I watched the movie Bright Lights, Big City over the holidays. It’s a ‘supposedly’ gritty look at a young writer’s downward spiral into the New York club and drug ‘scene’ of the 80’s as he ‘suffers’ through the loss of his mother, his marriage, and his will to write. And it stars Michael J. Fox.
It doesn’t work. Mostly because Michael J. Fox isn’t especially gritty, or believable as the downward spiral type. Oh he tries. He acts really, really hard. But, no. His decidedly non-gritty-ness casts a shine over the movie that really works against what the story is trying to accomplish.
Side note on. I have memories that when this movie came out, all the flack seem to land solidly on Mr. Fox’s shoulders. That he was so inappropriate, that he couldn’t handle it, but frankly Phoebe Cates (who ‘supposedly’ plays the cold ambitious step-over-your-dead-body wife) is SO much more inappropriate. She couldn’t do grit if she was dumped in corn syrup and rolled in sand. Side note off.
I’m always interested when people work with ‘gritty’ intensity to be something, to have something, that they’re not. Me included. I wanted to be that too cool for school big city playwright. I am so not. Honestly, I’m too much of a dork. Square peg meet round hole. I thought ‘the serious playwright’ (oh with the quotes today) was who I needed to be in order to be successful. It took a long time for me to question if I actually wanted that kind of life. And even longer to realize that I didn’t, and more time to realize it was ok.
It’s exhausting trying to be something you’re not. Well come on, have you tried fitting a square peg in a round hole? It takes up a lot of time, it spins a lot of wheels. There was a time where Michael J. Fox seemed so gosh darn determined to show the world he was this entirely different kind of actor (Anyone remember that Vietnam movie he made?), a really tense kind of round hole actor. And then maybe he asked himself a couple of questions too.
What’s the moral of the story? Know who you are. Embrace who you are. Work at who you are and Challenge who you are, cause doing the same ole, same ole, is just as bad as trying to be something you’re not. Be who you are to the best of your ability.
Professionally, I am:
- A writer with a desire to write good plays, challenge myself creatively, have some impact.
- An educator, but not a teacher – I didn’t know the difference till this past year. Teaching a workshop is miles different than being in the classroom day after day. Big difference. Huge.
- A proud small (small, small, small) business owner – Bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger is only bigger. There are other ways to grow a business that aren’t necessarily bigger.
Who are you?