Go now, and read this piece on Marlon Brando.
The genius, then, sprung from control: Give me a million dollars and no deadline to write my next scandal piece for Hairpin and I’ll turn in something two years from now that basically recites “I Love You Ryan Gosling Take Off Your Shirt.” Have me do it for free with only the promise of personal glory, and I’ll give you something with esoteric adjectives, turns of phrase, and jokes concerning my home state — plus I’ll turn it in on time, every time.
Same goes for the stars. With effectively no oversight and enormous demand for his services, Brando began to indulge: in women, in food, in his own vanity. The films after On the Waterfront are successively more bloated and embarrassing, and a 1957 New Yorker profile, written by Truman Capote, made it clear that Brando was not just a jackass but perhaps also a dilettante. And it’s completely heartbreaking. (Anne Helen Petersen)
Few things are as electric for me as Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront. When he’s fitting Eva Marie Saint’s white glove on, and when he’s taking a beating behind the Bad Guy’s shack…wow. I mean, Streetcar Named Desire is awesome, but that movie belongs more to Vivien Leigh than to Brando (and that probably adds to the OMG tension in it). And putting him in a leather jacket doesn’t move me anymore. But I coulda been a contender? OH YES. YES PLEASE.
There’s a line to be walked when it comes to control of your own career as a creative. Sometimes it’s a fine one–how best to respond to people confusing you with your characters? (Hint: Very, very carefully.) Other times it’s a huge thick black scrawl you can see from space–how to respond to reviews? (Hint: DON’T.) Believing your own publicity is the kiss of death. Staying hungry, staying sharp, refusing to look away, remembering that even the greatest star needs editing or direction, this is a lifelong work, and it’s easy to get tired and start believing your own bullshit (or the internet review-o-sphere) is Holy Writ.
It’s good to have at least one best friend who punctures you when you get too bigheaded, and it’s doubly good to look at other life trajectories and think there but for the grace of God…
It’s also possible to go the other way–doing it for free is the only way to prove you love something OR produce Worthy Arte, which, in too-large quantities, is just as much damaging bullshit. There’s no shame in getting fairly paid for the work you pour into your creativity, there is definitely no shame in knowing your own worth and asking for it–or even a little bit more–because you work like a drayhorse. It’s hard to walk that line and so, so easy to get tired or brutally self-indulgent. There’s also no shame in working for something other than cash, as long as you have a really good strong idea of what that other thing is and what your endgame needs to include.
All in all, though, I would rather have a creative career have too much control by said creative than too little. It does give one bloated Brando, but the other way–complete studio/audience control–uses up people and throws them away like Kleenex. There’s enough of that where writers, actors, musicians, and other artists are concerned, at least in our culture.
Anyway. Happy April First, there is no prank hidden in this blog post. I hate the nastiness masquerading as fun on this day with a passion, which has a lot to do with the endless torment I received as a child. I’ve grown to dislike practical jokes of all kinds, really. There’s just too much meanness masquerading as “just having fun” in the world.
And now cranky fun-less me should go have some breakfast.
Over and out.