Songs for the Struggling Artist


Playwright in a Novel, Playwright in a Film

This book I’m reading is not the first book to do this, but it is the latest and it is enough of a trend that, when it happened in this book, I may have said, out loud, “Oh no, not this again.”

It’s this thing where novelists and screenwriters put a playwright in their piece. In these works, the playwright always becomes super successful and gets famous and rich and, I have to assume, receives all the accolades the writer dreams of, but in theatre form. My sense is that they do this because they don’t want to write about a writer too close to themselves. If they’re a novelist, the protagonist can’t be a novelist, that’s too close – and a playwright, they imagine, is like a novelist but more social and glamourous. A screenwriter imagines that a playwright is like a screenwriter but artier and nobler.

I’ve read and seen a lot of works with playwrights in them and the plays are ALWAYS a triumph within the narrative. They always end up with a hit. They are always on Broadway or the West End or featured at the National Theatre in London. It is tremendously easy to become a hot famous playwright in a novel or a movie. It seems to be a particularly sexy fantasy for other writers.

But I know a lot of playwrights. I even know a lot of very successful playwrights and I’m quite certain that while their lives are full and interesting, they are never nearly as glamorous as these other forms make them sound. Their paths to success are never simple. There is no overnight success for a playwright. It just doesn’t work like that. And there’s something so wild about the fantasy that it does. It doesn’t work like that for other writers, either, I’d imagine. You don’t just meet the right person at a party and instantly end up on the New York Times bestseller list. You don’t write your first film in a drunken stupor that weeks later is featured on screens across America.

But this story line is so common now, this one of a playwright catapulted to success, that it has started to feel like a trope. The trope within this trope that I often see recurring is the playwright revealing important things about himself and his personality through his work. We see scenes in his life repeated onstage, sometimes word for word. (I’m saying he and his because it is almost always a male playwright who is the subject of this work.) The novel or film includes whole swaths of the playwright’s plays so we can learn more about him. Or maybe so we can understand the Freudian echoes or Jungian archetypes operating beneath. Those “plays” almost always suck and they are almost always enormous hits in the story. Do bad plays become hits in real life? Yes. All the time. I’d even say most of the time when I’m feeling cynical. But these plays are not SUPPOSED to be bad in the book or movie. They’re supposed to be genius. And aside from being bad, they just don’t function well as plays. Like, they’re not theatrical or dramatic. Maybe every writer thinks they can write a play? I don’t know – but nothing makes me want to throw a book across the room like a novelist’s epic “brilliant” play in the middle of the story.

The book that made me think about this is Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. It is beautifully written and artfully constructed except for the theatre stuff. It’s an interesting mix, though, because some of it is spot on, theatrically speaking. She has the atmosphere of the field and the vibes of the location down. She has spent some time in theatres. She probably has some actor friends. But there are these moments where the story moves so dramatically away from the possible. The actor who gets drunk and writes a brilliant play (that is secretly punched up by his wife) and that play becomes an instant sensation and then another and another until they’ve got a country house in Connecticut or somewhere. It’s like this novelist knows what actors are like at a party but not how the economics of playwriting actually work in this era.

I was rolling my eyes at this instant success of this instant playwright (no development necessary for this wunderkind!) and then (slight spoiler) in the second half of the book, we learn that the instant hit was manipulated into position by the wife. She blackmails someone into asking and paying for a production at Playwrights Horizons and when no one comes to that production that she bribed into existence, she calls all their friends. But even this is improbable. Are theatres impervious to being bought? Nope. If someone offered them enough money, I have little doubt that arrangements might be made. But how would a criminal from Philadelphia know which theatre to put pressure on? How would he know who to throw his cash at? I feel like you’d at least need to know a TINY bit about the theatre business before you bought your way into it.

Also – I’ve tried to get all my friends to come out for things in New York City and that this wife could fill up an off–Broadway house on such short notice, with their friends, feels like some magical thinking. I think the author thinks this means the wife character cheated her way into helping her husband succeed – but having the skill to browbeat all your friends to come out for a show one night is probably actually what one needs to succeed. If you can get a couple hundred friends to come out and support you, you’re probably 75% there, as far as a theatre career is concerned.

