorite song on the stereo, turn off all the lights, place a flashlight so it shines in your face, and sing that song like you’re on stage in front of an auditorium packed with screaming fans delirious to be so near you. If anytime during the course of performing that song you slip into that deliriously heady moment when you think you really are the focus of all the world’s most rabid adulation and love, stop. Now imagine an entire culture  based on the idea that it’s wrong to ever let that feeling fade.

And there’s Hollywood!

Now that I’ve done the Grumpy Rant, do let me say that I madly love (and in fact was raised around) theater. I’ve got good friends knee-deep in Hollywood show business. I think I love actors and the whole Theater Universe more than I do any other … Group o’ Humans doing stuff.

I myself am about halfway through a play I’m writing. I’m hoping to get said play produced in Los Angeles.

Proving, yet again, that more often than not God arranges it so that, one way or another, we end up wanting, loving and needing at least some aspect of the very thing about which we are convinced we feel the most disdain. 

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  • >Proving, yet again, that more often than not God arranges it so >that, one way or another, we end up wanting, loving and needing at >least some aspect of the very thing about which we are convinced >we feel the most disdain.

    Perhaps that explains why I keep feeling compelled to post to a Christian blog…

  • John ~ Happy Post-BD! So you know who I am, and that I'm not on first. Never made it out of the dugout, akschully. I'm simply paying you back for all the folks who should have sent me cards and other appropriate adulation. Got Hollywood in here too, didn't I? Or Bollywood.

    You're working on a play. Me too. Dim the lights!

    We all, always, need to be validated. We just don't know how to "get" it without messing up the local universe. That's the crux of the Cross, I guess.

    May your 51st be the best yet!


  • Leif Sr.

    John – My humble appologies also. HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

    So, how does a half century feel? I've blown passed it already (51). Of course, I'm just happy you know who I am.

    Have your people call my people and we'll do that lunch we've talked about.

  • Brian: What a kind sentiment. Thank you.

    Judith: Thank you! Very nice! (Write and tell me what your play's about, so I can <del datetime="00"> steal</del>appreciate it.)

  • Leif: Thanks for asking how I feel at 50. I can honestly tell you that ever since I turned 50 four days ago I've been extraordinarily wise. Back when I was 49, I didn't know true wisdom from wisdom teeth. Now I'm somewhere between Buddah and Jesus Christ himself. It's amazing what a difference one day can make, isn't it? Isn't it? It is, isn't it?

  • Eh…fifty-schmifty.

    Awww, of course I'm kidding–happy birthday John!

    And your post totally makes sense. It explains why I avoid tabloid-paparazzi-celebrity hype like the plague…and yet still manage to know who's dating whom, and/or broke up, and/or had kids at any given moment.

    What's with all the twins lately, anyway? It's, like, the latest celebrity trend. "You should have twins, everyone's doing it!!" I tend to think there are lots of expensive treatments going on behind the scenes–not that there's anything wrong with that–but I guess only the celebs themselves (and their doctors) know for sure.

    But I digress…

  • Hjordes

    Hollywood Blvd….the Pig n' Whistle.. I love it. I actually sat in… IN… captain Kirk's chair! I sat on Norm's ("Cheers") barstool! I held the same pencil MULDER (X-Files) held, right in his office! I felt so silly I giggled all day. And what about those classy restrooms at the Roosevelt Hotel, huh?

  • mr. demille, i'm ready for my closeup! LOL

    having grown up in southern california (in orange county– please don't call it the "o.c.". thanks LOL) and lived in several states since entering adulthood, usually i'm asked one of two things:

    1. did you meet/were you friends with anyone famous? no. that happened after i left.

    2. is the real "o.c." like the t.v. show? no, it's not. not when i lived there.

    it was a great place to grow up… in the 1970's and 80's when i lived there. now, probably not so much. after my father died, my mother even left!

    oh, and happy belated 50th! i've got 6 more years til i reach that milestone.

  • Laura

    "How often does someone turn 50?"

    I just wanted to let you know that approximately 16,438,356 people have a birthday every day. It can reasonably be assumed, therefore, that at least one person turns 50 every day.

    Now, if you had asked how often you turn 50, that's a whole different story…

  • John,

    Glad you had such a good time in Hollywood.

    Good luck with the play.

    I'm working on one too about God explaining his plan for humans to the angel Michael – no, make that Gabriel. At first I had a riff on penguins in there, but I changed that to armadillos.

    Again, so glad Hollywood was good to you. Once my project goes into development I'll send you a card.


  • To this day, I do not get all the adulation about the stars in Hollywood. The same can be said about sports stars, and I'm a sports nut.

    Why do so many people feel the need to live their lives through the success of others, be it movie/TV stars or sports stars? This is what drives the paparazzi, magazines, and the rest of the industry.

