Saturday, 1 April 2017

Career opportunities.

You come across some curious career moves. All around Vigo at the moment are posters for a film starring Scarlett Johanssen: The Girl in the Shell or something like that. It's not a terribly flattering picture of that young actress but someone must have selected it as somehow expressing the essence of the film. All of that is by the by. What I find more interesting is the fact that Ms Johanssen opened a popcorn shop in Paris last Autumn. She launched this venture with her then husband, Frenchman Romain Dauriac. She has since filed for divorce. Who gets custody of the shop? The shop is reported to serve gourmet popcorn.

I have some difficulty in imagining a shop that sells only popcorn, even if it comes in unusual flavours. And I have further difficulty in envisaging such a thing as gourmet popcorn. Who knew that such a thing even existed? Presumably the shop provides employment opportunities for someone. I don't suppose Ms Johanssen herself serves the gourmet popcorn. Now, that is quite an image: chic Parisienne ladies walking along with those cardboard buckets of popcorn, unable to eat it because it has been sold to them by a screen idol!

Such business ventures are the kind of thing you can do once you are rich and famous. You can branch out into all sorts of things. Actors become singers become fashion designers become gourmet popcorn sellers. More troubling for would-be authors is the trend for the already rich and famous to be given contracts for books by publishing companies.

This is not just ghost-written, or even genuinely personally-written, autobiographies either. The latest thing is for actors and singers and other such well-known people to plan to write children's books and receive quite huge advances on them. It has always gone on of course. I was never greatly impressed by "Budgie, the Little Helicopter" and felt that it was only published because it was the brainchild (if you can call it that) of Sarah Ferguson, when she was Duchess of York.

Writers are expressing their concern: “The massive advances mean publishers put all their marketing into making these books work in order to earn back the investment. So when they fail, not only have they taken money for publicity that could have helped the rest of us, but there is no money left.”

Of course, they are not all bad writers. I have heard quite high praise for the children's books written by comedian David Walliams. And I have to say that his books encouraged our grandson to turn from a reluctant reader to a fluent reader and occasional bookworm. Only occasional, however, as he still prefers his electronic games!

The main point is though that it becomes harder and harder for ordinary folk to break into these professions. Acting, singing, writing, politics - in all of these you hear of more and more cases of individuals getting on because of family connections or something similar.

 They are all becoming a closed shop - and not one that sells gourmet popcorn either! This is what the Spanish call "enchufe".

 Final note: I also heard that young Scarlett is considering a career in politics some time in the future.

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