Think You're So Special
By Dana Gould
believe that every living person is not special in his or her own
way. Especially me. Not that that in any way sets me apart. I admit
I may be wrong, but I do know that most of the big disappointments
in my life can be traced back to the belief that, at the time, I
was somehow entitled to more.
dangerous perspective is easy to cultivate and maintain if you make
your living in the entertainment industry. Show business is full
of people who are fed the belief that they were put on this earth
to grace the rest of us with their very being. People who, in the
words of my father, "think they shit vanilla ice cream out
a platinum asshole."
you can't blame them, for they are fed these thoughts. Agents, mangers,
and especially publicists stake their livelihoods on convincing
"the talent" that their dumper is a Dairy Queen.
Well, how else are you going to convince people to stay in the business?
Show biz needs bodies, and if you told struggling actors they were
merely practitioners of an honorable craft, playing long odds for
success against an uncaring industry, many would wise up and bolt
however, they were told they were Chosen -- fated and deserving
an extraordinary, glamorous existence once just the right team of
agent- manager- publicist- stylist- trainers have cleared the objects
blocking Destiny's Path -- "and in the meantime, here's this
month's invoice, Caleb. Great job on the audition for Treachery
from shameful and gullible experience. Years ago, in a sepia-toned
time called "the early '90s," I was hot, hot, hot.
to be a TV star. Why? Because I was a comedian. Back then, in the
days of Jerry and Roseanne and the guy from Home Improvement,
comedians automatically became TV stars. That, at least, was the
belief at Team Gould, and though my canyon-deep self-loathing prevented
me from seeing it too, too clearly, I didn't argue that much, did
reasonable offers came my way: auditions for this, a bit part in
that, two or three lines here or there, but Team Gould always scoffed.
After all, I was special, so what kind of career plan is that? Slowly
accumulate a body of work and experience? Learn one's craft by doing?
Run the risk of failure? Try?
sales pitch on me was that I was the next Robin Williams, and so
I should not accept any offer that fell short of that expectation.
The few times I overruled my handlers and actually took a job resulted
in a limited body of work now known as My Complete Resume.
retrospect, it seemed a three-day plan. On Monday, the phone would
mysteriously ring. On Tuesday, I would become an overnight, global
superstar. On Wednesday, my job on Earth fulfilled, I would evolve
into pure energy.
I'm still here, and the taste, like a leaky "D" battery
dabbed on the tongue, remains. It's why I can no longer read a Vanity
Fair profile. Whenever they imbue a burgeoning celebrity's simple
actions with Great Meaning ("Brittany Murphy orders a turkey
burger. She knows what she wants and is determined to get it!"),
I cringe, cringe, cringe.
the end of the day, one has to admit that most would-be megastars,
the pigeons in this behavioral con game, are complicit in their
deception. The life of a struggling actor is hard. Look at the daily
routine. Based on my observation, it starts out at the gym on the
Stairmaster, then segue's to half a protein shake before killing
an empty hour watching Boomer run around the dog park. Pretty accurate
depiction of their lot in life: killing themselves on stairs that
lead nowhere before starving themselves on the way to a beautiful
place that's actually full of shit.
the best of luck to all of you!
I got lucky. After realizing the lucrative-if-anonymous world of
writing was a better use of my abilities, I canned the Team and
walked off the path. Last week, I was notified that I was nominated
for not one, but two Emmys. Don't look for me on the big broadcast,
though. Both categories are announced off the air, the week before,
at the "Creative Arts Emmys."
the award show for us non-special folks.
version for easy reading
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