    I simply want my wife to love me and my little baby boy to be proud of his daddy.

  • Loser.

  • Ann

    Your description really only fits wanna be actors/actresses. The dregs who cruise Hollywood boulevard. The rest of us are just working stiff with jobs, like everybody else. Stick a camera and a mike in my face and I flinch like a vampire bat from the light.

    But the gleeful mockery of hollywood is really just a kind of mild envy, as I think you were trying to point out at the end of your post.

    Lets face it. I get paid obscene amounts of money to do what most people would do for free. I am very grateful. And then, when I'm unemployed, I am very bitter.

    Yeah. Those narcississic jerks. You tell 'em John.

  • What do you do, Ann?

  • stushie

    I was fifty-one last week, and you didn't send me a celebration blogpost either…

    Oh, wait, this is the first time I've read this blog and posted here…WHICH IS WHY I MISSED YOUR BIRTHDAY!

  • I love your blog. Especially the way you can move from direct observation and even lament back to joy. You remind us not to take the world too seriously.

    Happy Birthday!

  • i'm glad to hear you report that when you get "old" you "learn the graceful, benevolent art of living and letting live"… i remember when i was a teenager, i wrote a list of things that i swore to never to as an adult… presumably based upon the things which irritated me most about adults. one of the things i wrote down was to "remember that even though more knowledge comes with age, that at least 50% of it is incorrect knowledge!"

    hollywood… big heads?

    vegas… city of sin?

    corruption abounds everywhere, even within this human heart of mine.

    thankfully the Holy Spirit gives us power to be overcomers.

    God bless,


  • Ann

    Hi John, I'm a film editor. I frequently look around my digs, usually in the basement or some other dripping dank location in the unused corner of a studio lot, and think 'ah the glamour'.

    I share this exciting corner of the star studded universe with most grips, stunt men, lighting people, department supervisors, accountants, runners, drivers, security personnel and the flotsam and getsam of studio employees who keep the whole skanky mess rolling. There aren't a whole lot of egotistical people in the bunch, as egotistical people are difficult and difficult people don't remain hired for long.

    Mostly we try to finish our work in time to get home to our families, like everybody else. Occassionally, some wide eyed kid will come in looking for the glamour, but they soon run out when they find out how much work is involved.

    When I'm unemployed, I pretend to be a writer.

  • Happy 50th John, but don't feel too bad about the delay; my sister just got her 50th birthday card, 10 days late (though I did travel interstate to give it to her).

    Quite a fan of theater (the live performance type) myself, though we have nothing even remotely as wild as Hollywood here (thankfully).

  • Bring your play to Philadelphia and I will do you the pleasure of acting in it!

    Of course, you'll make no money. And get no publicity. And it will really help your writing career very little.

    But I'll be fabulous!

  • Hjordes: DO they have classy restrooms at the Roosevelt Hotel? I was going to find out, but then I just decided to stay in the pool.

    Stef: For a long time my parents lived in Sherman Oaks. Which really has nothing to do with O.C. So never mind.

    Laura: I was actually wondering if anyone was going to notice how I shouldn't have said "you." Curse you and your careful reading and bizarre use of statistics!

    Sam: I'll wait to hear from you. And to sue you.

    Paul: Um. I was joking about the "loser." But you knew that.

    Ann: I was wondering if anyone would know that I really was only talking about young wanna-be celebrities. But it's cool that you wrote what you did about what it's REALLY like to actually make a living in the film and TV business. And if this little thing you wrote here is any indication, I can't imagine you ever have trouble convincing anyone you're a writer. That was beautiful.

    Stushie: Thanks for the note! And the fun-to-say screen name!

    Barbara: Thanks for the note! And the fun-to-say real name!

    Oz: Sounds like you've got a story to tell about your sister's card. What was that about?

    Morse: You should do a UTube of you acting! Do you have yourself on film at all?

  • Dan Cartwright

    Is the fascination with Hollywood the modern versin of Baal worship? I'm not taking sides here, just asking.

  • Dan: Um. That'd be a no.

  • I have many VHS recordings of me acting in high school (when I was a bad actor), but no technology to put them on a computer. Sorry!

  • John, Happy (belated) Birthday! Congratulations on 50 years of life. May the Lord bless you in the years to come.

  • Happy belated birthday. I think the trick is to very retire. at least that's what I've heard. for selfish reasons… i want to keep reading this blog.. and books, more books. Hope you had a great one, friend.

  • The word proving in your final paragraph skirts the post hoc ergo propter hoc ( http://blog.askmisspriss.com/?p=32 ), unsettlingly so, in my opinion, and yet your post in general is limpid and lively, as always.

    Keep on keeping on, sir, as Bob Dylan once said, and best of luck with your play. You write very well.