Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When I Grow Up

When we're kids, people ask us what we want to be when we grow up. It's more of a question of who we want to be than what we want to be; a who would be something like "a doctor" where a what would be "happy" or "wealthy." So as children, we look around for some identity we like or to which we can relate. When I was a kid I wanted to be an actress, specifically Jodie Foster. Of course, there was already a Jodie Foster but try telling a kid that.

I'm studying film history right now, and I'm finally realizing that people become who they with great influence by the conditions present in their lives and their time of success. For example, if Charlie Chaplin made his film shorts today, they might not fly off the shelves like the latest Jonas Brothers video. It's sad but it's true. The conditions present as Chaplin made his films were completely different from the conditions today. The Beatles sprung up from different conditions. If they arrived on the music scene today, they wouldn't have the same opportunities for greatness because the musical climate is different. The creative genius is still there, but the chance to demonstrate and nurture that genius would be totally different today.

If I had arrived in Hollywood in the 1910s, my career would be totally different. Of course, I wouldn't be able to vote but I might have my name in history books. Or if I started dancing in the 1940s or 1950s, I might have made enough to just do that and cover all my bills. But I live in the now so I have to make the most of it and not hold myself to unreasonable standards based on the successes of those who came before me. It's a bit liberating.

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