Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Which Deb Plays Armchair Psychologist to Hollywood

It was revealed this week, by undoubtedly intrepid reporters risking serious paper cuts, that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have not been photographed together since the first week of January.

Clearly, this means they have split up.  Any couple who does not pose for a photograph together every day must no longer be together, right?

(Poor Sven.  Even if paparazzi were stalking us, we would almost never be photographed together.  We leave at different times of the morning, we get home different times of night.  If he's going out, I'm staying home, and vice versa.  I need to tell him we must get in front of a camera, stat, if we want to save this relationship.)

But enough about me.  Speculation in the media is that Brad, who has been cast as THE GOOD GUY in the breakup, is insisting that Angelina get psychiatric help, or else he's leaving.  She has made public statements that fidelity is not "necessary" to a good relationship, and that she and Brad don't "restrict" each other.  He has "reportedly" purchased a home in Los Angeles in preparation for his return to single life.  They (also "reportedly") visited a lawyer to hammer out custody and financial arrangements in the event they do split up.

Though this speculation has been rampant for over a week, there has been no comment from either Brad or Angelina, though "a source close to the couple" said, "They're fine."

I neither know, or really care, whether or not this is true.  It has, however, along with the music history lessons I am giving to my fifth-graders, gotten me thinking about the messed-up lives of so many artists and entertainers.

I make my living in the arts, if you count "music teacher" as "in the arts."  Wether you teach, produce, or perform for a living, most of us do it because we have to.  We simply can't live without it.  Some, like my dad, have a "day job" and devote spare time (ha!) to their passion.  We call these people "sensible," or "practical," or "strong."  Others, however, can't make that compromise: we have to devote our time to what we're passionate about, or be miserable.  I'm lucky: I'm as passionate about teaching as I am about music, which means I can make a decent living still being true to myself.  Others starve or scrimp by waiting tables or flipping burgers.

Others do not compromise, but due to luck become so successful they accumulate material wealth in such a vast quantity it could legitimately be called "obscene."  I know the pursuit of wealth is the American dream and all, but at some point accumulating more money not only seems ridiculous, it seems harmful.

Regardless, there seem (to me) to be two kinds of people who make art their life:

1. People who love it so much that they find their niche.  These people recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and generally stick to what they are good at without excessive concern for the material rewards.

2. People who are trying to escape what they perceive as their own flaws.  They turn to art to fill a void in themselves.  They enjoy the process of "becoming" someone or something else, but, paradoxically, see the attention and/or money they receive as a result of "becoming" someone else validation for their own character.

Turning specifically to acting, I think there are plenty of examples of category 1: those who have been fortunate enough to be successful in their profession, but who seem to be basically healthy, well-adjusted people, or at least people with the same kinds of problems that regular people have.  I mean, so what if George Clooney still hasn't found the right woman?  Nothing wrong with that, he's got plenty of time.  They say 60 is the new 30.

Those who fall in to category 2 are the stuff of legendary tragedy.  Marilyn Monroe springs to mind.  Judy Garland is another.  Unhappy childhoods, battles with depression, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs... E! built the entire "True Hollywood Story" series on these sorts of tales.

The old adage, "You won't be happy with someone else until you are happy with yourself," is true no matter how beautiful, talented, or wealthy you are.  Why do so many Hollywood marriages and relationships fail?  Is it rampant narcissism: the inability to care for someone else as much as one cares for one's self?  Or does it come from low self-esteem, the inability to accept the love of others because one can't love one's self?  The restless, changeable nature of the chronically insecure?

I'm going with all of the above.


Kristina P. said...

Well said. I do believe that Brangelina's publicist denied the split. I really thought they would make it!! :P

Boy Mom said...

All those poor babies!

That Girl said...

You should totally write to InTouch magazine. Except yours is actually true.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Very well written. And I'd have to agree with your summation. Whatever is going on w/ them I hope for the sake of the children that they find a stable solution that provides a model for healthy relationships.