Saturday, July 22, 2006

Throwing Pies

I had a rough night on Thursday. I went to see an advance screening of a film my company produced. The narrative of consists solely of a series of comedic vignettes. I laughed heartily through the first twenty minutes. And then one of the characters took a bowel movement into a funnel connected to a tube that was connected to a respirator through which another character breathing. And then I heard a voice...

"I got into television because I saw people throwing pies at each other's faces and that, to me, was such demeaning behavior. And if ther's anything that bothers me, it's one person demeaning another. That really makes me mad.'"

In the next scene, one of the characters threatened to splash horse semen into another's face. And then I heard a voice...

"What we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become."

I sank further and further into my seat as the rest of the film unspooled, then raced to the elevator banks before any of the executives could grab me and ask, "Sooooo? What did you think?"

Stepping back into what I humorously call The Death Star on Friday morning was difficult. I didn't know whether I could tell my boss how I really fely about the film (morally bunkrupt, shallow and complex), and didn't know that I could keep quiet at a marketting meeting for said film late in the day. I decided to reach out To Amy and Bo in Fred's absence. Both were hugely empathic and helpful.

Amy, too, was wrestling with the remifications of being true to (what Mr. Rogers would call) her "honest self" in regards her forthcoming book. Bo understood the struggle as well.

    There does come a time when one questions whether he's compatible enough with his job and employer, and sometimes the answer is "no." That's why Josh (my son) left Hollywood after seven years of increasing success and fulltime work that was the envy of all his friends (like playing Karla's son on "Cheers" for the last four seasons of the show). He was in a "Jackass"-type movie called "Clueless" and it did him in. He said "If this is what I'm contributing to after seven years, I don't want to be doing it after twenty." And yet, there are many great people in Hollywood who figure out how to hang in there. And no doubt at MTV as well. It's a personal issue, not a categorical one. An honorable struggle.

An honorable struggle both Fred, Amy and Bo must have known would become increasingly challenging.

I love my job, and the people with whom I work. But I'm sure the executives at Smith & Wesson or Altria would say the same thing. So, for the moment, I'm not going anywhere. It would be financial suicide to just up and quit. And would reduce the value of the binary inherent to "Mr. Rogers & Me." But the time will come.

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