I was born in LA.
I didn’t move here to pursue a dream. I’m not a waitress waiting to be discovered. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t think of this place as the center of the movie industry.
To me, Los Angeles is just home.
Recently, I watched a music video for a song called “The City of Angels”, by 30 Seconds to Mars. I think I’ve heard the song in passing a few times before this, and it never really struck any kind of chord with me. I probably even vaguely noted that it was most likely another one of those homage-to-LA songs without really having to stop to listen to it. There are plenty of those, at least a third of which being written by the Chili Peppers, and the rest being divided up between Sublime, West Coast rappers, and maybe Greenday, I don’t know. The point is, I’ve heard the “I love you in spite of your imperfections, LA” song. We all have.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the city, too… In fact, I ironically even happen to love it in spite of its flaws. That’s all well and good, and if someone wants to write a song reflecting those well meaning if clichéd feelings, I’m all for it. At the very least, not listening to music I don’t like has always been a relatively easy task for me.
But then, there’s this “music video” (an 11 minute long movie patting Hollywood on its back), and what I don’t understand, is the near complete lack of representation from anyone who actually lives here (outside of the bad Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson impersonators, of course, but you’ll forgive me if I feel that those don’t exactly count). Was this video supposed to tear me up with pride? It wasn’t even talking to or about people like me. The super rich and famous experience a part of this place that is so completely removed from what the majority of us will experience that, for all intents and purposes, they are talking about a different world.
Of course, having said all that, I might be remiss if I didn’t at least mention that, yeah… the video did almost, almost, choke me up a little. Which is irritating and, I imagine, as confusing to you as it was to me.
Perhaps getting emotional is the kneejerk reaction of being proud to see someone praise something I love. Maybe, in some weird way, I feel a kind of lame kinship with anyone willing to claim my city as his own. However, I don’t appreciate the glaringly obvious acting for the camera with such gems as Ashley Olsen’s “Fame is an illusion,” and Lindsay Lohan’s pregnant pause before stating “No one’s perfect.”
Really? I mean… really?
Also… I’m pretty sure that Ashley Olsen lives in New York. Why does she even get a say?
In any case, the video isn’t really the problem. Even the commercial for California is laden with shots of celebrities doing very out of the ordinary things. The Olsen twin was wrong. Fame is real. Hollywood is an illusion. Now, before you go and roll your eyes at that particular bit of absurdity, I don’t mean Hollywood the town; I mean Hollywood the idea. There is an image of LA that is perpetuated by the media and by those who have come here to “live the dream”, and that’s kind of all people see. They see the so-called glitz and glamour, and what’s more, they see a culture of superficiality.
No one sees me getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get to work on time. No one sees my fiancé wading through traffic for 3 hours a day. No one sees the first dates, or the broken hearts, or the skinned knees, or the high school graduations, or the birthday parties at the park, or the beach picnics, or… well, any of it. And as much as I’d love Olivia Wilde’s view of LA as “the promised land” to have anything to do with me, it doesn’t. And, unless you’re one of the very few extremely lucky people, it doesn’t have anything to do with you either. That place, Olivia Wilde’s Promised Land, doesn’t really exist.
LA is just a place where people live. Hollywood, however, is somewhere over the rainbow, where much different rules apply.
I’m not saying the spray tans and fake body parts don’t run rampant here, but I am saying there’s a lot more to The City of Angels than the Hollywood sign and Sunset Boulevard.
Disneyland, for instance.