Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Scarlett Johansson has nothing on Dave Bidini: (Or Why Everyone Wants To Be Someone Else)

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Scarlett Johansson has nothing on Dave Bidini: (Or Why Everyone Wants To Be Someone Else)

Scarlett Johansson, a beautiful and talented young actress (just see Lost in Translation if you forget), recorded an album a couple of years ago that was pretty bad to put it mildly. It was called Anywhere I Lay My Head, and the reviews were as mixed as my Shih-Tzu-Terrier-Poodle-Maltese named Rascal.

Kevin Costner looks like a bad actor playing a bad country singer every time he croons with his band Modern West.

Billy Bob Thornton revealed himself in all his assness when Jiam Ghomeshi didn’t treat him like Bob frickin’ Dylan by daring to ask about his so-called acting career.

And don’t even get me started on the utter ridiculousness of hotel-phone-throwing Russell Crowe and his obsession with being a musician when he’s not wearing stubble in a movie. What’s his band called again, Forty Year Old Guys Grunting?

Not one of these guys can carry a tune to save themselves. And yet … and yet they’re out there on the road and in record stores. Well, not in record stores because there are no record stores anymore, but you know what I mean.

Sean Penn is now a crusading global journalist, not just an Oscar-winning actor, screenwriter and director. And Producer. Yes, when he’s not making films, he’s off covering starvation for the LA Times, or most recently stirring up conflict by sticking his crooked nose into the Falklands War debate. It’s hard enough these days for Journalism school grads to get decent jobs without hyper-achievers and glory-hounds like Sean Penn stealing prime correspondent roles.

Steve Earle, one of my favourite songwriters, published a disappointing collection of short stories a couple of years back called Doghouse Roses. He did that in between his minor acting roles on shows like The Wire. Stick to telling stories in four to five minutes dude, because you’re brilliant at it and most songwriters would kill to have your talent.

My point is, why is it that so many celebrities want to be someone else? Are they bored with their art or craft? Oh I’m not against bending within a creative space, for a fiction writer, say, to adapt her own screenplay or who knows, maybe even write some songs to go with the movie. I myself like to write a ditty now and then about my Shih-Tzu-Terrier-Poodle-Maltese named Rascal. And I’m not advocating for pigeon holes. God knows it’s hard enough to cross writing genres once you’ve established yourself.

And there are good examples, too, like Dave Bidini who is just as unexpectedly and perfectly creative in his non-fiction writing as he was as a musician with the legendary Rheostatics.

It just seems somehow to make a mockery of the dedication required to a specific craft when a self-absorbed Hollywood star gets bored making millions to pout on camera and decide they want to be a sculptor. Or a haiku master. At least with the written craft we don’t have to hear their efforts. Or watch them, like the torture of seeing Madonna again and again prove to the world she is entirely devoid of even an accidental ounce of dramatic talent.

Ah heck, I’m going to stop this rant now, because it’s late and really, as if I care what Scarlett Johansson does with her ample free time. Besides, I have a massive three-tier cake in the oven that needs a good slathering of fondant. Ever since catching an episode of The Cake Boss, I’ve been dabbling in the art of creating theme-oriented cakes and then somehow destroying them just for the dramatic tension. I'm pretty good at it.


The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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C.B. Forrest

C.B. Forrest is the author of the literary crime novels The Weight of Stones and Slow Recoil.

Go to C.B. Forrest’s Author Page