So I was wandering down memory lane just now – about when the internet was fresh and new, and when I was on AOL as my only ISP. It was a time of excitement on the new world wide web and the beginning of the information age. AOL offered a feature back then (and they may still do, I don’t know) that was thrilling for me – an avid tv/movie addict. They brought in actors and actresses from movies and TV from shows I loved to watch – over and over again.
I remember being so excited when Ray Walston was to appear, the man from one of my favorite childhood shows, My Favorite Martian. Of course Ray was known for many other shows as well , but for me, he was and will always be, Uncle Martin. I sat at my computer, avidly watching the questions and answers roll by and Mr. Walston told his story as an actor, and some of his favorite moments in television.
Then he said something that broke my heart.
He said he regretted his role as Uncle Martin.
I was devastated. It was like the floor opened up and dropped me through. How could he dislike what he did with one of my favorite shows of all time? Ray believed the role typecast him, and he couldn’t move forward, yet when looking at Mr. Walston’s career, I so no indication of that. One thing Ray forgot – his audience. As his audience, I think I actually had tears in my eyes.
Then I heard Harrison Ford regretted having done Star wars. Odd because I didn’t hear him say he regretted his Indiana Jones persona, and it was very similar, just in a different time frame. Star Wars virtually launched him from TV guest star to World renowned movie star. How could he regret the part?
It’s odd to me when someone who does something so spectacular that they are remembered for it forty and thirty years later, that they wish they hadn’t done it. It’s as if they don’t understand or respect their fans. Walston did not realize that while yes, people remembered him as Uncle Martin, they were quick to watch everything else he did, because he helped guide their childhood. In his individualistic, yet funny way, he taught lessons to me that I’m sure guide me today. In essence, he educated an entire generation of children on right and wrong. On the importance of trust and friendship.
And Harrison Ford, he brought us to believe in something more. In the belief that if you reach for the stars, and believe in something bigger than yourself, you can find redemption.
Often, people are too quick to judge what is “good” and what is “not”. Fiction is entertainment. Every work of fiction has some underlying message, even if the author doesn’t realize it. Fiction is Literature. ALL fiction is literature. And whether it’s translated to the big screen or the small, it’s still something with a message. Both Authors and actors share something in common – we translate that message into something the audience enjoys. We don’t have to write huge 300 page books of “Literature” to have a message to get across. Just as actors don’t have to have high tech gadgets and special affects. If it’s not there, that’s good – it shows there’s more meat in what the audience sees, and less distraction.
Just like how these actors feel about their roles is how many authors feel about romance. People claim it has no substance. HA. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Romance has a message. And no, it’s not that love conquers all. It’s that love helps us through the tough times. It’s that love can make us stronger than we were when we didn’t love. There’s alot more in those pages than you think. There’s stories of people who have suffered, and unlike the “Classical tragedies”, they learn from them, and they overcome. They learn that working together is more important than being alone. It’s not about saying “I’m incomplete because I don’t have a husband or wife”, it’s about understanding the heart, and not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
Like My Favorite Martian.
Like Han Solo.
So the next time you start to say that what you read or write is trivial and not important, think about My Favorite Martian – His lessons to me were more important than his work on Picket Fences as a judge, or even Mr. Applegate in Damn Yankees. Look deeper within – find the message that works for you. Just because someone doesn’t want to call literature literature, is not our fault. :)