It’s a strange experience living in Hollywood and working in the entertainment industry. It doesn’t feel real sometimes. For example, I just typed “film industry adjacent” then “entertainment industry adjacent” until I realized, nope, I actually work in the entertainment industry. I am engineering, producing, and editing entertainment.
It’s not somewhere I ever saw myself when I dreamed of the future.* But it’s a very interesting time. There are Emmy winning actors, world famous comedians, and occasionally, a genuine legend who walk through the podcast studio. Or I go to their house and that’s an even stranger idea.
I’ve met, and been introduced to: Dan Harmon, Bobcat Goldthwait, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Kathy Griffin, and Larry David.
I have been in the same room with many other names you might recognize.** To the point where names on the calendar become commonplace. When I plan out my week I look at my back log of editing and realize that I get to hear twice as much stuff as the listeners of these podcasts.
For someone who once thought she would be talking to up and coming punk bands, meeting Mel Brooks is a life changing experience. It puts you on a whole new playing field. One where the thread in the balls is 24 carat gold and the grass is actually fake but very expensive fake grass.
Most of the people I’ve encountered are a pure delight. But I’m also encountering them under a very specific set of circumstances. They have agreed to sit down with one of their friends (and in some cases idols) and have a conversation. They’re inherently in a good mood when they show up. Sometimes they catch my name and don’t notice me again. Sometimes they ask me questions and engage in conversation.
Which is part of why I don’t feel like I’m in the entertainment industry. I’m on the fringes, I’m observing, I’m silent. My journalism training kicks in and I watch them rub their face before giving an answer, I notice how their eyes flick around the room when they don’t have anything else to say. And then they leave and I pack up my equipment and drive home.
But this is where I like to be. Observing, learning, thinking, analyzing. These comedic minds all have similar mannerisms. They have similarities in their upbringing, and now that they’re all rolling in the cash, have similar life styles.
Just working with the host of the podcast I notice so many differences between generations and socio-economic status. When his wife asked me what I thought of #OscarsSoWhite, I knew I couldn’t tell her my real feelings, because she wouldn’t understand them at all. I come from the generation of loud, obnoxious, sometimes way too entitled, voices.*** She comes from not only an older generation, but a very specific background in the entertainment industry.
I politely voiced only part of my opinion, instead letting her do most of the talking as she is wont to do. However, when asked about my political leanings I told her me and all my friends Feel the Bern hard. You have to pick your battles in this war on backwards ideologies. While I won’t tell her I believe something absolutely must be done about the lack of representation in the entertainment industry and that Jada Pinkett-Smith’s boycott is kind of a good idea,**** I will tell her my political stance – because in her circles it’s much more socially acceptable to support Bernie Sanders than to support a boycott of the biggest awards show in the entire industry. Which I’ve learned over the many conversations we’ve had in the last few months.
So I toe the line between being right there in the trenches of entertainment, and observing it as though I’m Jane Goodall living with the gorillas of Africa. And trust me, it is a damn fine line, and I am getting to be a pretty good tightrope walker.
*tbh I saw myself living in London and working at Kerrang! but moving to London is a lot harder than I realized at 18.
**Since I am a naturally shy person, and celebrities are a strange breed of human, I don’t always jump to introduce myself.
***Seriously, there is now a McSweeney’s Millenial Think Piece Bingo Card.
****Probably executed poorly, but when you’re that mad and have that many twitter followers I honestly can’t blame you, and someone in some kind of power had to say SOMETHING.
P.S. Hollywoo is in reference to BoJack Horseman.