Let me tell you about an unwritten code in Los Angeles. Tourists may gawk and worship at the altar of celebrity. They can pore over a Map to Homes of the Stars as if it offered a pathway to the Holy Grail. Or take double decker bus tours with cameras strung around their necks. The eccentric among them may even traipse over to see a medical building, just based on a rumor that Joan Rivers got her sixth plastic surgery there. And so on.
But respectable area residents must adopt one of two pretensions in this regard. The Connected or the Disaffected.
The Connected pretension takes on many forms which include: i) legitimate (“I worked with Ben Affleck on that project, he’s a nice guy”); ii) gossipy (“I slept with Hugh Jackman, so I know that he’s gay”); iii) needy (“Zoey Daschenelle goes to my Coffee Bean (and doesn’t that make me cool?)); iv) street credible (“Sean Penn was doing coke at my apartment”); and, finally, v) striving (“I worked with Ben Affleck on that project, he’s a nice guy.”)
Astute readers will notice, as demonstrated above, that the striving form takes on the same language as the legitimate. It’s just that the striver has failed to mention that their definition of the word “work” includes activities as benign as standing in the same room. Using their standard I am happy to inform you that Barack Obama nearly nominated me as Ambassador to the Court of St. James after I stood in the same picture with him in 2008. My family remains deeply disappointed.
The Disaffected pretension takes another tack on celebrity culture and those who practice it imagine themselves above it all. If Matt Damon began spontaneously shining the boots of a hipster in Silverlake, only annoyance would follow. The Disaffected would make no mention on their social networks of being seated next to Tina Fey on a flight from New York to LAX. Nor would they gape at Christina Applegate working out at their gym.
Of the wealthy, celebrities and the famous, Grandpa Huser always said “they put their pants on one leg at a time just like you.” Which, as a child, caused me to imagine that the Rockefellers surely owned some contraption that permitted them to jump into both pant legs at the same time. As an adult, it has left me with an egalitarian, Midwestern sensibility about these things.
As a result I feel more at home in the Disaffected camp. Except for occasionally taking an out of town guest to lunch at The Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, I leave the Star Gazing to the tourists and the Connected.
So I feel a little out of place beginning this week’s blog entry with my Sunday trip to the Emmys as the guest of Lisa Koes. Supposedly the average American watches 34 hours of television a week so it seems like a great injustice that I ended up at the Emmys. I have not owned a television since 2003. Shouldn’t my seat have gone to someone more deserving, like a retiree in Kansas logging a hundred viewing hours per week?
I wish I could say that I remained disaffected throughout the event, but as they say there’s no business like show business. Walking into the Nokia Theatre on the red carpet with all the brou ha ha and celebs did feel a little intoxicating. I could do this again, I thought. But don’t think I lost my Midwestern values – I still would have preferred to be an audience member on the show where Oprah gave everyone a new car.
A few observations from inside the theatre and during the show. First, the great melting pot of the modern Los Angeles was not represented in this room. Second, I found the acceptance speeches much more enjoyable in the theatre. On reflection I realize it’s because the recipients lavishly pour gratitude and praise on the people inside of the theatre. Even their gaze drifts away from the camera towards the in person audience. Agents, executives and others striving for a one-day Q Score (and family members) get recognition. The millions and millions at home may receive a crumb when “the fans” are thanked. Third, segments shown from past Emmys to the live audience during commercial breaks reminded me that celebrity is fleeting. If your dream is to stand on that stage, go for it. Most of the people standing there this past Sunday will be has-beens in the not so distant future.
Finally, like you I was very disappointed that not one award recipient acknowledged, mentioned or thanked Hustlers in Paradise, but there’s always next year . . .
Over the years I have represented Six Point Harness on various small matters and it’s been a pleasure to watch them grow. A year ago, the studio took part in a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $300,000 from friends and fans to launch Dick Figures: The Movie. On September 17th the film became available for purchase with an online only distribution strategy. It’s available on Mondo, Google Play and ITunes and will be distributed free of charge on YouTube in installments.
This past Tuesday, I downloaded it from ITunes. The film uses the archetype of the heroes on a journey and ostensibly follows main characters Red and Blue on a quest to find a magic sword. The journey occurs on earth with stops in Japan and France, but it’s an earth that includes talking raccoons and ninjas. One part, for example, pays homage to Indiana Jones with a scene in an ancient temple followed by a chase and fight.
The characters develop and grow on the journey and I laughed out loud several times. If you are not accustomed to the South Park oeuvre of animation, be warned there’s a substantial amount of toilet humor but it succeeds beyond the toilet humor as well. There’s slapstick crashes and clever details throughout (like naming a ship the U.S.S. No Regrets). Hollywood takes a few hits (simply doing a cartwheel helps the characters escape from trouble) and it pokes fun at several tropes in the chase genre. The evil character openly hints his actions are not rational, the hero calls for the beginning of an epic montage. The timing, so key with humor, hits the nail on the head again and again.
I don’t want to give away more. I’m proud to call these Hustlers my friends and I urge you to download and watch the film. When the Euro tourists catch onto this, you’ll want to say that you made it there first.
Los Angeles, California