by Burt Prelutsky | Los Angeles
One of the reasons that movies today are so devoid of compelling characters and engrossing plots is that the folks who make them are, more often than not, too young and too isolated from humanity. That’s not to say that writers and directors in their 20s and 30s can’t be talented, but, as a rule, what they have are a passel of petty grievances (the studios, their agents, the deals, other people’s success, etc.); what they lack is wisdom. They simply haven’t lived long enough or suffered enough major losses — friends, parents, spouses, children — to have developed a grown-up’s philosophy.
Perhaps that also helps to explain why nearly all of them are liberals. When all that one hears all day long is left-wing claptrap — and especially when future employment demands acquiescence to the prevailing tenets — it’s easy to understand the half-baked inanities these wienies so arrogantly espouse. They speak of tolerance as if it’s something they copyrighted, but they despise everyone who isn’t in lockstep with them. Although they make their living with words, when it comes to debating the opposition, they rely on a mantra of “racist,” “fascist,” “bigot” and “homophobe.”
This isolation from large segments of the population, relying strictly on other members of the industry for one’s social and intellectual life, might also explain why even major stars subscribe to the blathering of someone like Barack Obama, who carries on very much like a movie star.
It occurred to me that even without make-up, stars don’t seem to age at the same rate as the rest of us. It’s not all thanks to Botox and plastic surgery, hairpieces and stomach stapling. When you’re a movie star, as rich as Midas, as pampered as Madame Pompadour, you are spared all the day-to-day travails that wear down the rest of us. Stars have drivers, managers, secretaries, gofers and nannies, to take care of all their needs — everything from picking up his dry cleaning to raising the kids.
A tragedy in a star’s life is getting a smaller trailer than the female lead. A hardship in that world is having to get up early in the morning so that some guy who had to wake up even earlier can chauffeur him to the studio, where someone else will dress him and apply his makeup, so that a third person can then guide him safely around the scenery and tell him how to say his lines.
Except that he may have less time for golf and vacations, it’s a lot like being the president. One main difference is that the star has to pay for his own bodyguards, while the rest of us have to pay for the president’s.
Living that sort of privileged life, even Methuselah, on his deathbed, wouldn’t have looked a day over 450.
Warren Beatty once said that at some point in his life, every man should experience being a motion picture star. His message was that such fortunate individuals never have to pursue women because women pursue them. He’s right, of course. The odd thing is that movie stars don’t have to look like young Mr. Beatty or Brad Pitt to be chick magnets. I have known a lot of actors, a great many of whom looked more like me than they did like George Clooney, but even they had to beat off women with a stick; although, truth be told, they generally left the stick in the closet or out in the tool shed.
It took me a long time to figure out the attraction. I finally decided that women spend a good deal of their time fantasizing and, so, when they are with a professional actor, it seems only natural to fantasize they are co-starring in a movie, even if it’s X-rated.
I suspect that an additional bonus is that any guilt they might otherwise have experienced over having sex with a perfect, or perhaps I should say, an imperfect stranger, is easily dispelled by the notion that it was only a movie after all, and that, like every ditsy actress who’s ever done a tacky nude scene, she, too, was merely doing it for her art!
copyright 2010 Burt Prelutsky
Television scriptwriter, former humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine.