December 15, 2010

Is the pool really that small?

Isn't it amazing how movie after movie comes out, allegedly fresh and new, but with the same damn actors? American movies can only star Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and maybe 20 other people -- and that's it. So I guess that's the entire pool of American actors.

What happened? People aren't studying acting anymore? No one wants in? Or is it such a special skill that only these 22 people have it? Apparently, because the pool always contains the same number of fish.

Same with baseball. How many damn years have the same players been in the game? Are there no other talented baseball players out there? Only this small bunch of guys? I mean, I know new, young players come up every year. But let's face it, they only replace the very old players who are finally breaking down after a lifetime of playing the game. That's not much turnover. I guess there really are no talented young players out there.

Same with politics. Please tell me that our country isn't going to elect yet another president from the same low-brow, cold-blooded, hare-brained family. Is Jed really on his way to the White House? The problem doesn't stop with the Bushes, of course. Take the last election. Did one of the leading Democratic candidates have to be the wife of a former president? I mean, I know she's a nice person and all, but seriously. There was no other great candidate out there in our gigantic country? That seems so odd to me, unless we're suckers for this sort of thing. Family trumps all. Is that it?

It's everywhere. In New York we're just about to crown Andrew Cuomo as governor. We had to choose the son of a former governor, apparently. There's such a dearth of good people out there, you know.

Why is it that nepotism is fine in politics but poison everywhere else? Just look at the dynasties in Congress. Ron and Rand indeed. And it was truly horrifying to see Quayle II pop up on the political radar screen recently. Like we needed another one.

It's sickening. We are a nation of 300 million people. Surely there are some fresh, promising candidates for political positions out there. Surely.

Movies, sports and politics. Shouldn't these huge, important and vastly different arenas have a ton of talented players? Wouldn't that enrich the mix (and our lives)? And if it did, wouldn't that be a very good thing?

I know that part of the problem is our tendency to see those three areas -- movies, sports and politics -- as magical realms peopled by celebrities, folks who are bigger than life. We revere them and want to keep them around. That much I understand. But why can't someone new enter the group? Think how rarely someone new thunders onto the acting scene, for instance. How many fascinating new actors did you see last year? The year before?

Why do we accept such narrow choices? I don't understand.

UPDATE: I wrote this post about three days ago (yes, I write a number of posts in one evening and put them up on successive mornings). Then, yesterday morning I found PZ talking about the same thing (sort of) and he offered an explanation for why we accept such a small pool:
"But sometimes we seem to be prone to a pathological degree of attachment, where because once we favored some strange object of worship, whether it's Jesus or Spock or America or the Green Bay Packers, we can't let go. Changing our minds would be an admission that we were wrong and could be wrong about something we regard as important in our lives, and there's a reasonable fear that opening the door to that kind of uncertainty might lead to chaos."

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