We’ve all heard of celebrities who get let off the hook for traffic violations and other petty offenses, but they can get away with more than crime if they’re good-looking. How many attractive performers with unremarkable talent have skyrocketed to fame while their less attractive, more talented counterparts lag behind? I won’t name names here, but we all know of someone who fits the bill.
Sales careers, specifically for women, depend highly on a person’s physical attractiveness. Let’s set aside the fact that the definition of “attractive” is highly subjective and fluid—whatever it means to be “attractive” is evidently of vital importance to women seeking careers in sales. Or really, any career where they are performing for a visual audience. Like acting.
Money, connections, family, willingness to kiss up to people in power… and oh yeah, the hotness factor. Often the hotness factor and the kiss-up factor go hand-in-hand in very unfortunate ways. But being attractive in Hollywood can buy you more than acting contracts—it can buy you an audience for even the dumbest movies out there!
Again, we encounter obscure territory, since the definition of a “dumb” movie is bound to be quite subjective. For the sake of this discussion, let’s define it as a movie that lacks one or both of the fundamental pillars of storytelling: plot development and character development. A storyline whose exposition, inciting incident, rising action, falling action, and denouement do not fit together will be lacking in the plot category. A story whose characters undergo no challenges, personal dilemmas, conflicts, and who have no clear goal will be lacking in the character category. The worst films are lacking in both.
And yet even the worst films have those faithful audience members who will watch if only to see their Hollywood crush waltzing across the screen. What does this prove?
For some people, a cast of attractive actors may be enough to hold their attention. This does not mean that all these actors bring to the film is a pretty face or nice jawline. No doubt some extremely talented actors end up in sub-par films, and although they play their role fabulously, the script is still insipid. Vapid. Asinine. (Yes, these are all synonyms for “stupid.”) They may know it and the audience may know it, but there will still be those who endure the vacuous plotline simply because they enjoy watching pretty faces and sculpted biceps. To each their own!
And so now, in the spirit of being inquisitive, I would like to know whether you are one such an audience member.
I have sat through many movies that I either saw as sub-par at the time or came to view that way after the fact. The reasons are several. One, actors are attractive to me generally for reasons beyond their surfaces. I may find an actor attractive for his or her apparent intelligence, style, ability to create something out of nothing, or ability to make a distinctly unlikable character sympathetic. The latter is a great gift, a distinct mark of the actor’s talent and depth. I might watch a film (and I do not really feel comfortable naming it now, as I may change my mind later), as I recently did, in which I found no one to care about. This was, I think, a fault in the writing as well as in the directing;; nonetheless, the performances seared themselves onto my brain. Why? Guts. I perceived several of the cast leaving their comfort zones behind; others simply excelled in doing what they do best. I was captivated by the achievement, while not whelmed by the movie overall. The individual parts where greater than their sum.
Secondly, actors can be attractive for making me believe they are beautiful or handsome when I can see they actually are not.particularly so. I root for them, bleed for them, am captivated by their stories, their objectives. Many of the characters in Hell on Wheels (Netflix), upon which I unapologetically binged, were not at all attractive to me except through the manner in which they tackled their challenges. Whether they failed utterly or succeeded made no difference to me, as long as they pushed themselves beyond their self-perceived limits.
Third, actors are attractive to me because, yes, doggone it, they are just so mysteriously compelling I cannot help myself..I will give them the benefit of the doubt at least once. If, however, their gifts as actors do not measure up to their physical endowments, I will be perfectly happy to see their faces on a billboard or in a magazine.
Finally, there is a catchall category for actors who hit and miss. I do not feel guilty not liking a film or their performances in it, and I look forward to seeing them on the screen in the future. If that makes me fickle, I accept the label. I would say, though, that I am fickle in a tolerant way. I can be won back to the fold, always knowing I have the freedom and responsibility to myself to exit again when it seems sensible … or when I fall asleep.
Very true about the different kinds of attractive power an actor can have! There are definitely some I can think of who, although not conventionally viewed as “good-looking,” dominate the screen. And as you say, that can take an incredible amount of guts! I love seeing actors who can portray vastly different types of characters. Some are good at playing a certain “type,” but after seeing them in that sort of role enough times, I begin to wonder if their main selling point isn’t their good looks and ability to capture a limited range of human expression. One actor I love for his versatility is Geoffrey Rush. He has such a variety of roles, and yet plays them so compellingly that I feel like he steals the show in almost every film.
I never understood that. It’s the case for both genders, I find – men will watch movies for the attractive women, and women will salivate over attractive men on screen. I might look into a movie because it has a good cast (known as great actors from previous movies I’ve enjoyed), never because of their appearance.
Yes, a powerful actor can be reason enough for me to want to see a movie. Sometimes seeing the chemistry between certain actors makes an otherwise poorly written film surprisingly interesting to me– regardless of what the people on the screen look like.