So I’m sitting here listening to Jada Pinkett Smith talk about addiction because what else would you do on a Saturday afternoon when deadlines are looming and you have a dozen and half more student scripts to read?
You might want to know that it turns out Jada has a talk show on Facebook Watch (Note: So this is a thing now?) called Red Table Talk with her Mom (Adrienne) and daughter (Willow) and the random guest where they share three generational perspectives on…issues.
Now I’m not a Jada fan, or even non-fan, though I remain rankled by her husband Will Smith refusing to kiss a guy onscreen decades ago when he played a gay character in the film adaptation of Six Degrees of Separation.
Still, that’s not her responsibility and I did enjoy her in Bamboozled. Though I really dislike the idea of people home schooling their kids, which apparently the Smiths have done. And I think we can all also agree her announced Oscar boycott a couple of years ago, partly due to Will not being nominated for, ahem, Concussion, was a bit grand and a bit much.
On the other hand, who’s to say? #OscarsSoWhite became more of a thing and the next year Moonlight did win best picture.
All of this is #SoNotMyBusiness, of course.
I don’t know these people and have no right to judge them. Except, well, I do – most of us do – especially when they expose their personal lives to us via…well, I was going to say television. But silly me, Red Table Talk is a web series, which is not exactly TV even though it involves a small screen with talking heads and programming you can make disappear with the flick of your finger.
Don’t knock that power. How much did you wish you could make disappear this week?
Somehow watching Jada’s Mom talk about her years as a heroin addict, Will’s sister admitting up until a week ago she was stoned on grass 24/7 and Jada recalling her own sex addiction back in her twenties became, in itself, addicting. At least for the 15 plus minutes it was on. Add to this the presence August Alsina, the seemingly tough guy young singer she and Mom recently helped out of pill addiction and I began to wonder if my continued interest wasn’t the latent addiction gene that I know I carry but had always managed to keep at bay, finally rearing its ugly head.
Suffice it to say – no.
We’re all addicted to addiction and not necessarily in a good way.
Although…I lament on how unable I am on most days to turn off cable news. And when I had my students watch Boogie Nights last month I could see the look of sheer terror in some of their eyes when I casually mentioned that porn was not always free to watch over and over again on the Internet. Speaking of which, is Twitter raging an addiction?
That’s obviously rhetorical.
Three major movies at the moment spotlight addiction. Julia Roberts tries valiantly to keep her son from going back on drugs in Ben is Back, Steve Carrell valiantly trying to understand why his son does drugs in Beautiful Boy and Lady Gaga is torn up inside and out that the man she loves and knew was an addict before she married him is now back on drugs in A Star Is Born.
The old sick joke at the newspaper I once worked at was that it took at least three concurrent examples to even begin to consider something a trend at any moment in time. So if we add Twitter raging to the mix, well…. draw your own conclusion. But know another golden journalism rule I learned in grad school at Northwestern — never rule out the obvious.
(Note: You’re welcome since I just provided you with several thousands of dollars of valuable education gratis).
In too many ways all three of these film stories are rather obvious, but, isn’t that part of the attraction? We know these people, we’ve seen these people or perhaps we are these people. All of us addicts. Or enablers. And sometimes both.
Tom Arnold just claimed in Newsweek that even self-proclaimed never tasted alcohol Electoral College POTUS Trump habitually snorted Adderall on the set of NBC’s The Apprentice. Stand up comic Noel Casler, who says he worked on the show for six years called the EC POTUS a speed freak and said his obsession/ogling of the female contestants on the Miss Teen Universe pageant he owned was something akin to what would happen if you gave Jeffrey Dahmer a cooking show.
None of this is pretty but we don’t live in pretty times. Therefore, the more we can understand our addictions and/or the addicts we love, or love to hate, the sooner we can make the necessary informed choices.
They may not all be our cups of tea but let’s not pretend A Star is Born, Ben is Back and Beautiful Boy don’t offer us all something and that together they’re not a trend. We can even learn from Jada Pinkett Smith, god help us.