I wouldn’t Pull That Attitude If "Newsies" Was On My IMBD Filmography

Why do we let “artists” get away with it? Ok, yesterday I was listening to the Christian Bale freak-out (tantrum? melt-down? bitch fit?) tape on the radio. I understand that the D.P. ( they were called cinematographers once upon a time, right?) somehow made himself unuseful, and thus earned an another assripping from Christian Bale. I get it. They say that when an artist is in the “moment” that they get so into what they are doing that the slightest disturbance can throw them out of the moment, and ruin any possibility of making good art. I get it. But, my question is, what makes them so different? I mean, really, who hasn’t been interrupted while in a “moment”? Kids knocking on the door while you’re trying to get busy? Dog barking while you’re trying to get busy? Cell phones, people talking, whatever. The point is, is that we, meaning everybody, not just celebrities, are interrupted all the time — including when we are in our “moments”. I don’t recall anyone giving the guy at Starbucks (I refuse to call them by that pretentious title that’s supposed to make his job sound like he does anything besides make coffee) permission to verbally shread some dude who interrupts him while he’s making my most excellent tall mocha latte. Yet, we expect it of our celebrities. We give them excuses. We say that, because an actor is in the “moment” he must never be interrupted, is reason enough to excuse his or her anger management problem. Ok, try this one out. Let’s put someone having a Christian Bale moment in the world where we live: Let’s say that there is a teacher. Wait, let’s take it out of the realm of kids (because dressing down an eight year old is a problem and morally inexcusable. Unless that kid’s name is Dante. In that case, it’s not only reasonable but justified). Let’s say that there is a college professor. and he’s trying to conduct a — let’s say a philosophy of religion class. And there is a student who has a problem keeping quiet. Now, let’s also say that during this particular class the professor is experiencing a philosophic flow moment (oops, I meant “moment”). Plantinga is pouring out of him like a *insert simile here*. And, this student, as expected, opens its yap. Now, the comment the student said wasn’t totally off topic. In fact, it might have been helpful for other students to hear. It might have been like a D.P. rearranging his lights while an actor, some feet away, is doing his scene. But since the “moment” was interrupted, the professor goes postal. He rants and raves for a full five minutes, calling the student everything but a white woman (it’s a legitimate saying). Now, of course, some people might give the prof a big props for finally saying something. But others, others who may have been helped by the comment might describe the professor as an ass (if they weren’t already). We, I mean, some people might have said that it would have been better if the professor quietly spoke to the student after class, where they might have come to some agreement about raising hands (and waiting to be called on — not that raising your hand while already talking crap) before speaking. The point being, that in a classroom, it might not be appropriate if a person rips into someone — even if their “moment” is disturbed. If the student reported the incident, the professor might very well be looking forward to a nice conversation with the higher-ups of that department. Nevertheless, we don’t excuse schoolteachers, or cops, or judges, or the Sparkletts guy for going off if their “moment” is disturbed. So why do we tolerate it from “artists”? The explanation usually goes along the lines that somehow, artists are valuable to society. Value, as philosophers understand it, is intrinsically connected with ethics. So, if we bring in value, we automatically (I think) pull in certain ethical considerations that are worth examining: The Utlitarian Excuse: It’s said that we excuse outbursts like Christian Bale’s because the overall value (this time monetary) overrides any hurt feelings that a hissy-fitting celebrity may cause. Millions of dollars ride on the quality of an actor’s performance. If a movie sucks because an actor’s performance wasn’t his “all” (because the damn D.P. wouldn’t stop getting in the actor’s eyeline), then a studio stands to lose millions of dollars, which is bad. But, if we want to stretch that reasoning to the “real” world ( did you know that Kurt Loder {of MTV} had the nerve to call non-celebrities “civillians”?. really, he did. that’s some balls, eh?), we could say that potentially billions of dollars rides on the smooth goings-on in a classroom. If, for instance, a classroom is continually interrupted by a chatterbox student, the overall quality of the education of the other students may be diminished. If these students aren’t properly educated, they cannot get the good green jobs that President Obama wants them to get. And, if they can’t get good green jobs, then they won’t earn as much, and if they don’t earn as much, then they can’t buy as much… and so on. Billions of dollars down the toilet because some brat can’t clamp his trap. But here’s the catch. Anyone can excuse damn-near anything if