So this little revelation certainly helps mediate the question raised by the sudden random success of the playwright earlier in the book – but it doesn’t explain how this sudden success turned into a celebrity style career. Even the most famous contemporary playwrights still struggle to have their work produced and very few of them are treated the way the one in this book is. I can’t think of one. (Not a living one, anyway.)

I am starting to find this trope very transparent. Every time I encounter a playwright in a work in another genre, I feel like I understand how they ended up there and why the author chose that particular profession for their protagonist. Maybe I’m hoping that the next person who wants to write a playwright will consider what tropes they’re falling into and either learn a lot more about the theatre world or choose a different profession for their protagonist. I do not blame this author (Lauren Groff) at all. The transposition of one kind of writer to another is very logical but it raised a lot of questions for me.

Is this book the story of this author’s life? I would never assume so – but then, the way she writes the playwright’s life as such a direct reflection of his life makes me think it must be. I actually think playwrights are less inclined than other writers to write autobiographically but you’d never know it from the way they’re depicted in fiction.

It’s like, it must be so nice to be a fictional playwright in a novel or a film! You never have to struggle with producers over your rights. You never have to talk to a theatre’s administrators about where they’re going to get the incentive money to put up your play. You never have to fight with directors over the way the show is going. You never have to cry in the greenroom about how the actors fundamentally misunderstood those lines. You just go to fancy parties, have fun artistic friends and drink nothing but champagne after shows! It’s a dream! Who wouldn’t want to be a playwright?!

Every night in the life of a playwright!

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Should I Quit Acting Because of X?
May 23, 2021, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Acting, advice, art, business, movies, musicals, Quitting, theatre | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Since joining the acting subreddit, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts with a similar theme. They boil down to, “Will X prevent me from having an acting career?” or maybe more accurately, “I’m X or have X or did X. Should I quit acting?” In this equation, let X be a quality or physical attribute or life history.

I have such complicated feelings about these posts, mostly from young actors looking ahead at a possible professional life in acting. Because on one hand, yes. You should absolutely quit acting and do something else if that’s an option for you. Absolutely you should, if you’re looking for conventional success, run in the opposite direction of an actor’s life. No question.

But on the other hand, the reason to quit is not whatever you’re imagining. You shouldn’t quit because of your science degree or your scars or your background. It won’t be THOSE things that are obstacles to having an acting career. The obstacles to an acting career are everything. Everything is the problem. The problem is not whatever flaw you perceive yourself as having (or whatever some asshole teacher might have said to you). The problem is that it is a very hard business that almost everyone struggles in, in one way or another. The obstacles to an acting career are being born to non-celebrities or not having access to a generous trust fund. The obstacles are a lopsided system that values money and connections more than talent. The obstacles are a commercially driven capitalistic theatre scene that is not accountable to the public in any way but the question of whether or not they will buy tickets.

One thing I did not understand as a young actor is what an ongoing hustle working in the theatre would be. I imagined that I would get one acting gig and it would lead to another and that would lead to the next and so on until I ended up on Broadway. And once I was on Broadway, that would be it! I would have made it and I would be on Broadway until I died.

I think the moment I fully understood this wasn’t so was when my friend (and acting colleague) closed her show on Broadway, the one featuring several movie stars, and the next day went back to her catering gig. It’s possible there were a few actors in that show who went straight to another acting gig. There may have even been one or two that were slated for another show on Broadway. But for most of them, they closed the show and then went home to hustle up the next job. Possibly even the movie stars had to do this. (Though they surely had a lot more help from their agents and their next job wasn’t food service.)

Any acting career is a cycle of working and not working and an acting career is full of dumb reasons for not getting a gig. Mostly, you will never know. Sure – you could lose a gig because of your hair. But you could also GET a gig because of your hair. You cannot know. And while casting directors or agents may tell you some opinion about your appearance or your background, it’s not actually the casting director or agent who gives you the job. They are gatekeepers. And they are not always right about what the people inside the gates actually want. They might tell you a person with glasses like yours will never be cast but then you meet the director and the glasses spark their imagination and you get a call back because you were that interesting one with the glasses. So much of casting talk is about making people more average, more like the conventional but in my experience of running auditions, I have much more often cast people because they were fully themselves or quirky in a way that captivated my attention. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Sure, there are those who have no imagination and just cast the person like the last person who played Juliet so they’ll fit in the costume from ten years ago. That’s a thing, sure. But the artists out there, the visionary directors and writers, are looking for something more. After a full day of looking at people who all look the same, you, with your X walk in and maybe you change the view.


