The death of Corey Haim (alav hashalom) is an example not only of another child star died young and broke and miserable. And also not only of the perils of addiction. He also spent his adult life trying to break back into acting or music or entertainment, and was unsuccessful.
During these most recent Oscars, winners felt compelled to send a message, the same message they send every year. The winner, clutching his statuette, having thanked his agent and his lawyer and his director and so on, says, "I had a dream, and now I'm standing here. And let this [wielding Oscar vigorously] show you that you should never give up on your dreams. All of you people out there who want to do something creative, don't let anyone tell you that you can't do it. You dream that dream!" Or something like that.
Most people, however, really should not dream that dream. And maybe Haim isn't the best example, because his situation is indeed complicated by the success he once had attained and by addiction. But we should not, in good conscience, be telling people to pursue a career in the creative arts despite discouragement. Anyone who happens to succeed in the creative arts may well have some combination of looks or talent, but there are many many more who are good-looking or talented who have not succeeded. If one is a success, one has had a considerable amount of luck. The vast majority of people who attempt a career in the arts are failures. We have to stop romanticizing it. If they have not planned a back-up career, they could be forever robbed, not only of financial security, but success in some other endeavor. I know too many people who have kept trying and trying to break into a creative field, only to end up broke and rootless and laboring under the belief that any other career option is a sell-out or not worth doing. It isn't pretty.
If one watches any reality TV whatsoever, one realizes that there is a slew of talentless people out there who have taken this Oscar message to heart. They refuse to acknowledge any criticism of their work. When they are kicked off, they look steadily at the camera, chin quivering, and say, "I won't let this discourage me. I'm going to keep going. And you'll see my stuff out there!" Our culture practically dictates that line for them. And, of course, we never have seen their stuff. Because the people criticizing them were right.
Of course, one shouldn't take one or two nasty comments amiss. But prima facie people should be discouraged from such a career, and they should indeed realized that if they are repeatedly told they have no talent or are no good for this career, that probably is the case.
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