Once again, Gerard Butler’s fans (a cultural phenomenon in themselves – and one that I am trying to be part of in my own small way), have inspired me to turn a critical eye on our culture in general, and film culture in particular.
A blog article recently linked to by GerardButler.net makes references to Gerry as a B-list actor. What’s the proper response?
Considering how wobbly the definition of the A-list can be these days (the “traditional” A-list is reserved for people like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, the “punk” definition – and I use the term “punk” loosely – references the likes of Paris Hilton) – there seems to be no definite answer.
The same is true of the definition of B-list actors: do we mean David Hasselhoff here (don’t get me started on clever use of terms such as C-list, or D-list – I like the simplicity of A and B, OK?)? Or David Strathairn? A fellow Butler fan insisted that Strathairn was the true embodiment of B-list, and I found myself agreeing, at least in theory.
We can argue that the B-list is divided into two major categories: the people who are being themselves, and the people who want to be someone else.
The former are the reason why, in my opinion, we ought to reclaim, or, at the very least, reconsider the term “B-list” (just as I have tried to reclaim the word “slut,” on my own sweet time).
So-called B-listers are an amazingly diverse, peculiar group of individuals. These are not “America’s sweethearts,” or “Hello” cover-boys whose micro-managed lives are beamed into millions of homes across the heartland to be consumed alongside tampon commercials and the somnambulant coverage of the latest wartime debacle. These are not the red carpet marathoners whose former nannies, bodyguards, and adulterous lovers sell their tales to supermarket tabloids and splashy Hollywood-themed news programs. These are people who, in short, do not make me want sit in a dark room for the rest of my life just so I wouldn’t have to hear their name mentioned ever again.
Ewan McGregor is probably the perfect embodiment of a “real actor”, even though he has swung a light-saber around. Ewan McGregor remains watchable, palpable, in short – a human being. Natalie Portman is another “human celebrity” in my book – even if she had more of a career as an adolescent than most people do at age thirty. It’s not the resume that counts here, you see – it’s one’s behaviour.
All of this brings me back to Gerry Butler – a man whose charisma, talent, and fabulous bone-structure are not yet part of the mainstream. Butler has taken on ambitious roles – and his latest, “300,” may make his star rise to an entirely new plane. As excited as I am for him and his fans (the ones who have been supporting him for many more years than Butler-virgins like me have known of his existence) – I do hope that Butler will continue to be himself. After all, it takes someone who doesn’t have a harem of publicists and pool-boys to slyly answer a reporter who is wondering what his subject would do if he were a woman for a day with “I’d probably make love to another woman right away.”
Every person who takes an interest in Gerard Butler has to wonder – why are Butler’s Tarts (i.e. fans) so dedicated? I believe that this has to do with the fact that he is human to them – and they are human to him. A primadonna could never have achieved that level of camaraderie with his supporters, even as he continuously worked his way up the foodchain.
And why do the Tarts strive so hard to respect this man’s privacy? Because he has a reputation for being warm and respectful right back. There is something very accessible about this man – I am speaking as someone who will never meet him – and something that, at the same time, appeals to one’s manners.
All of this might make me sound like a sourpuss who desperately wants the object of her affection to refrain from “selling out” – i.e. being noticed, and overwhelmed, by the affections of others. But even as I struggle to build my own (very different) career, I must remember to be temperate in my tastes and desires. Overexposure is boring and unhealthy in any entertainment/art job. There are people who continue to transcend it, but the majority fall into a kind of glitzy torpor; even the Beatles had to stop touring after the screaming fans had successfully drowned out their music (OK, so, I probably would have been one of those screaming fans – I admit it, I am Miniver Cheevy, born too late).
In conclusion, I’d like to insist that coming from the mouth of a discerning individual – a spot on the reclaimed B-list ought to be a major compliment (the David Hasselhoffs of this world notwithstanding). It can be a mark of pride. It be a term of endearment.
If Gerry Butler wore it so damn well – so can others.