On the subreddit, it feels important to be optimistic and supportive of these young people’s dreams and just answer the question they asked. Should they quit because of their appearance? No. Absolutely not. They should quit because it’s a heartbreaking business but not because of whatever their imagined obstacle is. Is it possible that their obstacle, their X, will make it even harder? Very possible. But, I know some people with all the advantages. They are Adonis-looking white dudes who have talent to burn and no obvious obstacle, who gave the business their all for decades and are hustling now just like they were at the start. There is no guarantee. Not even for the children of movie stars, who generally have the most legs up of anyone.

Should you quit if you’re not the child of a movie star? If you’re looking for security, then, yes, you should quit.

But will you? That’s the question. If you’re tenacious and determined, no cold water of reality will stop you – and that is what you really need in this business. Not the “right” hairstyle or the “right” body or the “right” background but just some talent and ability to keep showing up and giving it a go. But still – I will only say these things here. In conversation with these young aspirants, I will only give them all the examples of people who had “X” and did it anyway. This is partly because I feel that whatever X represents, it is always something we need more of in theatre. We need more people with X, whatever it is, because they don’t see that represented onstage or onscreen and think they would not be chosen because of that. That’s a sign that we’re failing in representing the diversity of humanity well. So, if that person – with X – can ride the roller coaster of life in the arts, then they should not quit. They should get in here and make things better. Are there possibly fewer opportunities for them? Yeah. Possibly. But there are few opportunities period. Get on in and ride the roller coaster and don’t let X stop you.

Each generation re-makes the business. Your colleagues now can, and will probably, be your colleagues later. If you all have X and you want to get together and make an X movie or an X play, that’s good work! No one with X will worry about X in the future because you kicked open the X door for yourself and made room for those with X behind you. That’s what I want you to do, instead of quitting.

Someone told these actors they should quit because of those Xs. That someone is very silly.

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

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It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist 

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Snot Acting
January 13, 2021, 12:40 am
Filed under: Acting, art, Creative Process, movies, theatre, TV | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m going to talk about snot today. I’ve been trying to formulate thoughts about this abhorrent coup attempt that just happened but snot is a lot less disgusting so I’m going with snot right now.

Why am I writing about snot? Well, I was reading an article about the best movie performances of 2020 and they were talking about Viola Davis’ work and said, “Davis has never been hampered by vanity, as past scenes of snot-dripping emotion attest.”

I have thoughts. Not about Viola Davis. (Aside from she’s amazing and we’re lucky to have her and she came from the stage so, also, we miss her.) I have thoughts about these kudos for snot acting.

Here’s the thing about snot pouring down an actor’s face when they’re crying. It is NOT a lack of vanity on an actor’s part. It is bait for awards. Because of responses like that article. It is, in fact, a kind of showmanship – an expression of pride in one’s ability to cry real tears and snot real snot. One might call that a sort of skill-based vanity. Or maybe it’s just something encouraged by those watching.

Anyway – the reason I am not impressed by it is that I have seen people cry in real life and have also cried myself, believe it or not, and real people generally do not let snot stream down their faces when they cry. Children do, up to a point – but grown-ass adults will almost never just sit somewhere with snot on their faces for minutes at a time. Likewise, most people watching someone cry are unlikely to just sit there watching snot drip all over their face without handing them a kleenex or a handkerchief.

To snot is human but only an actor will leave it there on their face as a sort of trophy of their tears. Most of us wipe away snot and tears when we cry. Not because we are vain or even ashamed but because….we just do!

Why do I care what those screen actors do to earn their awards? I don’t know. I suppose I chafe a little at the way actors on screen are praised for realism when things like snot acting are not, in fact, human behavior. It is a choice. Maybe it’s the actor’s choice, maybe it’s the director’s, maybe it’s the awards committees, maybe it’s a ploy for Oscars and Emmys – but it is a choice, a stylistic choice and I feel like it should be acknowledged as such. In my house, it’s become a performance category and we laugh every time we see it. While someone is acting their snot out, trying to show us tragedy or pain or something, we can’t help giggling and saying, “That’s some high-powered snot acting right there.”

