Let me start by saying that I have no clue why I am sitting here writing this article about why stars and celebrities ruin movies. I do not claim any expertise, special insight, or wisdom about movies, cinema, or story telling of any sort. What I do claim to have is a thought provoking opinion about movies and I’ve simply come to the conclusion that stars and celebrities ruin them and decided I should write down why.
A movie is a visual expression of a story with characters played by actors and actresses. When we look through the prism of cinema utilizing recognizable stars and celebrities, we find these stories inevitably tainted, and more often than not, ruined.
When watching a film with stars and celebrities you are familiar with, your brain never fully divorces itself from the knowledge that you recognize these people. It’s impossible to do. Try to not think of a pink elephant; you can’t do it. Since your brain can’t help but recognize these stars and celebrities as real people, your brain can only understand the story through what I call a star and celebrity ‘fog’ which blocks from full view the story itself, the same way fog occasionally blocks the full beauty of San Francisco.
When you read a book on the other hand, your mind creates a mental picture of the characters that you refer to as you read the book. The characters created in your mind are original to you and your brain. You do not read a book and represent the characters contained in that story with stars or celebrities that you are familiar with. You create an original picture in your mind that keeps the story front and center in your psyche. It’s why movies based on books are never, ever as good as the books they are based on.
Think about it.
Watch a movie in which you recognize none of the actors or actresses, perhaps an independent or foreign film. What happens? You’re mind accepts these people as being the actual characters in the story. Instead of judging how well the actors or actresses are performing, you judge the story itself because you do not know who these people are and good actors frankly, are a dime a dozen. Go eat at a Los Angeles restaurant for proof.
To those who might argue that some actors and actresses are supremely talented and can transcend the star and celebrity ‘fog’ I am referring to, I would offer this: you come across great actors and actresses every day that you walk out your front door. They are at work, in the clubs, in line, at the store, in the gym, and everywhere else you go. We’re all actors and actresses. Do not let the countless and never ending award ceremonies, magazines, and entertainment shows hypnotize you into believing that stars and celebrities possess skills and talents above and beyond those possessed by the real life actors and actresses we encounter every day of our lives.
I can only hope for one thing. As Hollywood continues to push out unoriginal, repetitive, story-lacking crap, infected with the latest pretty, ugly, or fat actor or actress, I hope that someone will start a new kind of movie studio where only no-name, unrecognizable actors and actresses will be hired to do a single movie, that tells a great story, unburdened by the star and celebrity ‘fog’.
When movies become more like books in this way, only then will we truly see movies realize their full story telling potential.