Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ricky Gervais gave me something to think about

The Comedy Network recently showed the finale of Extras, and there was a scene that really resonated with me, and so I sought it out to share it with the rest of you. It seems like I've been writing this post forever, even though it has only been about 6 days. Then again, in the blogging world, 6 days is a lifetime.

If you have been watching Extras and you haven't seen the final Christmas special, this video and the description that follows it will have a few spoilers about how things turn out on the series as this is near the end of that episode. Keep that in mind.

Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) was a former extra who finally had a big swig from the fountain of fame, but because of his own hubris, it seems his career as an actor is in trouble, and in a bid to remain famous, he agrees to appear on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK, and while there, he finally has a catharsis about the nature of fame, celebrity and simple human decency, and he shares his thoughts with his fellow quasi-celebrities and the viewing audience of Britain.

Like I said, this soliloquy really resonated for me because really I am on both sides of what Gervais/Millman is saying. On the one hand, I am guilty by association, because I am, though not a huge presence in the world of celebrity reporting, I contribute to the overall sea of voices lionizing/demonizing celebrities. No, I haven't lain in a gutter taking pictures up the skirt of an up-and-coming young actress, but I have gotten perverse pleasure out of slamming enough of them. Did it make a positive contribution to anyone? I don't think so. I pick on celebrities because it is easy, and a lot of the time, it is harder to take the high road than to take the high road. Occasionally I can get my stuff together enough that I can make a principled stand against talking about certain people, but I often find myself beset by the temptation to take one last shot.

Yes, some people truly deserve it though, and in those cases, I don't feel so bad for doing it, but I would say there are more than a few times when I've felt a little ashamed of myself for attacking someone when they are going through some stuff in their lives that they aren't advertising to the world through their publicists and in the future, I will be a little more mindful of that. However, if you appear on a reality show to deal with a problem, well, pretty much you are fair game now.

And by the same token, I also understand the desire to be famous in my own small way. I relish traffic, especially when it suddenly bursts... and when I got that link from the IMDB and the five figure hits(and numerous comments) from that, I was on top of the world. The dark side of that are those days when it seems like you are sitting on a desert island somewhere and you have no hope of someone coming to visit you. I've gotten better about that over the past couple of years, but I still remember some of those really bad days. But I've also come to realize that really, no amount of sustained traffic would ever be enough, because once I reached another plateau, I'd always want more in an unhealthy and obsessive way.

And the challenge for me is avoiding doing the toxic things which would get me a lot of readers and hits quickly, but are ultimately bad for me and this blog in the long run, which would be the equivalent of appearing on Celebrity Big Brother for an actor. Things in this category include starting a war of words with a more prominent individual than myself based on personal attacks (rather than a mere disagreement with their ideas or work) or deliberately writing posts of a controversial nature (like if I suddenly wrote posts with titles like "Star Wars and Its Fanboys Suck!" or "Wanna See Miley Cyrus Naked!?" or "I Beat Off Andy Dick (with a Stick)", or making a public spectacle of myself, but really none of that is good attention, and the benefits I would achieve wouldn't last, and in some cases, I would be far worse off than I was when I began, because acting like that burns a lot of bridges. Yes, you can rebuild them, but that takes a lot more work, and I am a lazy, lazy man.

It is a strange thing when a work of fiction makes you reevaluate every aspect of a large part of your life.


Semaj said...

Great post, MC. You bring up some good post and what you say is completely right, but I think what keeps you from being like the other blogs is you believe in what ever you attack or support and it shows in your writing (Like the Jodie Foster story you wrote).

I have to admit I’ve written post like the ones you describe, but I would come down too hard on yourself for that.

Star Wars and Its Fanboys Suck: I’d loved to see that one.

By the way, that Extra clip is great. The entire episode is kind of sad.

MC said...

I'd stand behind that Jodie Foster thing any day of the week. What I feel bad about is basically kicking someone while they are clearly down.

Kicking Paris Hilton because of the Hottie and the Nottie: Fully earned.

Kicking Paris Hilton when she is on her way to jail: Feeling a wee bit guilty

Kicking Britney Spears because of some erratic behavior, especially in comic form: Feel bad.

Kicking Uwe Boll anytime: Feels good, feels really good.

Calling someone out because of something they've said (like Mark Wahlberg re: The Ocean's Movies): Again, feels totally acceptable.

Calling out a celebrity couple because they broke up with press releases and the media reporting it like a tragedy: Within bounds.

Now, I'm only really funny when I am mean, but I sometimes feel guilty because of it.

Arjan said...

keep posting the things that you like..cause I like it that way.

Some stuff deserves to be made fun off, some stuff doesn't, and there's the stuff with the gray line.

Micgar said...

Wow! Matt-that was a powerful scene! I like your "incisive" posts. Don't change a thing! It seems like the others feel that way too!

Lee said...

Oh man those post headings are gold! Wait up a sec while a get a pencil I gotta write those down...

Now what were you saying about Andy Dick and how much traffic would you expect to increase...

MC said...

Arjan: Well it is that grey area that bothers me... because some of it is still rather dark.

Micgar: Thank you for your support.

Lee: He would be a hot topic right now, especially if someone else ran with it using a link to your article.