the thinking evolves, too

before accolades were doled out as unceremoniously as they are now, when being a participant also implied the unspoken-but-known-about willingness to sacrifice short-term pleasures for long-term joys, the sought comfort of aloneness was often followed up with lively and candid interpersonal dissections and vibrant debates. whatever it was, we all knew that it took grit to be good at the thing you wanted, and the whole process, all that went into it, was more respected then. that we had attained some kind of education, regardless if it had been led by book smarts or street smarts, yet also partook in thoughtful consideration of current circumstances before making decisions, was par for the course. at the higher end of that food chain, though, as we rose in the ranks before stagnating unknowingly in mediocrity, some of us were grossly unaware as we slowly got bought. like live lobsters being boiled.

finger-pointing became another sword we soon also had to look out for and guard against as higher-up intellectual types set arbitrary conditions of popularity. those perspectives dictated the constructs of life, and we all became too aware and highly reactive. reputations became subject to others’ opinions as they had in junior high, and consequences of actions were no longer just an affliction faced by those whom we booked on talk shows. out of our control, the very personal soon became very public. those of us who grew up as adults in this business, who had been made acutely aware of the need for discretion, were pushed aside. a sea of unnecessary candor followed, and soon the emotional power of responses to unfiltered honesty, or the monies that came with it, to many became the primary motivation. a lot of falsehoods and created fears appeared as if from nowhere, and we all changed pretty drastically as we buttoned ourselves up and navigated the nuanced playing fields.

acclaim for achievements reeking of generic machismo were assumed to be internationally standard. and before we all feigned an understanding of politics, the realistic examples we faced in our daily lives sufficed for our applicable education on the subject. but instead of rising above the differences among us, collectively we got mired down by them. to play by the expanding cultural rules, organic things like gender took on a significance in places where they were rarely an existing problem, and the real life, innately humane treatment of people got ignored to accommodate by-the-book rules. none of us had or took the time to surmise who wrote them, but most of us diligently followed them anyway. like sheep.

there are always outliers, though, and in my experience, there is so much still to learn from the memories of them. gay friends who had for years remained corporately closeted quickly ascertained the benefits to be had by being out in fashion and entertainment circles. some of the earliest adopters of disobeying the status quo became quite successful as they brazenly followed their passions despite whatever pushback they got. quietly questioning folks took note, and the non-stated bisexuality and asexual motivations that existed among us became as commonplace as having a pet is now. none of those labels mattered, even as roles and the individual subtleties of the actors up to play them were picked apart ad nauseam.

outside of those work executions, no one cared. we knew we would all be affected somehow as the competition for inclusion became as narrow in the world of unpaid advertising as it has always been in casting. it’s just that more people were known to be involved as we earned or demanded titles. as our parents did from us so they could feel they did their due diligence to protect their understandings of the safety of our salaries. but the experiences we’d had told us differently. we’d witnessed shows about eccentric friends and their entourages be created, and in some cases, they became more realistic templates for how life worked. it’s just that both the maps and the legends are different than what we are taught sometimes and we had to relearn the necessary rules of engagement. what can at one time look to be opposite ideologies are in fact not always so, and despite the cookie-cutter logistical markers of semantic definitions, success looks and feels different to us all.

in the professional role i played in public relations, all walks of life were represented. from the big, open, kind hearts to those that had become blackened, all were welcomed. those in from the cold found a place of giddy warmth and ebullient patience as we tried to figure it out. life, our places in it. growing up, many of us were taught that california would fall into the ocean before now, while others grew up basking in all the seasons to be found in a day here. it takes years, sometimes generations, to see beyond the tangible. not be so literal all the time. and, sometimes by accident, we disjointedly showed one another what love looked like. how it isn’t one of the tangible things we could angle for, but regardless, how it is the most important. gossip outlets have always existed, but stories and sources at one time were harder to come by. and, presumably, like many before us, we slowly learned through trial and error that not everything is newsworthy. even if it dominates our days.

what still resonates years later is the personal work some did and are still doing. to be better humans, to function more suitably in general. to see everyone as peers, treat them as equals, whatever that setup looks like. something in us matches whatever we see that we both love and despise about another. all the qualities that we sense in others are borne of similarities in us somewhere, and in our unthought about efforts to commandeer them, or override them completely, sometimes we skip over that connective vibe. finding the roots of our triggers is important. avoiding sentiments because a word is off-putting is a ridiculous notion we’ve adopted that we all suffer for. while we all have expressions and concepts that rub us the wrong way, myself included, knowing the true crux of the demarcation is key to getting past them. looking at things with a critical eye is just the beginning, regardless whether they be personalities or foods. when we aren’t afraid of being misunderstood, and use uncomfortable moments as opportunities for enlightenment instead, as difficult as it may seem at the time, we see that it is all temporary. and eventually, that that too will pass.

before movies opened, despite our asked for holds and requested embargoes, reviews sometimes trickled out. who abided by them for insight was markedly telling. it was mostly done by those who thought they could spin something to make or protect a profit. but when some outside the industry took those opinionated cliff’s notes as bibles, winning over certain opinion generators became a necessary achievement. when using the internet as a destination was new, otherwise anti-social pajama people dominated the marketplace. and subsequently, they soon determined the fate of new entertainment fare.

as professional spin masters, at times we modified almost everything about ourselves, whatever was needed, to earn that approval. it was like a nightmare version of online dating. and considering few of us were successful at that, that we could mastermind parades of buoyant theatrical openings is a monumental feat. entrusting that job to minds that were happily single was perhaps our biggest mistake. even some of those among us who eventually got married maintained the professionally archaic mindset of a lone watcher, and didn’t take companions of any relation into much account. but if this international pandemic has veritably shown us anything, it is perhaps that such myopic thinking is no longer viable. that as we did when we were younger and newer, perhaps we need to relearn the rules of engagement. not simply apply our outdated thinking. encourage open minds. and like before, if we do, we will probably, hopefully, be better for it.

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