Friday, June 1, 2012

A little light culture: Pornstar!

Have you ever noticed how everyone in porn is a "pornstar"?  As of this morning, Google gets more than one and half billion hits for "pornstar". The more grammatically correct "porn star" gets 88 million hits. "Porn actor" gets only one and half million.

Well, you'd hardly call it acting. On the other hand, most pornstars are complete non-entities and not stars. Even the biggest porn stars, if you'll pardon the expression, are small change. One of these non-entities, as you have no doubt heard, has committed a grisly crime. The Washington Post probably made the little creep's day with this headline
French police hunt porn star suspected in Canada dismembered body case
Here in Canada the media also dutifully called him a porn star for the first few days. Why? Because that is what he'd called himself. He's been in porn. He's also worked as a model, a stripper, a prostitute and he's been a con man (but I repeat myself). Mostly he has been really, really desperate for fame all his life.

Which brings me to Blake Lively.

I know, that is sort of not fair as she hasn't killed and dismembered anyone and never will do such a thing. But bear with me because the question of who? and what? exactly she is is just as muddled as it is for our weirdo killer guy. She certainly dresses like a porn star or, rather, dresses the way porn stars would if they had a lot more money but no more taste.

So consider this lead:
Blake Lively is getting ready to say goodbye to Gossip Girl, the show that made her a star.
If you were a certain sort of person, and Blake Lively is, you'd rather that read,
Blake Lively is getting ready to say goodbye to Gossip Girl, the show she made famous.
More unfairness? I don't think so when I read this:
And as an actor who plays a caricature of myself on the show, I don’t think I’d say, 'Watch Gossip Girl for my best quality of work.' But I am very lucky to have had that experience.*
Plays a caricature of herself? That's not true. The character was created by a writer first, then made into a TV and Lively was cast for the part. That's also sort of backwards. Lively tends to be more of a caricature in real life and a more convincing character on screen. She doesn't dissolve completely the way our murderous "pornstar" does but she loses a lot in the process.

I am already on record as something of a fan of Serena van der Woodsen. It's not that she has the greatest character in the history of the world but, being a character, she actually has to have character.

Porn stars OTOH are ... well, have you ever seen porn? Even in the early days when porn tended to have plots, they didn't have much character. You'd have a star, lets call her Emmanuelle, who wants adventure and so she wanders through a series of sexual encounters with different men. Nowadays, celebrities are all like that right down to the "leaked" sex tapes and "hacked" nude smartphone photos that show up with increasingly predictability.

Serena van der Woodsen was created before anyone had ever heard of Blake Lively and if Blake Lively is remembered longer than the period her breasts remain firm enough for her to keep wearing the clothes she does it will be solely because she once played Serena on a TV show. And that has to hurt if you're Blake Lively.

But consider what it took to create Serena. A writer had to sketch out her character and that character had to be good because that is really all she has got. Off the page, she doesn't exist. That character had to have moral purpose and moral coherence. A celebrity flitting from party to party doesn't need any more character than a porn star flitting from sex scene to sex scene. All she needs is a body.

Character is something worth having and you can learn a lot about character by studying characters and very little by studying the actor who plays them. Yes, I've said that before and I'm sure I'll say it again.

* I got the lead and the quote from a local giveaway paper called Ottawa Metro. The quote however is everywhere and may even be in Blake Lively's press kit too.

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