Sunday, May 22
Romance, according to Leo Braudy, author of "The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History" and a professor of film history at the University of Southern California, is a "kind of exclusive focus on one person to the exclusion of the outside world." The tendency for couples is to have their own world, existing only for each other.
I suppose that's true for regular people, but even more so if the persons involved in the coupling are celebrities. "We hide, don't seek us please" is the motto, and when caught in the act, the mantra turns to "Deny everything."
That's why it's comforting to know that I'm not the only one feeling iffy about the entire Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise connection. Simply incredulous. Aside from the improbability that they have enough commonalities to date, they seem to be courting, and not avoiding, the media. There are more cynics than believers, as evidenced in a survey released by People magazine recently, in which 62% of those polled pronounced the romance as a publicity stunt.
In Mireya Navarro's article in the New York Times, she pointed out that the practice of inventing screen romances is already old hat, an industry staple. "The coupling of stars to create ballyhoo for a movie, burnish an actor's image, create a name or distract attention from other relationships may not be as common as when the movie studios tightly controlled stars' careers through the 1950's." Fake romances were arranged as a matter of course to hide secret affairs, or in the case of Rock Hudson, homosexuality.
It's mostly smokes and mirrors, as a romance is an almost foolproof way to land publicity. It's not a uniquely Hollywood practice, as the same marketing strategy is employed here in the Philippines, where movies as sold on the basis of the kilig factor and the loudness of shrieking emitted by fans. (I mean, just think Juday-Piolo, okay?)
But Peter Sealey, a former president for marketing and distribution for Columbia Pictures, who is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that while stars may personally benefit from the higher profile a new love may bring - staged or otherwise - movies live or die on word of mouth, and "you want the focus on the movie."
Further more, he claimed that love relationships do not directly affect ticket sales. But on the other hand, it can also interfere with the suspension of disbelief that is still the goal for most movies. At this point, Sealey cited the monstrosity that was Bennifer. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's affair was so overplayed that their cinematic pairing, Gigli, suffered at the box office.
In the toggle between reality and fantasy, in the age of oversaturated media, fantasy loses. Unless the celebrity couple are involved in separate projects, as in the case of Tom Cruise's War of the Worlds or Katie Holmes' participation in the new Batman film.
I don't know about you, but Joey Potter lusted after the guy who danced in his underwear in Risky Business while she was still in diapers? Or is Katie worried that she has to trump Michelle Williams' lovechild? I can also imagine Tom Cruise's manager sternly admonishing him, "Next time you date, please go all American." Oh yes, something's rotten in Hollywood.