It’s Not Love, It’s Respect

Now that the Oscar hoopla has died down, it’s time to go back into the archives for today’s entry.  This is yet another rejected piece that has never been seen before.  Here’s the story behind it.
From time to time, I had been submitting (in vain, I might add) pieces for the New York Times Op-Ed page.  Because every single one was turned away, I decided to employ a different strategy.  Figuring every one of them was too long, I tried something shorter.  This piece you’re about to read, called It’s Not Love, It’s Respect, is well under 500 words.  I like it.  I think I make a good argument here, but, once again, no dice.  The Times never responded to the submission and it’s been waiting patiently on my hard drive for its release ever since.
This is from last year and was written rather quickly which is always a great thing for a writer, like myself, who obsessively hems and haws over every line, word and syllable I type on the screen.   It’s self-explanatory and here it is:
By Dennis Earl

Samuel L. Jackson might be the only actor who gets it. Thanks to his tremendous success in the movie business, he has a famous face and gets approached quite a bit by his fans. In between having to recite the Ezekiel speech from Pulp Fiction and being mistaken for fellow thespian Laurence Fishburne, he is told time and time again that he is well loved by these devoted fans. It is at that point that he corrects them by saying, “You don’t love me, you love my work.”

And he should be commended for saying that because he’s absolutely right.

One of the biggest reasons actors and other creative types lose their way is because they mistake respect from the audience for love. And when they’re associated with something stinky or artistically pungent, shall we say, and the audience despises their work within that project, there is an undeniable sense of rejection. It’s not just a stain on a performer’s career, it’s a personal affront. And that’s silly. If these people weren’t in the entertainment business, no one would give them a first thought, let alone a second one. We’re not rejecting their humanity, we’re rejecting their artistry.

Ever notice during an awards show on Television how some fool from the audience always lets out an “I love you” to the famous person on stage and how that same famous person always says, “I love you, too” right back to them? I’ve never understood that. When the celebrity uses those exact words – I love you, too – it further encourages these crazy fans to express their appreciation for good work the wrong way. Like Mr. Jackson says, it’s not love, it’s respect.

The “relationship” between the fan and the celebrity is like the “relationship” between a salesman and his/her customer. It’s never about the love, it’s all about paying for someone’s talent. That’s it. Nothing more.

If these weren’t creative people who birthed something that made you dance, laugh, cry or sing along, you wouldn’t waste so much valuable time falling in love with them and saying silly things to them in person. Or even worse, putting it in writing in much greater detail and sending it to them. And celebrities know more than anyone how delusional those superfans can get. (Can you say, “stalker”? I knew you could.)

Mr. Jackson has a great quote along these lines. Let me share it with you:

“I’m actually very ordinary, except people get to pay their money to come watch me work. The same way that we go to McDonald’s…we don’t care about the guy behind the counter, but if he was doing something special, we’d pay our money to go watch him cook that hamburger.”


Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
7:06 p.m.

Published in: on March 8, 2006 at 7:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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