Grant Alter - Struggling Comic Writer

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Like most of America, I watch American Idol.
And with each season, it gets a little harder to watch.
It seems the judges get more impatient and generally, meaner, while the talent pool continues its continual spiral down the toilet water of humanity.
I'm not sure what concerns me more: the fact that we derive entertainment from the humiliation of the, in some cases, marginally retarded; or that the well of delusion from which these people drink seems to never reach empty.
Look at these pictures.

Not a single one of these people can sing. Yet there they go on my television, warbling, moaning, and making unintelligible noises. Sometimes I laugh, but I always feel upset and empty as a result. The fact is that it just feels cheap to laugh at these peoples expense.
But do I intend to no longer watch? No. Why is that? I suspect it is because the only thing sadder than making fun of these people is the mere fact that every single one of them honestly believes that America would rush to the store to buy their record.
Now I used to live in LA, so I know how deep that well of delusion runs. I've seen it at its worst. But at least they're out there, every day in the trenches of insanity they refer to as their "career".
They're gonna be famous despite an obvious and complete lack of talent and ability. But with it beamed right into my home, I see that it's no longer just a small little group of insane, large titted freaks in a remote section of the country. It's the whole bloody land. We're all fucking nuts.
Now, I write comics and people write about what it takes to make it in this job all the time. But writing is different than say art or singing or whatever. If you're tone deaf, you will NEVER be a good singer. If you don't have the artist's eye, it will be an extremely tough road for you.
But as a writer, we all tend to have elements of what it takes innately.
Most of us are storytellers. If you've ever recounted an experience to someone who wasn't there, you've told a story. Whether it was a good story is irrelevant. The instinct is there. In order to be good, it just takes work. Tell more stories, study the art of storytelling. It's very difficult for someone to read some of a writer's work and instantly decide whether or not they have what it takes. You can tell in three seconds if someone can sing. And none of the people in the pictures I have shown you will ever be able to sing well enough that the listener doesn't want to gouge out their own eardrums.
Now I am by no means, the greatest writer in comics. But I'm not that fat guy up there either. I know this. But why doesn't HE know this? Shouldn't he be able to hear himself and realize how truly awfully he sings? Shouldn't his parents have given him the heads up so that some asshole British guys don't make a mint off the suffering of their mentally handicapped, morbidly obese son?
Now I had relatives tell me I don't have what it takes to make it in comics. But in fairness, they...
A. Have absolutely no idea what it takes to write comics cause they haven't read one in decades and,
B. Never bothered to actually read a script or even listen to a synopsis before deciding I'd fail.
That was unfair. That was just a spiteful attempt to ensure that I don't acheive my goals, but rather the ones they consider to be more acceptable.
Now I sing too. And people have told me for years that I am good at it. But I would never go on American Idol. The reasoning is that, frankly, I am skeptical. These are people who love me and care about me. But are they being honest? I don't know. Am I the worst singer ever? No. That would be one of the above pictured sadsacks. But am I ever going to pay my bills with singing? I doubt it. I don't suck, but I probably wouldn't blow you away either.
With writing, that's less absolute. I have written stuff that I consider to be actually quite good and stuff that to be honest, wasn't all that hot.
I guess at the end of the day, I think there's a great deal of honor and respect in saving someone from allowing themselves to become a laughing stock. If you love someone, don't let the world have fun at their expense.
Learn how to nurture a dream without being completely delusional.
I'm not a singer or an actor for a reason. I am a better writer. Use your skills and figure out your talents.
And for god's sake, don't sing on television if you can't hold a tune.


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