So I was watching some films lately, and coupling this with reading Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up it all got me to thinking: What is so wrong about cutting your teeth and paying your dues? It seems as if fame nowadays has such a lack of people who don’t mind working their way up, and it is sad.
Watch any film starring an old-fashioned hoofer and you’ll see something magnetic and engaging that a lot of stars nowadays are completely lacking, and I think a big part of that is that these people had to work to get where they were. Looking back on the golden age of cinema most of the stars could act, could sing, could dance, could seemingly do it all. Because they had to. They cut their teeth performing 8 shows a day. They paid their dues on long nationwide tours, and they learned how to actually work for their living. And that engaging spark that comes from actually learning your trade is missing. Now we’ve got people getting TV deals and book deals and movies from twitter or youtube. Youtube isn’t paying your dues and twitter’s not going to teach you to command an audience.
There’s a reason Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire had a lifetime in the arts working until their dying days, and there’s a reason why today’s flash-in-the-pan celebrities are given only 15 minutes. The Kellys and the Astaires learned how to do it. They learned how to work, because showbusiness is work – excruciating work – that those who want fame only are unwilling to do and so they are unwilling to become anything lasting.
So cut your teeth. Learn your trade. It’s a good thing.