Power, Money, Deals, Drugs & Bimbos

October 1999By Wayne Lela

Wayne Lela is a member of the Committee on Family and Social Health, a group of writers and activists in the Chicago area. Copyright © 1999 Wayne Lela.

Actors and actresses and comedians and comediennes have exerted enormous influence over this society via TV and cinema. What kind of people are they who are exerting that influence? A little reading in the popular press suggests that they are the unstable denizens of an unhappy town, a Hollywood where drug use, trading sexual favors, and mental illness are common.

Various entertainment writers have drawn attention to the widespread use of illegal drugs in Hollywood. For example:

(1) Roger Ebert: "Half the people in Hollywood seem to have gone through recovery from drugs and alcohol by now [1990]."1

(2) Jorge Casuso: "During the freewheeling '70s, Hollywood seemed to be riding a coke-induced high. On screen, recreational drugs were the props of the glamorous…[or] they were psychedelic aids in the search for Truth…. Off-screen, drugs were part of the Hollywood mystique, seemingly taken as casually as a cocktail. Business deals were cut over vials of cocaine."2

(3) Michael Kilian: "Hollywood was notorious [this said in 1984] for its nonchalantly open use of the drug [cocaine] by celebrities."3

(4) Clarence Petersen wrote in 1992: Hollywood is "a mean town, run by weird men (mostly) addicted to power, money, deals, drugs, and bimbos."4

(5) Walter Scott: "A knowledgeable studio executive tells Parade [magazine in 1996] that drug use is as big -- or bigger -- than ever in the movie capital [Hollywood]."5

(6) Hilary de Vries, in 1998, noted "Hollywood's renewed use of drugs."6

(7) And film critic Michael Wilmington, in 1998, similarly observed that "a sort of heroin/cocaine chic exists in today's Hollywood."7

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First of all, I agree totally with the general premise of the article. I can't say I agree with the implied criticism of the principle that states that suffering translates to greater art. Not that we have to cause ourselves suffering--life has plenty in store for us. But some of the greatest art has directly come about by channeling severe angst into the artist's craft. For starters, read the lives of Beethoven, Berlioz, and Bach. Posted by: charlesh
August 15, 2006 11:22 AM EDT
I think perhaps was not criticism of the art which results from angst, but of holding the artist in esteem outside of the realm of his art. Also, the manifestation of this angst did not convey any moral decadance, that may or may not have been that particular artist's problem. Posted by: mightyduk
August 15, 2006 03:35 PM EDT
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