The Unmaking Of A Star
By now, you may very well have heard the most recent HalfCast where Jack and Ryan argue Tom Cruise’s merits with yours truly. One of my points in that argument discussion was how the public hasn’t gone in massive numbers to see many recent Tom Cruise movies with the exception of those in the Mission: Impossible franchise. This got me thinking about how the star power so many films’ expectations cling to may be a dwindling light these days.
To be fair, I’m not singling out Tom Cruise here. Yes, his Scientology proclamations and couch-jumping haven’t necessarily earned him raving fans but those elements don’t play into recent years as much as they once did. He is merely one of countless actors and actresses whose name alone could open a movie at number one. Yes, Ghost Protocol has raked in huge amounts of box office cash, but it’s also an established franchise, which gives people reason to see it. While Tom Cruise is in it, the stronger lure would be the big and loud action flick with a familiar name which translates into fun for the moviegoer. Hence, I don’t believe he’s not the draw for the movie. The same could be said for Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Everyone went to see all of those, but not everyone went to see every Johnny Depp movie in the last eight years. There’s something to be said for name recognition, but star power doesn’t seem to have the same impact it used to.
It’s not much of a surprise to see entertainment evolve this way. Perhaps it’s a good thing. Personally, I’m undecided about it. Yes, the world has flattened thanks to all of us being wired together through the internet and our mobile devices, so celebs seem more accessible and more human than they used to. Then again, the whole concept of celebrity has become so broad that anybody with the last name Kardashian can become famous for…uh…well, we still don’t know, do we? Oh yeah, a sex tape. That’s why. Anyway, between those high-end hos and trash like the cast of “Jersey Shore” and any teenage mother profiled on an MTV show becoming pop culture fodder, clearly the bar has been lowered. As far as movies go, fame is constantly in flux and no one seems to stay as the top star for too long. Maybe a year and half. Frankly, once you’ve shown up in so many commercials for upcoming movies which all look the same (I’m talking to you, Seth Rogen and Angelina Jolie), people may just stop caring because they’re tired of you, at least for now.
You can chalk up a decline in popularity for lead actors who once commanded the box office like Tom Hanks and Jimmy Carrey to just getting older or choosing less interesting work, but the fact remains that stars only have their power for a little while before it either fades or moves to someone else through cultural osmosis. How many can actually sustain a decade-long career as a leading star anyway? That’s where the fans come in. Hopefully, we all pick up some of those along the way who stick by us, between the ebbs and flows of success. Alas, those are the reasons everyone keeps at what they do, be it entertainment or otherwise.