At the end of Jean Luc Goddard’s Le Mepris (Contempt), Brigitte Bardot’s character Camille runs off with a producer in his fancy Alfa Romeo convertible. Following the gradual collapse of her relationship with Paul, she finds what she believes to be happiness through her new found freedom. Before she can realize her new life with Mr. Bigshot, the car is wrecked in a fiery accident and the movie comes to an abrupt close.
Poor Brigitte can never find happiness, not in Contempt.
Made in 1964 at the height of the French New Wave, Le Mepris was a subtly brilliant film, making use of a cramped production design to illustrate the cage-like feeling of entrapment. The film explored the idea of Amour as it were meant to be explored in a painfully realistic light. There would be no happy ending to this romance, because there wasn’t supposed to be.
Life does not always come equipped with happy endings, no matter how hard we try to force their dreamlike reality upon us. Yet Hollywood and its profitable escapism has lead people to desire things impossible, to embrace the happy ending as the only possibility.
Hollywood does this in reality too. Beyond the shiny new sets and green-screens, Hollywood feeds this line of the happy ending to all who pursue it as career. Put in the struggle and the hard-work, and you will make it.
Self help gurus litter the Twitter landscape and the Blacklist (while useful) is happy to take aspiring writers money for mediocre notes (at best) even when those writers are not ready to submit to such a service.
Hollywood loves to talk about the folks who make it, but rarely do we discuss all those who crash up against its pearly gates. This concept of Hollywood as heaven, this idea of the “break” as savior is idolized by aspirings everywhere. So desperate for advice and some clarity, those vulnerable to dreams want justification for their pursuit of this heaven. Many in the business have not only been happy to give that justification, but to profit it from it as well.
Here’s the reality, you will probably not make it in this business. There is no guarantee any more than there is a set of rules you must follow in order to get your foot into heavens gates. There is no bible you can read. There is no crusade you must fight. There is no Templar you must convince. There is no trade you must take. There is nothing but the faith you have in yourself and the hope that you might be lucky enough with the right idea, at the right time to present that work to the right person.
Myself, I was happy to create this imagery in my head where I could run off with the producer who once was kind enough to advise me. This idea of “once I go to work for him, everything will be solved” was both a figment of my immaturity as it was exemplary of my inability to think rationally in a dream state. If the chance to work for him actually presented itself; the chance to escape through that red little sports car, the reality is that I would still be one accident away from not being happy again.
Our refusal to be happy with the present, to constantly seek justification for some hypothetical happy ending future has given us everything from an abundance of Hollywood Twitter gurus to irrational thinking that clouds the present. There is no guarantee for a happy ending. Whether your heaven is Hollywood or a trip to France in an Alfa Romeo with your lover, know that there is no guarantee for that future unless you can find happiness today.
The only way you can find happiness today is to live in the present, to escape contempt and to stop looking for justification for how to live your own life.