Forever fantasy was not so forever.
The early 1900s marked the beginning of flashing lights, engraved stars, and sidewalks lined with red carpet. Hollywood was based off the idea that through fantasy, people are then able to learn how to desire. In its early stages and expansion, builders were intentional with creating a fantastical aura, to drive people to this little enclave, going as far as changing and redeveloping the city’s landscapes. The original objective of Hollywood was to take individuals away from what was their current reality, and then placing them into a fake reality, so that they could be blinded from their own personal realities.
There are a lot of people out here in Los Angeles. Transplants. Natives. Go-getters. Dream chasers. And every person I’ve encountered has had their own different motivations as to why they have landed themselves in LA.
I met some girls the other day that had recently packed up their lives in a suitcase from another part of the country, and moved to the City of Angels. One was here to pursue modeling, the other wanted to become a stylist, and another whose dream was to design and run a fashion line. I loved hearing about their ambitions and seeing their smiles light up as they talked about their passions, and how they were going to make that happen. It honestly all sounded naïve and unrealistic, but there was something about their starry eyes and the ways that they were babbling on that left me intrigued and wanting to retreat into my own headspace to examine and think about the city I live in, this (music, arts, entertainment, fashion, film) “industry,” and how it has trickled into the little spaces of my life and still impacts me.
I have wanted to write about Hollywood for some time now, but could never put the right words onto paper. At the root of it all, I didn’t know what I wanted to say, probably because I have been and am still trying to sort out my thoughts about how I feel about it all. I wish I could say that I have it all figured out but the truth is… I don’t; I still swing back and forth with my feelings as I continue to experience and process.
There’s nitty and gritty, glam and glitz—but at the end of the day, it’s solely about your experience.
Seven years ago in college, it was obligatory for me to take a film and media class called “Hollywood on Hollywood” (to meet Film & Media Studies requirements). It was about deconstructing the ideas and images of what Hollywood has come to be known as, and how Hollywood is portrayed in the media, in movies, and in social spheres. Seven years ago for three years, I watched a lot of films, did a lot of research, and wrote one too many ten-page papers about “Hollywood and Image” and “How Hollywood Is Defined” and “Fantasy, Experience, and Mass Culture in Hollywood.” I would have strongly been persistent about my opinions and I would have told you that Hollywood is all one big fake social construction—that people create it, and the humans who live within it as well as everything about that place is entirely unreal.
People still socially construct Hollywood, but I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t make it unreal.
What was meant to become fantastical picture for society is now a realistic picture for many.
It is almost like a girl crushing on a boy, and she has these interactions with him. Maybe she created these scenarios in her head but her feelings are still her feelings, and they aren’t any less real even if the actual boyfriend-girlfriend relationship isn’t a thing. Perhaps that’s a terrible example and there are probably a thousand better metaphors, but what I’m getting at is that just because something isn’t real to someone, doesn’t mean it isn’t to another.
My realities are some peoples’ fantasies, and that’s a strange cup to swallow.
Sometimes I don’t know what to do with myself. Sometimes, I don’t know how to have conversations. It’s strange because in some weird way, sometimes my work is someone else’s playground. And, the peoples’ lives that much of the world finds entertaining, is not a form of entertainment for me at all.
For the longest time, I would tell people I wasn’t very fond of Hollywood. I’m still not in a lot of ways for various reasons, and I occasionally still roll my eyes or chuckle at the things that happen in this industry because it is pretty silly and ridiculous. But here I am swallowing those words about “how much I dislike Hollywood” whole because there are parts of it that I fully embrace. It has become very much part of my life in different ways (minus the crazy drama and Botox and obnoxious leopard print fur boots) and some of the best people I know live in this socially constructed world, and let me tell you… it is incredibly real.
It’s real when tabloids or media say something about someone, and the world suddenly bases their opinions off of false accusations. But you low key know that PR just wanted a story and to create some sort of buzz. After all, bad press is better than no press at all.
It’s real when you get a text message about someone you know dying from a gunshot at a VIP meet-and-greet because of a deranged fan. For the world, it’s just shocking news, with versions delivered on ABC and NBC and breaking news on channels. But she was also a friend and a sister and an influence to many. And you just think, this could have happened to any of us, any of my friends, or even me.
Seven years ago, I would have told you that movies are just movies. That, celebrities are just celebrities, and there was nothing real about any of it. Maybe at that time, in my research, I was more concerned about the business side of Hollywood. I looked more into the original intentions of generating such a place verses the humans that might one day occupy and live a life in it. I also never expected to share a part in it. I based everything off a skewed idea of what I thought Hollywood was, and never considered the relational and human side of things.
I guess that’s what we call growth. That’s what we call experience. That’s what we call authentic relationship and learning to love the people who surround you.
And in the same way, I’m grateful for where I am. I am grateful for all the hands that have encouraged and dreamed and supported me. I’m grateful for the hands that have gotten dirty and gritty with me as I grow and struggle, and continually get challenged by the things life presents—for unceasingly diving into the wreckages over and over and over.
It’s what moves hearts to fall open, it’s why we are able to find emptiness filled, brokenness repaired, and whatever lost… be found.