“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.”
MGM and Disney
Entertainment is a business. It comes with a cost. People pay the price. The songs you listen to were hoped-for hits, the books you read were hoped-for bestsellers, scripts are written to be box office boffos.
For every gentle Walt Disney and John Lasseter there are ruthless bastards like Louis B. Mayer and Harvey Weinstein and Roy Disney times ten. Seldom are they held accountable for the broken souls, hearts and bodies left in the wake of the machine.
MGM had the famous “studio system”. I liked it a lot but I do have to admit that the pressure on the players was enormous. Here is what Louis B. Mayer had to say about it:
“The idea of a star being born is bush-wah. A star is made, created; carefully and cold-bloodedly built up from nothing, from nobody. All I ever looked for was a face. If someone looked good to me, I’d have him tested. If a person looked good on film, if he photographed well, we could do the rest. … We hired geniuses at make-up, hair dressing, surgeons to slice away a bulge here and there, rubbers to rub away the blubber, clothes designers, lighting experts, coaches for everything—fencing, dancing, walking, talking, sitting and spitting.”
Cold blooded indeed. This was true for forty darn years. My goodness they made a lot of money.
Disney is the same machine today. They are not pushing pills on the kids like Mayer did but the pressure on the children is still harsh. Disney for the past twenty years has been in the top ten companies of the United States; this machine is big, big, big.
Sometimes the kids make it out okay. Shirley Temple and Justin Timberlake are good examples. But many paid a harsh price for their entire lives. Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan were pushed until they broke and then they put themselves together again and tried once more. I can’t imagine the suffering.
There is no lack of talent. Kids auditioned in Hollywood from the beginning. Today Disney has massive cattle calls in the major cities where the children circle around the block for their chance to be discovered. Each of them can sing, dance and act. Why any parent would sacrifice their child on the altar of fame and fortune is beyond me and almost evil.
I saw the terrific performance by Renée Zellweger in the movie Judy yesterday with my sister. The story is about Judy Garland being haunted and how she had been warped by her childhood experiences with Louis B. Mayer. Clearly, she never recovered.
I’ve changed my point of view. Now, every time I hear about musicians melting down or actors who put paper bags over their heads or excessive demands from any writer, singer, composer or performer; I now look at their manager or producer or mom. Those guys are at fault, the things we see in the news are from endless and relentless pressure to do it again and make more money.