Saturday, December 11, 2010

If you want to make bank, start with your offspring

Paul is the cinematographer on his friend's film and they were conducting auditions last week.

One kid, about 8- or 9-years-old, stood out to the crew. The producer sat opposite him and read the part of "Anna." She handed him the script and asked him to do a cold reading. He played "Luke," a young boy who keeps re-enacting the glorified death of his soldier father.

The exchange went something like this:

"Luke": My dad's a hero, you know.

"Anna": How?

"Luke": He died in the war. I eleven show you. Look, I eleven be my dad.

(...)

"Anna": Why am I the enemy?

"Luke": I eleven show you. Just stand over there, OK?

The director tried to follow the conversation, flipping over the script pages front and back to figure out what the kid was saying. They asked him to re-read the part and again, it didn't make any sense.

Confused, they asked him why he keeps saying "eleven."

"Because," he said, flustered, "the number 11 is after the letter 'i'."

Everyone looked at each other. The kid couldn't read contractions. In fact, many of the child actors they'd been encountering couldn't read and needed their parents to help them memorize their lines.

I don't want to judge the education system too harshly, but I distinctly remember being the kid's age and reading at (above) grade level. And why are parents taking the time to help them cheat rather than making sure they are literate? My mom used to stay up until past midnight so I could master long division in grade 2; she definitely wouldn't have asked me to give her a 10-percent cut of my earnings. Granted, there are some smart kids in the business: I met one who would do her homework between takes. But that little girl's family could afford to enroll her in a special arts school that accommodated her work schedule.

Anyway, I'm trailing off. The point is, I find it disappointing when parents use their children as cash cows and forsake their intellectual development. But I suppose that's showbiz: Where narcissists go to shine.

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