People are People

In his book Hollywood the Dream Factory: An Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-makers, Hortense Powdebritney-spears-ok-magazine-cover-7-25-07rmaker examines the relationship between the actors who make up Hollywood and the overarching idea of Hollywood itself. He describes this relationship as tumultuous to say the least in stating, “In Hollywood, actors are not regarded as ordinary people, either. But instead of being admired, they are looked down upon as a kind of subhuman…they are often described as children who do not know what is good for them, immature, irresponsible, completely self-centered, egotistical, exhibitionist, nitwits, and utterly stupid” (254). This harsh description depicts the way in which as Powdermaker puts it, “the actor is regarded by the studio as a valuable synthetic product of make-up department, cameraman, publicity agent, director, producer and front-office. Rarely is he given credit for having any ability, and the front-office executive, who thinks of himself as the creative source of everything from stars and scripts to the final movie, sincerely believes that it is he who created the star” (254). Actors are used, abused and reused time and time again but the exploitation doesn’t stop in Hollywood. Because actors often double as celebrities their life is very much in the public eye. “Ordinary people” such as myself are constantly bombarded with gossip, news and updates on the latest scandals and break-ups. Because their public status does not award themjennifer-lawrence-2-768 the privilege of a private life many people feel a strong sense of entitlement to these stars. Fans can follow their favorite celebrities on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Keek, etc. and watch countless interviews with them all the while feeling like they truly know this person despite the fact that they’ve never actually interacted with them in real life (IRL, if you will). It’s easy for fans to idolize and romanticize these celebrities when they’re putting their best foot forward, which is why it comes as such a shock when they make a mistake. The second someone like Jennifer Lawrence had risqué photos taken from her own phone and leaked to the masses the tabloids jumped on it and questioned all that she stood for. She was crucified by the media for making a human error even though she is, in fact, human. Celebrities are continuously being held to an unrealistically high set of standards and expectations. We assign them the responsibilities of a role model and expect them to act as such. I find this to be incredibly presumptuous of us as a society but at the same time one could argue that in choosing to enter into the public eye these celebrities knew ahead of time what they were getting themselves into. I don’t believe that justifies our insatiable need to pry but I do understand the basis for that argument. What I’m trying to say is that we often forget that actors and actresses are people just like we are. As Powdermaker so aptly named a chapter in his book, “Actors are People”, and its time we start remembering that.

Powdermaker, Hortense. Hollywood, the Dream Factory; an Anthropologist Looks at the Movie-makers. Boston: Little, Brown, 1950. Print.

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