Archives for November, 2010
In the documentary "ADD & Loving it?!", host and actor Patrick McKenna notes that Hollywood (and by extension, the arts in general) is one place that unusual, even eccentric, people - many with ADHD, like himself - can be accepted and creative. Lists of prominent creative people who show trademark signs of ADHD include Ansel Adams, Anne Bancroft, Beethoven, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Cher, Thomas Edison, Robin Williams, Henry Winkler, Stevie Wonder, and many others. [From the LifeTips site.] “In the midst of all the chaos in your mind, and all of the disorganization, and all the trouble getting started, and procrastination, your brain just thinks a little bit differently. And you can come up with things.” That quote is by David Neeleman, former CEO of Jet Blue Airways. In 2000, he disclosed to CNN that he has ADD / Adult attention-deficit disorder.
"The process of creating strengthens and restores my spirit." Painter Roxanne Chinook. Creative expression can transform painful reactions and situations, providing strength and understanding to change or at least deal with how the creative person feels and interacts with the world. Some think art needs to have that kind of deep impact to be worthwhile. Franz Kafka commented, “I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us... that affect us like a disaster... A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
In an interview when she was about 15, actor Claire Danes said, “I never thought of myself as shy, and then I realized I am kind of shy; I’ve just built defenses to hide it.” [Photo from her movie Temple Grandin.] I have often been struck by how many apparently very self-assured performers and actors have been shy or introverted as children. Many still are, as adults. Musician Gwen Stefani is another example. She was a “shy girl who spent most of her time in a bedroom plastered with Marilyn Monroe posters, who nevertheless assumed she was destined for greatness,” according to a UK newspaper profile.
One of the most basic elements in creative expression is ideas - interesting, stimulating, boring, trivial, absurd, impractical, useless, offensive - all sorts of ideas. But just labeling or categorizing is a kind of censorship - especially if we do it too early on, before allowing them to percolate both consciously and unconsciously. The attitudes we have about our creative ideas and projects can have a huge impact on what we actually invest energy in - or how much. If we think a project is "only personal" or "not commercial," we may not invest much into developing it, or it may not reach as large an audience it could if we were more passionate about it.
Many of his other movies are fact-based stories such as The Queen and Frost/Nixon, but screenwriter Peter Morgan says he wrote Hereafter quickly for himself, "without mapping it out too much or being too schematic," and "left it in a drawer." But six months or so later, a close friend died and he looked at the script again and decided to send it to his agent. Steven Spielberg read it and suggested a number of changes, which Morgan says he was "thrilled with." But in a later meeting, Morgan said Spielberg thought the changes "he had given me had harmed the script and I said, 'No, it was good,' and he said, 'No, no, it isn’t good, and I damaged your work, and I don’t want to touch it again, and I want to go back to the original script that you sent me, and I want to give it to my friend Clint Eastwood.'
Recently teen actress and singer-songwriter Demi Lovato entered treatment for "emotional and physical issues" - which reportedly include self-harm in the form of cutting. According to a news report, "People close to the 18-year-old star say she struggled with eating disorders and self-mutilation before her breakthrough [Disney] role." [From Demi Lovato's crisis shows the risks of teen stardom, Los Angeles Times, Nov 6, 2010.] What is cutting? Dr. Michael Hollander, director of 3East at McLean Hospital affiliated with Harvard Medical School, commented in another article, "Often times, the individual is practically bursting with overwhelming feelings and this can be too hard to bear. I would say 80% of patients self-injure for emotional regulation."
In the new movie "Fair Game," Naomi Watts portrays Valerie Plame, a CIA agent whose identity was revealed by Bush White House officials to discredit her former ambassador husband for investigating and finding false the story of Niger selling uranium to Iraq, thus justifying the war. Watts keeps getting stronger, more nuanced and emotionally complex, and is very intense and authentic here in depicting such a meaningful person in history. She has grown into her strengths and identity as an artist over many years. It is a process for all of us. There is a line in her movie “Ellie Parker” (2005) in which she starred and also produced: “You can’t be yourself because you’re always being judged.”