The life of an actor is really something under socialism.
Hollywood is so different. You wait tables, or jockey cars as a porter at a dealership, watching people with less talent than you grimace if you put too much ice in their water or leave a thumbprint on the Maserati door. Did they ever do a rap version of Hamlet? Did they have to perfect a Finnish accent for that Sundance entry two years ago?
Then, your agent calls you to let you know of an audition. You go, frantically terrified, and to your intense relief you land that part. Now you can pay your rent. And your agent tells you the fees are really good. You do your part, but the critics said you seemed wooden and better suited as a food server or a car porter. And then you find out the actor who played your character’s twin brother and had the same amount of lines got paid twice what you did.
But you battle harder, and this time you get picked up for a television series. Then a movie. Then you’re living in a nice home in the Hills, eating at that expensive place with the funny name. Now look at all the kids wanting to take selfies with you. You join social media and find you have thousands of followers overnight. Wow.
Then what happens? You get bad reviews, the calls stop coming, you grow a beard or get a crazy tattoo. Soon the house is up for sale, you’re showing your bare ass on Cinemax, and People mentions how old you look. Easy come, easy go. Except no restaurant or dealership wants to hire a 40-something. So you wind up doing minor roles for scale on Disney.
It’s so unfair. 12 years ago, you did Death of a Salesman as a musical, and although the critics hated it, you had to learn how to play a saxophone for that one solo. That, friends, is talent. Evidently, capitalism doesn’t care about that.
Gosh, socialism is so much better when you’re an actor. You don’t have to work as a waitress or car porter. Actually, you don’t need to do manual labor at all! The Bureau calls you and says you will report to a theater on Thursday. It’s a history, and you’re playing the part of the brave Uncle who points out where the capitalists are hiding in the barn. There’s no audition, no tryouts. You have the part, and even though the dialog is awful, it’s only 12 words. You deliver them (“Behold, comrades, the rats hide in the loft! Spare them no mercy.”) to absolutely thunderous applause.
Behold the newspapers the next day. The part of the Uncle was brilliantly and heroically played by you! Every night, and twice on Sunday, you deliver the same 12 words to the same thunderous applause. And every week, that paycheck comes in. Sure, it’s only enough for a one bedroom apartment on the outskirts of town, and you live with your sister, but there’s a chance you could qualify for a two-seat car in a couple years.
And remember that one night, where you said “Behave, comrades, the rats hide in the loft!” and how a critic in the paper said it was a weird line that made no sense? That’s the closest thing to a negative review ever, but you were delighted to see the critic was fired by the news bureau two days later. Maybe he was fired, or whatever, because he just disappeared, but so what? The next night, you got that thunderous applause again!
Then the Bureau calls and says you will report to a television studio on Tuesday. It’s a science-fiction show about time travel, and you go back in time to see minorities being whipped and beaten by capitalists. Awful stuff, and the actors playing the minorities are in heavy makeup because, for some reason, they can’t find any actual people of color in the land anymore. But whatever…you play Lieutenant Hyperdrive, who goes back to the 1950s to introduce socialism to the hedonistic people, and shoot them with your Tolerance-Ray. It doesn’t matter that it’s absolutely crap, and that the sets are cardboard, and the bad guy you killed is suddenly back alive and quoting Marx at the end, because the ratings are through the roof! In fact, viewership was 100%, which is incredible because nobody you know owns a television.
Yes, if you’re an actor…particularly an actor who’s faded, marginally skilled or experienced, or struggling to land a role…socialism is pretty cool. It’s so much better than actual work.