there are always stories beneath the stories

at first, most of the people who came to us already had long-standing public identities. that elements of it were in jeopardy was where we came in. cheating spouses, the driver or passenger in transportation mishaps. abating whatever clouds that cast shadows on parts of famous personas was our primary purpose. while identities had already been made, they weren’t always necessarily chosen, but for whatever reason in said famous person’s lair, they needed to be maintained. the visible misalignments could be staggering, the subtleties more so, but we continued on as if whatever disparities we saw were normal. perpetuated the normalcy of hiding problems, perceived or otherwise. but, it looks like the joke’s on us as it all comes out. and it is, in one way or another.

being found out for indiscretions of any kind was tantamount to eradication from that landscape, and the accompanying fear brought about all kinds of actions to distract from the momentarily detriments. if we knew then how few actually cared, things may have been done differently. but those who did were loudly vocal, and behind the scenes, the professional ramifications were often more harsh than they are now. the culture of cancellation was always looming over us all, and with it being more quiet, it oftentimes cut quite deep. many times it was deemed appropriate, at least financially, to be safe rather than sorry, so plans to publicize projects were executed accordingly. blemishes of all kinds were covered up and hidden. there are a lot of kinds of makeup artists.

when that paradigm shifted, though, the publicist role transformed. we went from masking torrid realities to finding opportunities to publicly celebrate them. hiding in plain sight was easier many times as fans cared less and less about the leaders in their entertainment circles. bottom lines took precedence as corporations became the more visible kings, and talent of all kinds was quickly pushed aside in lieu of a more generic and uniform salability.

presumably this was not the first time such a shift occurred, but those of us new to the game responded as daftly as youth who haven’t faced a war-time draft. maybe that mentality of innocence is what keeps us moving as a species, or what encourages new innovations to spring up, but suffice it to say, a lot gets lost in re-figuring out what we think we collectively don’t know. even if we think our role in all this is harmless, it turns out that it isn’t. the concept of a butterfly effect has implications far beyond what we saw on the big screen. and even that concept itself has likely been addressed many times before, but we aren’t apt to investigate further unless we are attracted by the bait. like fishing.

as with dating, we like what we like. we usually can’t explain it, and likability isn’t necessarily an immediate prerequisite. whatever spark that ignites is the result of a combination of invisible energies. the man who brought us mac products publicly orated that people don’t always know what they want. once they see it, there’s a better idea maybe, and he never relied on what the market research said. but his sentiment, too, was literalized. ones and zeros gave us a way to think we could analyze everything, but do we even know what we’re studying anymore?

test screenings were something that we knew happened, and until marketers orchestrated outcomes, didn’t attend. but soon the public faces changed, and who was playing the game became more obvious. we could tell who took orders. see who cared less about the impact of the product than getting to the next step. the landscape of creativity changed drastically as people saw the shelf life of iconic characters and for the first time had an ability to preserve them. actors proudly touted that they had become brands, and formed business entities. as more produced projects they were involved with, they used what they had learned from being inside the business so far and acted fast to protect their name sakes. their own personal ones, and crafted characters alike.

a man i worked with once told me that he liked talking to me about work dilemmas because i didn’t get paid more whatever he decided to do. he is one of the most real people i’ve ever known, and like me, doesn’t feel comfortable showboating either his failures or his successes. he’s had plenty of both, and if you get a moment to speak with him frankly, he candidly admits that he’s a work in progress. as we walked behind a stage somewhere nondescript once, he slowed. awe and curiosity brimming from his otherwise stoic visage, he murmured to himself that it was all happening. while i overheard him, the spoken awareness wasn’t for me. his dad was a preacher, so the words may not even have been his, either. life is far headier for me now, but who ever knows where the messages that stick really originate.

his tenacity and perseverance over the years has shown me the strength that we can all have, too. if you ask him, while there can be glorious perks to be found, his path to them has been not at all easy or soft. there are many days that this route is treacherous, and he has sacrificed a lot to be where he is. what got covered in interviews wasn’t the average superficial fluff, but he also didn’t add superfluous information. answered just the questions that were asked. until his recent special, his personal life was ignored as if he didn’t have one. but that i know better leads me to apply that aptitude to any statement i see from his cohorts.

the elements of any good story are the same, regardless of the subject. or subject matter. and that’s all we all are sometimes. there are a defined number of archetypes for humans, and while we are all vastly unique, there is far more that is the same between us. it is only by our unions that change is made. we get to learn from everyone, but pairings showcase our personalities. individualities. obstacles get overcome as they impair coalescence. smiles erupt as insides get tweaked from the outside. so there’s still a tremendous amount to take in. when we are ourselves, at least.

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