I’m not saying an actor can’t snot on screen. If you’re crying and you snot, that’s normal – just, you know, treat it like you would if you snotted in real life. Pull out a kleenex or something. Use your sleeve! The back of your hand! Anything.


We don’t fetishize crying in quite the same way on stage so it’s not something I’ve encountered in the theatre. Actors crying on stage just try and clear their faces so they can keep acting. They’ll get it done any old way they can so the show can go on.

But on screen, they’re probably waiting for someone to call cut before they can deal with tears or snot or whatever on their faces.

Hey – being an actor ain’t easy. Crying for a living isn’t a walk in the park. I’m not trying to make it harder for folks. But critics and awards people might want to slow down their praise for snot acting or we are going to be looking at a lot of people’s snot for years to come.

You know what this crying girl in Pietro Rotari’s print would do if her nose started dripping? She’d use that handkerchief, of course!

This post was brought to you by my patrons on Patreon.

They also bring you the podcast version of the blog.

It’s also called Songs for the Struggling Artist.

You can find the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Terry Gilliam in the Toaster Oven

“Mum! Dad! It’s evil! Don’t touch it!”
This is the final line of one of my all time favorite movies, Time Bandits. I loved Time Bandits as a child and in the many subsequent viewings of it, as an adult, it has not diminished in my estimation. It is a delightful film made by one of my favorite filmmakers.

And I didn’t just love Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits, no. I also admired his Brazil, The Fisher King, and even his relatively unknown and under-appreciated, Tideland. Tideland is a deep cut in the Gilliam oeuvre and I was a big fan.

After reading his interview in The Independent, to say that I’m disappointed in him is a massive understatement. I’d heard he’d said some pigheaded garbage before but this was sustained pigheaded garbage. This was relentless pigheaded garbage.

As a feminist, I found it pigheaded enough to never want to hear from or see him again. I’d honestly prefer to have read his obituary than to have read his opinions on #MeToo. If it had been his obituary, I’d have cried and mourned the loss of his brilliant mind. As it stands, I guess I have to re-evaluate everything he ever made. Why, Terry Gilliam, why?!

Listen, he’s never been a particularly woman-friendly artist – but he hasn’t been actively terrible either. Sure, there are only a few women in Time Bandits but the main ones are Shelley Duvall and Katherine Helmond and they are remarkable. I didn’t mind that Time Bandits was a boy’s story. I really didn’t. It was perfect. The battle between Good and Evil, a test of the system, as it were, featuring an adorable kid and six hilarious thieves. But now that it’s clear that Gilliam has no idea that women are human, I’m going to have to sit in some discomfort. I don’t think I will love Time Bandits any less but I have to love it knowing the man who made it thinks that MeToo is a witch hunt, that Weinstein’s rape victims chose to be assaulted and that white men are the real victims here. The man who made some of my favorite films is basically an MRA. (Men’s Rights Activists are not actually activists for men. They’re the folks who bring us many violent acts against women and some incredibly toxic thinking.) Gilliam’s become like the chunk of pure burning coal sitting in the toaster oven at the end of Time Bandits. Poisonous and Vile. I’m finding it particularly difficult to reconcile.

It’s not as if I haven’t had to reconcile this sort of thing before. I could probably still recite whole Bill Cosby routines from his albums. I was a fan of Louis CK. I have appreciated some Roman Polanksi films. And, unlike those guys, we have no actual terrible deeds from Sir Terry. We just have his terrible thoughts. And his terrible thoughts suggest that he thinks my entire worldview is ridiculous. His terrible thoughts suggest that he has never thought of women as anything more than sex objects or archetypes. His terrible thoughts suggest that he thinks the systemic oppression of women and people of color are a joke. It breaks my Time Bandit loving heart.

It also strikes me as impossibly stupid. Because I am his fan base. I am his audience. And he just lost me. Who will go see his movie now? All of 4Chan? The darkest reaches of Reddit? The incel chat boards? Is that who he wants for his audience? I’m sure as hell not going to see his movie now and I’m sure I’m not alone in being suddenly very disinterested in what he’s made.

