As a member of SAG-AFTRA, I take this voting time of year seriously. I curl up and watch each film so I can check the boxes with due process. This year’s Green Book is what film is all about; Vice—equally challenging and difficult to take in. Like our current shut down-joke of a democracy, these films shine a light on the parts of ourselves, our humanity that makes us squirm.
They teach us, separation is ultimately an illusion and this monster we hired for office is an expression of the voices we ignored, for the sake of reality TV ratings and piping hot lattes. Now, as the trash overflows in our state parks, we are faced with the truth of our system and the breakdown of a country we once were proud to be from.
It’s film that tells stories of redemption, depicting human flaws and the monsters within us all. We play characters that are not at all politically correct, or perfect, or appropriate. And that’s our job as actors, to find that sliver of humanity in the vilest of persons, and portray them. Teaching our selves and audience how to love more. That has always been our job. And I am proud each year to see so many of my colleagues do it so well—Mahershala Ali’s piano, Adam Driver’s Jew, Regina King’s Beale Street, and how about Christian Bale’s, Dick?
What is not part of our job is to remain safe, and palatable for all causes. It is not Kevin Hart’s job to never say a bad word, or Kevin Spacey’s to walk the straight line in his personal life so he can play nice for cable. Something has gone terribly wrong in my industry this year, in an effort to clean up our own acts we are in danger of not telling the story. And the story; is not always pretty. It’s certainly not politically correct and it can’t always be told with fifty percent of female voices.
Instead, ours is a job not many care to do. We spend years on theatre floors exploring the worst parts of our childhood to peel back evil characters so we can find the one common thread within to play them. So while I stand with my sisters, and no longer have to audition in a hotel room ever again, I do not stand by watering us all down to offend no one. I do not stand by our personal lives and opinions being turned into a campaign to replace us with edited versions of the diverse artists we are, that’s not our job.
A judge comes to mind as right for that task; or a school teacher leading our children to stronger ilk and kind beings, but us artists—we bleed for good reason. We joke and question and push because it helps us tell more stories. Fight more systems. I’m not okay with season six of The Ranch. And, I’m not okay without a host for this year’s Oscars in lieu of controversy.
The conversations are difficult and divided, and not easy to see all sides. But we have to keep having them. We have to hash out more details of this new consciousness, because we have to keep telling stories and shining light on human. And we can’t be censored. Art is truth, and truth is layered. Good and bad, and light and dark. Let’s keep talking…