Book Trailer The Noble Train

Friday, April 3, 2009

The ER of the Arts--The final episode

A friend of mine from high school just appeared in the final episode of ER. I have never watched one episode, but I watched the final three hour show in support of this old friend. His name rolled in the credits and it was prominent. So then we waited through the special retro portion of the show until the real two hour show began. We didn't have to wait long. My friend was suddenly there in a shot and then he was gone. We waited through another hour of the show for him to reappear. My wife said she thought that was it for his character. I said no, there had to be more. Then towards the end he appeared again and said a few lines. That was it. Here then is the hell of the arts, a blip on a television show that lasts not two minutes after toiling for years. What makes it worse, is this guy was the best actor I ever knew.
We don't want to go down the road of statistics. They are too depressing. For the Authors Guild it is something like poverty level for ninety percent of the writers. The rest eek along and the golden one percent haul it in. Probably something like for every one writer you have heard about, a hundred thousand that will never see the light of day. In acting it is much the same. In all the arts it is much the same. There simply is not enough to go around. Talent is not enough. Timing, luck, connections...just about every variable in the world plays into the lottery of Who Wants To Be A Star, A Bestseller, A Rock star. Brutal reality is the word here. The brutal reality is that most artists will die in obscurity.

This fact does lessen the nobility of the act. Artists generally do not have a choice. They just are. There is no logical reason to choose a life in the arts. The pay is horrible, the hours long, the rewards few. So why do it? Therein lies the rub. Like my friend who managed to get on a show watched by millions (no small feat) he will continue acting long after the ER's of the world come and go. Artists are driven by their passion. If there was no passion then no one could stick to the road of thudding rejection, impoverishment, and alienation from a society that views most artist as suspect slackers. Get a job! Please!

So I watched ER to it's inglorious end. I had never watched the show and frankly if I ever seen another one it will be much too soon. Everyone dies. Every one is about to die. The situations are hackneyed and schizophrenic. But that's television. They way I see it, the show was lucky to have my friend. He's much too good an actor for television.

Books by William Hazelgrove