ESSAYS, ARTICLES, & REVIEWS
TRUTH & LIES
I think I figured out the true paradox of Hollywood a long time ago, and it goes like this: to create good art you have to be able to recognize and portray the truth; to succeed in Hollywood you have to be a liar. How does one reconcile these opposite, yet intertwined, goals?
I can’t really answer that because I have not pulled off either one. I think I’m doing better, however, with the truth goal than the success goal.
I try to say exactly what I think as often as I can, and I am forever shocking people, including myself. But, as I often ask myself, why should one go around censoring themselves all the time?
Edgar Allen Poe was renowned in his day as the harshest critic in America. Did this have something to do with his ability to write so well? I’d say, absolutely.
The first piece that I wrote directly for this website was the "Saving Private Ryan" review, wherein I used the word "shit" more frequently than I ever have before or since in so short a space. When it was done, and I had attached it to an e-mail heading off to my intrepid webmaster and thus to be posted on the world wide
web, my finger paused ever so slightly over the send button. Did I actually want to be making so severe a statement against Steven Spielberg, the most successful
director living? Don’t I harbor some deep inner hope that he will executive produce a picture for me someday, but now, having read or heard of my scathing review of his film, he will have decided not to executive produce my picture. "Ah, fuck it!" I thought, my finger pushed send and off it went to the entire world, or, more specifically, to the 3500 people who have visited my site since August, 1998.
If I will censor myself then why should I expect anyone else to tell the truth? And since I actually do expect other people to tell the truth, how can I knowingly make myself a hypocrite?
Why advertise all this shit, you might ask? In regard to movies and stories, this is what I think about most of the time. I honestly believe that if more people were thinking about these things as much as I, things would get better. If some assistant of Spielberg’s reads my review of "Ryan" and tells him about it, maybe he too will give the idea of storytelling a bit more consideration. Not filmmaking, storytelling, because that’s where I think the system has broken down. Then again, perhaps he’ll hire hitmen and have me knocked off.
To be in a constant state of censorship is not only hypocritical, it’s also got to be nerve-wracking. More nerve-wracking, I would suspect, than the effort I’ve put into worrying about people hearing what I’ve said about them. Besides, anyone who knows me even a little knows who I am. I make no apologies to anyone. (As I reread this it sounds like "The Godfather.")
By the way, this little tirade was brought on by my having just returned from New Zealand in the past 12 hours (from having directed my seventh Xena episode), bopping onto the Xena website, and seeing a posting entitled, "LL & ROC not friends: J. Becker" ("LL" is Lucy Lawless and "ROC" is Renee O’Conner, by the by).
Someone wrote into my Q&A asking me if Lucy and Renee were "best friends." I wrote back saying that Lucy and Renee were not really "best friends," they were actually two friendly people that worked very well together for 12 hours a day, 10 months a year for 4 years now. However, every minute that they can possibly spend apart, they do. They call this time apart "their own lives." They don’t hang around together.
Lucy is married to my very good buddy Rob Tapert, executive producer and mastermind behind Xena, whom I’ve known for 25 years. Renee has a boyfriend, is a very private person, and lives a long way off somewhere in the jungle. (Note: Renee, I apologize again for not making your Halloween party.)
Hello Xena fans!!
This a TV show. We all do our very best to present high-quality entertainment to you (for free). You are certainly allowed to read into the show and the characters anything you’d like, with my blessing and encouragement. But it distresses me to have you people out there doubting my veracity.
I may not now nor ever will be a great director or a great writer, but for God’s sake I am trying to tell the truth.
Nov. 14, 1998