The Brett Favre saga has riddled the sports headlines for too long, and I'm not going to voice an opinion about him and his decision, I am going to use it as a way to illustrate the similarity to our business.
You see, all the reaction to his plight isn't so much about a guy who decided he loved the game enough to un-retire, it was about the brand, the loyalty, the city of Green Bay's love affair with their hero, their icon, their symbol of guts and intensity having no place to play because the team didn't fall down dead to have him back.
He is everything you'd like to be known as one day; someone who makes everyone around him better, someone that makes fans believe in greatness. How could he possibly do that anywhere but where it all began, where he honed his talent, in Green Bay? It's unthinkable and outrageous to football fans everywhere. But in the end what won out?
Green Bay didn't have room for him. Legacy, records, all that fell flat when it came down to the guy refusing to be anyone's understudy. He went to a team that made him the best deal. We too have our hurdles of loyalty and pleasing those who supported us through the tough times. Out of all the actors I know there's only 1 who still has his first agent. One. Everyone else has been through many. Why?
Brett Favre is a purist for the game. He reminds me that no matter how great you are and how much you have done to further your talent, how much money you've made for the network or the studio, no matter how many favors you've done for friends in the business, it's the business that everyone points to when making decisions that include or exclude you from their project. I mean if the Green Bay Packers don't have room for their Mickey Mantle, you can't be staggered to learn that the network that your hit TV show was on wants you to audition for their new series.
There is a biz urban myth where Shelly Winters being asked to audition, shows up, sets her Oscars on the desk of the Casting Director and says "Do I still have to audition?" to which she's told "Yes." I don't care if it's true, the fact that a story like that is repeated enough times for me to hear it, is there to do nothing more than reinforce the lesson that's stuffed down our throats early and often. The lesson that is sure to make you instinctively start fighting battles that haven't started yet. Actors are always looking for a place to join and grow and create and feel safe. When we hear things like that we go into defense mode, don't we?
I think it comes down to our perception of what "should be." If you keep in mind that the biz is not a foundation on which to stand, that it's a flowing, changing, evolving thing, you will constantly be looking for the changes and won't get caught in some battle of egos or pride that has nothing to do with your value but undoubtedly with the perceived financial success of the check writer. No, we are not slabs of meat on a rack, we are artists that have a product to offer to a business that rewards us for them. Keep in mind that not unlike your search for a deeper understanding of your work, the biz also goes in search of even more "products." It's nature and as human beings we seek solid ground called loyalty.
The head shaking about Brett Favre had me chuckling really. I mean, actors are asked to reaffirm their talent every day. He had a steady job for 16 years and even when he lost the game he kept his job. An actor's rating slips and they lose their job. He had it easy really. And for all his life changing heroics, what happened in the end? He went where he could do what he does best. That's sounds familiar doesn't it?
“I always thought the real violence in Hollywood isn't what's on the screen. It's what you have to do to raise the money.”–David Mamet