You probably heard this “news” yesterday. You’re hip and with it. You’ve got your ear to the tracks. Your mom follows you on Pinterest. So: Jon Stewart announced that he’s taking a 12 weeks hiatus from The Daily Show this summer to direct his first feature film, Rosewater, about a BBC journalist who is imprisoned and interrogated in Iran. Fun! The movie should be called Funwater lol! Now, here’s the thing about this as far as news goes: it’s mostly just weird Jon Stewart hasn’t done this already. He’s famous and “important” and people “like” him and are interested in what he’s “doing,” so you would think that he would have already taken some time off from his NIGHTLY talk show host job to stretch his creative legs. Sure, man. We get it. Congratulations and please enjoy your time off that is actually not time off at all but an incredible amount of work.
Here is the other thing about this, though: why does everyone think they can just be a good director? It’s weird! I was talking to a friend of mine about this recently who is actually a director, like he went to school for it and is great at it and it is what he wants to do with his life and everything. (I don’t want to name drop, but let’s just say that his name rhymes with Steve-O Snoderborgh. Just kidding. It’s Dean Fleischer-Camp! You know him.) I was asking him, as a director, how much he loved it when the star of a TV show would just hop into the director’s chair for a couple of episodes (I am looking at you with a rude look, Jon Hamm and Bryan Cranston) as if a) this is just a natural progression and as if b) they are the next Wesses Anderson or something. “Oh, I love that,” Dean said, but in a sarcastic tone. Because of course he doesn’t love that, none of the directors do. Because it’s rude!
OK, so real quick let me just point out that I am a big fan of people expressing their creativity however they want, and taking weird, sharp detours from their typical projects. I think it’s fun when an actor starts painting, or whatever. Shaq can rap all night long as far as I am concerned. The weird thing about people just haphazardly becoming “directors” is that a) directing is way harder than they ever seem to give credit for and b) directing unlike painting or rapping at a nightclub actually requires massive amounts of capital investment and also the collaborative work of at least dozens of people, sometimes hundreds. It’s basically like starting your own business for a year. So the implication of an actor or comedian or talk-show host just casually (who knows how casually that might not be a fair word to use) choosing to direct stuff implies that their genius and talent is such that a small army of people should put their LIVES in these people’s hands for however much time and for however much money because they want them to. (This, too, is a simplification, since everyone is allowed to turn down Jon Stewart’s offer of “Best Boy Grip.” But you see my point.)
Again, all I really want is an acknowledgement that this is a weird trend. I’m not saying everyone has to cut it out. If I ever get cast on a TV show and then later am asked to direct an episode, I will direct the SHIT out of that episode, and the first person who brings up this blog post as some kind of proof of my double-standard way of life will get a free punch in the mouth. GRATIS. But it is weird. And it is self-indulgent. And it is, like white people rapping in insurance commercials, a pretty condescending and incorrect interpretation of the art. Admit it. Just admit that to me, please.
R.I.P. Hugo Chavez.