Brian’s Reflection: Monday, April 5, 2010
Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.
Bette Davis, artist & actress, born on this date, 1908, in Lowell MA
So. Whad’ya think?? Yep, on the top is Bette when she first started in Hollywood. From the American “standard” point of view – and I could be faulted since, as a Gay man, what do I know about pretty women?? – I would say that she is “pretty”. On the bottom, she’s a little “less” conventionally pretty perhaps? (After all: it is I think still conventional macho American thinking that a pretty woman can’t be “tough”!)
So, maybe Bette was on the dime about herself?? After all, she is also reported to have said, “Psychoanalysis. Almost went three times - almost. Then I decided what was peculiar about me was probably what made me successful."
It/She’s a perfect metaphor for each of us, I think. The metaphorical choice between “pretty” and “real” lies right in the tangled core of becoming one’s authentic Self. One can be both “pretty” and “real”. But Bette is implying that being “just” pretty is a metaphor for inauthentic – and I think that that is often what “show business” is about – as perhaps Ricky Martin has finally grasped, God bless him. Alas, Life in our culture is too often like show business.
I would say that the Gospel (I’ll stick here to that since I know it best), and any truthful philosophy or psychology or religion, is about the choice between the metaphorical pretty or real. The Christianity I know is relentless about self-awareness, about “truth”. Jesus never let anyone get away with lying to themselves. Nor did Aristotle or Jung. The God of Christianity doesn’t either – and the force behind it is Love.
Bette poses the question for each of us today: “pretty” or “real”?
She was a brave and self-respecting woman to choose realism.