When I was a kid my parents were convinced that Hollywood was an immoral place, that actors and other industry members lived an immoral lifestyle and that movies corrupted the values of society.
Perhaps they were right.
My mother tells the story of the day her parents had their first television set delivered and she sat on the front steps and refused to come in as an act of protest. By the time she married and had children her stand on television had relaxed a bit. We munched popcorn while watching Hockey Night in Canada, Tommy Hunter, and Don Messer’s Jubilee as a family on Saturday nights.
Movies on the other hand were strictly forbidden. I remember my brother Merv getting in trouble when he went to the Santa Clause parade and followed the other kids to a party that took place at the local movie theatre and included the showing of a Disney cartoon.
The line on live theatre was not quite so clearly drawn. They saw that I had talent and encouraged it, putting aside money for voice lessons even when the budget was tight. I performed in public school operettas and church dramas and they were proud when I won prizes at festivals. When our high school class volunteered to help restore the Shea’s Buffalo Theatre and usher for performances by Cab Calloway and George Burns, my mother struggled with her conscience but ultimately did not stand in my way.
On the other hand I was pulled from a role in a grade nine production of My Fair Lady because the director refused to change Professor Higgins’ DAMN to DARN. And when my home staged plays got a bit too racy my parents didn’t spare the rod of correction.
I was exempted from all gym classes where dancing was involved and sat on the stage in my ugly blue gym suit while the rest of the class did the Hokey Pokey. But I received a biography of great dancers called To Dance, To Dream for Christmas and, if I was kept from the one, I did a lot of the other.
I share this family history so you will know where I come from and how unreal it seems to me that at 53 years old I am learning to be a filmmaker and about to produce my first web series. It may also provide some insight into the inner struggle I felt this week over supporting a fundraising campaign for my classmate’s new series called Pornstar.
I’ve been torn between wanting to support a friend and not wanting to glamorize an industry that I think is rather sad. But mostly I kept thinking it’s a good thing my mother is alive and well or she would be turning over in her grave. And being very grateful she’s not a facebook friend. So Mom, if you’re reading this blog would you please be so kind as to pretend you never did and not mention it the next time we speak.
Some of you may be surprised that an otherwise independent woman of 53 still worries about what her mother thinks. All I have to say to you is that you’ve never encountered mine.
Three morals in the story,
1. For better or worse, mothers cast long shadows across their children’s lives.
2. It may be that Hollywood is an immoral place, filled with immoral people, who corrupt the values of society.
3. But my little corner of the performing world is filled with love and empathy and motivated by a desire to tell true stories that bring us all a little closer together by tearing down walls of prejudice and isolation.
Yours with creativity and imagination,
p.s. Pornstar promises to be funny, gritty and moving. Check out the teaser and then donate what you can to support my friend Sam’s dream and help this series get made.