The skinny on the industry

28 Aug

I have two friends right now that are trying to lose weight solely–or at least primarily–to get more gigs. Not like it hasn’t been hashed to death since the beginning of time, but I can’t help pointing out the obvious non sequiter between weight and talent.
Yes, yes, this is a visual industry, your looks are part of your business assets, blah blah blah. Ever noticed that the first people to point this out are ex-fattys that went through physical and emotional hell to loose the weight, and want other people to live through hell too? Obesity is practically an epidemic in the US, it’s true, but I’m willing to bet the part of the population that’s in the entertainment industry doesn’t average particularly high on the BMI scale.

Obviously you should take care in the way you look, particularly when making a first impression, and you should be in fine enough shape to endure whatever physical hardships your genre of choice dicatates. The importance of good hygeine cannot be overemphasized. It’s true too that audiences have appreciated a pretty face and form since the days of Euripedes. But it seems that appreciation has warped in our generation; attractiveness doesn’t enhance talent, it equates talent.

And this isn’t just in the film industry, although I still think it’s the biggest culprit. All one has to do is remember the bruhaha over Jennifer Love Hewitt’s bikini pictures a couple years ago for proof of that. I blame “reality” TV for transferring the obsession from Hollywood to Main Street, but it’s not just the Jones’ that are capitulating to the demands of a media-saturated minority. After those photos leaked, JLH didn’t waste any time dropping 20+ pounds off her size 2 frame with four-hour private training sessions, did she? While wildly denying her motives were anything but living a healthier lifestyle? The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

But like I said, we expect that from Hollywood, which has been slowly deteriorating from a rare vintage to a bone-dry extra-hot skinny latte since the post-war era. Now it’s leaking into live theatre as well. My two friends are gorgeous girls with amazing talent, but they think that’s essentially moot if they don’t loose twenty pounds. And before you cry shrink, this is coming from the people around them supporting their careers, not their own insecurities. Hello, Dance: 10 Looks: 3–I’d have to pull my socks off to tell you how many people I know that have been told they were first choice for a part talent-wise, but lost it to someone more closely resembling Megan Fox. I’m talking legit soprano roles too, not Transformers 3. If it’s not over till the fat lady sings, we’re all going to be here for a long, long time.

There’s alot more to proper physicality than being merely pleasing to the eye. Why isn’t the focus on the wonderful things the body allows us to do? The soft palate lifting elegantly to support a singer’s high note, the muscles of an actor’s face subtlely shifting to convey every shade of emotion, the legs and back stolidly supporting us through a 10 out of 12 tech rehearsal.
If the human body is an integral part of the art, maybe we should start treating it as such.

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