you start calculating potential dollars. In fact, since they said that this wasn’t the first time that the D.P. broke Christian Bale’s concentration, it would have made better sense (utilitarianly speaking, of course) to kill him. That way, the interruptions are permanently stopped. Intuitionism, maybe: Sure, utilitarianism offers us plenty of excuses for allowing artists whose “moment” has been interrupted to go ballistic, but that seems intuitively wrong. It just doesn’t settle well with some people that the star of a film can strip a man of his manhood in front of God and everybody just because he saw a shadow of a dude in khaki shorts hanging up Christmas lights in the corner of his eye. We feel in our guts that there is some sort of double standard at work. I realize that I am making an appeal to intuitionism, which may or may not be a good way to go. I feel that intuitionism as an ethical theory is too amorphous to deal with than to say that intuitionist ethics is like opening up another can of worms entirely ( in fact, I tend to see opening up that can, that instead of opening up a can of kick ass, opening up a can of intuitionism is like peeling back the lid on a fresh can of suck ass). The Totally Wrong Kantian Approach: So, the utlitarian tells us to kill anyone who endangers our art, and that might be a bit extreme. So, we look to Kant. Well, Kant does say something about not letting our talents rust. Actors have plenty of talent. So, this D.P. who can’t keep his ass out of an artist’s field of vision is making things rough for Mr. Bale to do his art. Each moment he’s not in the “moment” is another moment wasted — another moment of needless rusting. If movie sets all across America and Canada (because it’s cheaper to film up there) experienced this kind of interruption, cinematic art as we know it may end forever. That is bad. But wait, Kant says that not letting out talents rust is a duty that we have to ourselves, not one we have to other people. So, if Christian Bale is so disturbed by the interruption that he cannot act, the offense is against himself, not the D.P. against him. And if we wanted to pull in a discussion of ends/means here, we can say that Christan Bale cannot accuse the D.P. of any other Kantian foul. The intent of the D.P. was to light the set properly enough so that Christian Bale looked good. His intention was not to destroy the art taking place on the set of Terminator: Salvation. But, now that I’ve mentioned using someone as a mere means, I think that I’ve figured out where the moral wrong actually is: I say that, in fact, the real offence was and is against the film-going public. Although the movie industry has given us some great art, like Spacechimps and the Sopornos, I say that it is us who are being used as a mere means to the movie industry’s ends. First, I don’t know about what other people consider normal, but going off on someone for ten minutes for getting in your field of vision is a bit excessive. I’m no Dr. Phil, but I seriously think that Christian Bale might be what we call now, a rage-o-holic. I think that he wasn’t just mad at the D.P., if you know what I mean, and for that, it is he who used the D.P. as a mere means punching bag. But, as the question pertains to us — Kant says that we enter into agreements with individuals to our mutual benefit. I will agree to pay a price to a shopkeeper because we both benefit from the fair and open exchange of money for goods. The point being is that neither is attempting to take advantage of the other in the exchange. But, I think that getting an advantage is exactly what is happening here. Christian Bale took advantage of the fact that, as the star of the film, he is able to tnatrum without consequence. Others on the set may be punished for what they do, but he is not. (I can’t imagine the camera operator raging at Christian Bale after blowing a take for making him waste film). Likewise, whenever a celebrity “gets over” or gets away with doing something that we sould not, blatant and open drug use, skankism, murder — they not only exhibit an open standard for themselves to which they feel that they must be regarded, but they also use us as a mere means to their fame. They get what they want, meanwhile we are deprived of quality entertainment and potential role model or two. In the relationship between artist and consumer, or us, we are not getting a fair exchange of money for goods ( I’d say that the last time I felt that I got my money’s worth was Grandma’s Boy, but that’s just me). Although I rant, I realize that this puny post isn’t going to change any minds about the subject. Those in the know will say that a civilian like myself will never understand the pressures of being an artist, who while in his moment, was so horribly and permanently disrupted and disturbed by some SOB who only cared about getting the set lit, and didn’t care or appreciate the fact that he was denying an artist his ability, no, his RIGHT to make good art. No, I will never understand. But I’ll say right here, if any artist wants to pull that crap with me, Ockham ain’t the only dude in town with a razor. And that, my friends, is completely utlitarianly justified.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s