It matters what he says and thinks. If I’m going to go sit in a movie theatre and spend a couple of hours in the world someone created, I want to trust the mind of the person who made it. I wouldn’t go see a Brett Ratner or Bryan Singer movie. I no longer want to sit through the work of Woody Allen. The writer/director’s thoughts are intimately connected to the work they make. I know because I do those things onstage. If you don’t like how I think, you won’t like my creative work. How I think is intrinsic to how I make things. That’s true for most artists.

The upsetting thing about this Gilliam situation is not that Gilliam said some dumb shit and may now be canceled, it’s that he’s revealed himself to be the opposite of what I imagined him to be. Instead of a hero of creativity and bold imagination, he’s a stinky old dinosaur reinforcing the patriarchy. And he must have been all along, in such subtle ways, even I, who am very vigilant about these things, failed to sniff him out.

I have found myself re-evaluating much of his work through this newly revealed lens of his. I’m looking for the dark threads of misogyny and racism that must have been there all along before he laid them bare. I’m also working hard to somehow explain what feels inexplicable. I think, “Oh, he’s just trying to be funny. He’s enjoying being provocative. He’s purposefully sounding like an asshole because he enjoys making mischief. He is doing that classic buffoon style of clowning or something.” This is how I’ve explained away countless other asshole clowns but I don’t think it’s an in-the-past explanation that can fly anymore. I mean – it may explain the why but the why doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter why, in Time Bandits, Kevin’s parents reach in to the toaster oven after they are warned by their son not to. It doesn’t matter if they ignore his pleas to not touch the evil because they are contrary or because they always ignore him or because they think it’s funny. They reach in and touch the evil and the consequences are predictable.

Gilliam has surely been warned not to touch the evil in the toaster oven (he’s said some dumb things before) but in the end, he just couldn’t resist. To predictable and sad results.

But what does it matter? Why not just enjoy the films I used to like and forget about the man that made them? Well, it’s actually important that I look at this and not just forget about either Gilliam himself or his work. I have to dig in to some reflection on it because his work was so formative for me. I can draw a direct line from Time Bandits, from Gilliam’s sense of humor, from his aesthetic, to my own work. I can see the threads of his influence in a lot of my plays and fiction. I may have unconsciously interwoven some of the threads of his misogyny or racism along with his aesthetic. Unfortunately, learning what he really thinks about things means I have to be extra vigilant about the foundations of my own work. He was important to me when I was a child and has continued to be important. I can’t just brush off this development. It is a great loss and it will be a great project of reorganization. Even though it’s evil, I still have to look at it. I will not touch it, though! I know better than that!

Mum! Dad! It’s Evil! Don’t touch it!

This post was brought to you by my generous patrons on Patreon.

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Theatre Is Not a Training Ground or a Compost Bin
September 10, 2018, 9:28 pm
Filed under: art, theatre, TV | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A few months ago, this filmmaker told me that someone had told him his screenplay would work better on stage, that he should turn it into a play. I thought that was ridiculous and I told him so, too. Why would you want to produce something designed for the screen on stage? The other way around, I understand. But in probing the question further – it sounded as if his screenplay was very wordy and they were trying to dismiss his work by sending it to the theatre, where they thought dialogue would be more welcome. This made me mad.

Theatre is not here to take your shitty film cast offs. We value words, sure, but if there’s not a reason to put those words on a stage, live, in front of people, in the moment, it doesn’t need to be there. If the piece is just a couple of people talking, make a radio show or something. Podcast that shit. It just felt like some film folks thought of the theatre as their compost bin, where they could throw their scraps and maybe have something to spread on their garden.

And this guy, with his dialogue heavy screenplay, had thought, “Maybe I should turn this into a play.” But he had literally no idea what went into producing a play. He thought it must be easier than producing a film. Don’t worry; I dissuaded him from that idea pretty quickly. His screenplay was a two person kitchen table type scenario. He could easily shoot it with a couple of actors and an iPhone if he wanted to. He could do it for almost nothing. To produce those same two people at a table in a reputable theatre in NYC would cost thousands upon thousands of dollars. AND – there’d be no particular reason to see it onstage. It wasn’t meant for the stage. It would bring nothing to the medium. The medium wouldn’t improve it.

I tend to believe that theatre should have a reason to be live, to be theatrical in some way. If it’s not necessary that an audience be in the room with it, I don’t really care about whatever is onstage. That’s my particular taste, of course. But yeah, film dudes wanting to offload their dialogue on our stages don’t make me happy.

