Sanity in Hollywood courtesy of Robert Downey Jr.
As one of my favorite Kahlil Gibran quotes goes, “Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. The selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
Perhaps Robert Downey Jr.’s problems with drug addiction and the law put him in a place where he too might appreciate Gibran’s quote. As exhibit A, check out what he said about the premier of his new film Iron Man 2 being moved from London to LA: “I love the idea of someone taking the volcano personally. I know that would be a very Hollywood actor ego thing to do. But I didn’t. I’m too well psychologically, I’m afraid.”
Too well. I’m afraid.
Hollywood’s gossip mill, actually, all of Western celebrity culture, runs on the psychologically un-well. Lindsey Lohan’s run-ins with the law for DUIs and her unlikely stories about sobreity; freak of nature “Octomom” in photo shoots for her octuplets 1st birthday (a bizarre sight); Tiger Woods’ evident issue with monogamy and forthrightness; the more sleazy and twisted, the better for our bottomless appetite for other’s misfortunes.
Exhibit B. On the idea of a “comeback,” Robert Downey Jr. speaks on fellow actor Mickey Rourke, who was also slapped with the “comeback” label by Hollywood: “He is a very emotive guy who’s lived a lot of life. I don’t get the comeback thing. People sometimes get sick and separate from the pack and get better and turn into something else. It’s just evolution. Or, they die in the river. It’s no mystery.”
Separate from the pack. Turn into something else. It’s just evolution. No mystery.
This is the kind of sanguine talk that ought to be what role models are made of. Instead we have attention-starved, drug fueled starlets and starlots plastering the check out aisles at supermarkets.
Sounds like Robert Downey Jr. has definitely learned from the difficulties in his life. He sounds a bit Buddhist, like he used things falling apart as perfect teachers for his personal, spiritual growth.
Hollywood has so many troubled people — rich, ubiquitous and gorgeous, but troubled — that this sort of talk could actually lead to more inner reflection in the general public instead of the the messages typically emerging from Hollywood: cookie-cutter lifestyles marked by excessive consumption, attention-seeking behavior that is usually self-destructive, and relationships that combust as quickly as they sparked, likely driven by a potent fuel of lust, ego, and dependency.