There was a hackneyed theme in movie entertainment sixty or seventy years ago. Mickey Rooney or some other homunculus would turn to Judy Garland or some other soon-to-be-drinking-right-from-the-bottle starlet, and exclaim: “Let’s put on a show!”
Of course they’d get up a stage made from packing crate lumber and bedsheets, and sing and dance, and have some good old-timey fun; and they’d save the orphanage from the evil bankers who wanted to foreclose on the mortgage and turn it into a Dickensian factory. With the orphans chained to the machines, no doubt.
The only problem with the theme was that it wasn’t real. The essence of entertainment is to make the difficult seem easy, or better –effortless. When you see Gene Kelly splashing in the puddles, he’s always got that huge beaming smile on his face. Four minutes and fifty seconds in to the routine, he’s still got that smile pasted on there, even though I imagine his lungs are on fire and his knees are groaning and his lower back is barking at him and his stamina is tested like a marathoner 1000 yards from the finish line.
You’re not supposed to see the effort he put into it before the cameras were turned on, or the pie plate with stubbed out cigarette butts atop the battered piano in the third floor walk-up in Brooklyn where the song was written. You don’t want to hear about the splinters suffered by the crewman making that packing crate stage to hold Fatty Arbuckle.
But all the apparatus that makes self expression possible is getting easier to get your hands on all the time. And there are still a lot of kids in straitened circumstances with a lot of time on their hands, and they still decide to put on a show. And the internet and the digital world it represents makes room for the amateur — he who does it for love– to compete ably for your attention with the mighty professional.
Hail to you, whoever the hell you are, because you were down in your mother’s basement, and said to yourself: Let’s put on a show!: