Something that has always amazed me is how differently stardom is approached today than in was in the first half of the century.
What makes “Old Hollywood” so damn glamorous? It certainly isn’t just the clothes and the hair and the black and white celluloid frames – for all of those visually pleasing elements can be recaptured, and ofter are come awards show season. What really makes “Old Hollywood” so appealing is the perpetuation of on screen ideals off screen – consistency between the stars personal and filmic lives. “Old” Hollywood thrived on media that with soft lighting and no HD.
Hastie’s discussion of Brooks spends a great deal of time discussing the nature of truth within an actors life. But what does it really mean to be truthful or authentic? And how does one retain authenticity in the face of over-exposure or uncomfortable media voyeurism? Brooks recognition of her inabiliy to paint a full autobiographical portrait, in conjunction with her naturalistic approach to acting is as close as I believe one can get to filmic authenticity. In many ways, the admission that information is being withheld is a purer form of honesty than telling subjective anecdotes a third party will never fully be able to comprehend. Likewise, Brooks lets veracity shine through her body and face on the screen, which is part of what many of her “cult-like” followers find so seductive – a kind of unapologetic truth, a sordid sense of chaos and wonder that is both active and passive, male and female, innocent and deviant. In short, Lulu’s truth comes out of her contradiction.
Since Brooks’ time on the silver screen we have made a clear shift from a symbiotic actor-fan relationship to social media cannibalism – our search for truth has bypassed the free will of the star and become an invasive treasure hunt for weakness and scandal… the stars aren’t the ones who have changed, our own insecurities and voyeuristic pleasures have merely evolved, or perhaps, devolved us into the freak show audience in awe with the bearded lady. So the next time we look back on the Audrey Hepburn’s and the Rita Hayworth’s with wide and innocent eyes, let’s not pretend we haven’t dug our own grave Perez Hilton.