Not long after this conversation, I met a student who wanted to work in animation. She had been advised to take some theatre classes to help her with this goal. She had no interest in theatre. She did not particularly want to do it – but she was open to exploration. And you know, that’s fine. Explore away. But I found myself irritated by the teacher who’d advised her to study theatre. I felt similarly about this as Mr. Screenplay. Like, if you want to do animation, do animation! Draw! Make silly voices! Put voices to your drawings. Put drawings to your voices. And sure, theatre can help all kinds of people with all kinds of stuff but it feels a bit, I don’t know, condescending. No one sends people to film or animation classes to improve their theatrical skills. Like, if the training in your medium is insufficient, work on that! That’s the issue, not some strange sideline investigation into an entirely different art form.

And I don’t mean to sound snobby about this. I am so happy to have people explore whatever kind of art they want. If you’re a banker who wants to study theatre, I welcome you! If you’re a nurse who wants to learn to be a clown, come on over! Join the theatrical party! But I’m not so keen on this using theatre to substitute for training in other art forms.

Theatre is an art all by itself. It is not training wheels for film or TV or animation or video. It’s just not. And it’s not the place to send cast offs from those arts either. There is, of course, great value in experimenting with other forms to improve your work in your own. In college, I studied a little printmaking and drawing and I think it gave me some perspective on my work in theatre. But broadening your horizons in other forms is very different than trying to use a form as a stepping stone either toward or away from your own. Explore, by all means. Experiment! Discover! I just hope that everyone who dips their toes in a new form gives that form the respect it deserves, in and of itself.

Does this sound a little defensive? Maybe it’s a little defensive. As someone with a lifetime commitment to theatre, I have a lifetime of people assuming I’m aspiring to film or TV. I have hundreds of experiences of telling people I work in theatre and instantly being asked, “Have you ever been on TV?” It’s not the same. It is not the same. Some people, yes, go back and forth and more power to them. TV will make you a whole lot more money than theatre ever can. But theatre is theatre. It’s not practice. It’s not training. It’s not a stepping stone. It’s not a compost bin. It’s not here to try and be something else. Theatre is theatre.

 

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No applause for the Ladies
June 7, 2014, 5:54 pm
Filed under: feminism | Tags: , , , ,

The Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast (which I love) will sometimes have two of its lead actors (Marc Evan Jackson and Paul F. Tompkins) answer questions from listeners. In an episode I heard not too long ago, they discussed something that I cannot stop thinking about.

Thrilling Adventure Hour often features well-known guest stars from TV and Film. Apparently, when they enter, the audience tends to applaud but it never applauds for the women the way it does for the men. Both Tompkins and Jackson were confused and distressed by this fact. They wondered: Is it that the women aren’t as beloved? Or is it just that the audience doesn’t recognize them?

I don’t have an answer, obviously. In addition to not having ever seen a live performance of this particular show, the psychology of an audience will always be a mystery. But I can’t help turning over the problem. Are women on TV and film less recognizable? Or said in another way: Are women on screen more alike than not?

Certainly, given the extreme standards of beauty in the Industry, women tend to fit into a very narrow band of physical appearance. There is less variety in body type, in shape, in bone structure even. And when there IS variety, make-up, hair and stylists do a great deal of work to even that distinctiveness out.

The actors that appear on Thrilling Adventure Hour don’t tend to be mega stars. Many of them are featured players on TV shows. You’d love them from Firefly or Freaks and Geeks, not from a movie blockbuster – and at this level, men are in a position to be distinctive character actors. They can look any which way. Every man can look different.

Women, however, are styled (and chosen) to be objects in pretty much every scenario. And as objects are often seen as interchangeable, they can be more forgettable, perhaps. So when a man from someone’s favorite TV show shows up, the audience applauds wildly, thrilled to see their old friend. They can be fat, thin, FBI types, Doctor types, Garbage Man types, whatever. And when a woman shows up, it’s not clear which TV show she was the girlfriend or wife on and thereby draws less applause. She might be familiar but not immediately recognizable.

Is this what’s going on at Thrilling Adventure Hour? I have no idea. But I don’t think the adulation for men and tepid applause for women is unique to that show. And I think it is really worth thinking about.

And, of course, I’d like to see the crowds go crazy with applause for the ladies, too.

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