Side Job Secrecy…

Inching our way to the day where we’re all press secretaries… After the break…

Side Job Secrecy…

John Wayne (yes, that one).

Richard Bachmann.

Mark Twain.

What do these three people have in common? It’s simple – None of them, technically, exists. Those three individuals are the pen / stage names of the following “real” people: Marion Morrison, Stephen King and Samuel Clemens.

We live in an age where even the everyday, man-on-the-street person realizes that there is such a phenomenon as stage names in the entertainment business. There are several reasons for why someone chooses to create a project a false name. For instance, the Screen Actors Guild requires that every performer has a different name from one another. So if you were born with the name of Brad Pitt… Well, you’re out of luck. That name is already taken. Pick another one. Sometimes, the name is very long and very cumbersome to pronounce. If your name is Mikaylakah Vikrolosomakhlshlasky… Well, you have a wonderful name until you try putting that into a title. So, instead of that very long name, you decide that it’s better if people know you as Michael Victor.

Suppose that you are a woman and want to break into an industry that is traditionally not receptive towards women. Instead of Joanne Rowling, you decide that you will sign your name as “J.K. Rowling.” Perhaps you are Jewish at a time, location or industry where being known as Jewish is not the best possible strategy, so you decide to alter your name from “Allan Konigsberg” to “Woody Allen.”

Finally, there are security reasons for wanting an alias in some part of your life. Suppose you, say… Write a blog (too easy?) or, for that matter, are a radio personality that must constantly interact with many aspects of the public, some of whom are unsavory. Suppose you are an adult actor or actress and would like to lower your chances of having obsessive people from stalking you, interrupting your personal life and possibly harming you.

There are many reasons why someone uses one name for one venture and another name for another venture and many, many, many of those reasons are perfectly fine and valid.

So it was with great puzzlement that I cracked open a newspaper the other day to find, on page one no less, the scintillating revelation that – Surprise! – Two educators were moonlighting as filmmakers and using stage names instead of their real names when making their films. I can only guess that the presumed reason of the newsworthiness of the story was that the films were not necessarily G-rated.

Were these educators using their students as unlikely actors or actresses in their supposedly unsavory careers? No.

Were these educators engaging, on screen, in some sort of horrific violent or sexual acts for their films? No.

Were these educators expressing deviant political or religious beliefs in the form of thinly-veiled documentaries that were more akin to propaganda? No.

Let us be lenient to their accusers – Horror movies typically are not for the feint of heart and certain segments of the horror movie industry neither shies away from gore or female nudity. We live in an age of diverse interests. I have no interest in ever learning the skill of needlepoint but I don’t want to see it banned. I have no interest in NASCAR races or, for that matter, motorcycle magazines that throw barely-clothed females onto their front covers (because, obviously, motorcycles and barely-clothed females complement each other greatly), yet I have no interest in banning either.

And let us make clear that such behavior would be inappropriate of those in religious, military or political offices. These are areas where responsibility is crucial regardless if you are “at your desk” or otherwise. If people think that their politicians are wildly unscrupulous, the whole governmental system is apt to collapse or merely weaken to the point of realistic inefficiency. The military relies upon strict adherence towards rules to maintain discipline as they need people to follow rules as though they were machines. Religion is about a code of laws that, if followed strictly, allows a society to further their interests without hindrance of lawlessness (although that is a whole other argument for a different time and will not elaborated on here).

Should these educators be embarrassed about their side professions? Yes, they should. But before the throwing of the stones occurs at these individuals, look into the mirror and wonder what would happen if all of your activities were brought to light. All of the websites that you’ve visited, all of the blog posts you’ve written (yeah, I know, too easy…), all of the R-rated (or worse) “selfies” you’ve taken, all of the inept statements you’ve made of sensitive topics of the day, all of the beer goggles you’ve worn at the bar, all of the one-night stands that have gone up in flames, all of the failed business ventures and stock purchases you’ve made, all of the people you’ve befriended who have since run afoul of our legal system… No one is a born natural Press Secretary, those individuals who say a lot without saying a lot. We are not diplomats. We have opinions, we have created content, we make decisions and sometimes, they are not perfect. Sometimes, they are not good. Sometimes, they downright suck. Don’t believe me? Take a picture of yourself and look back upon it thirty years from now to see if the fashions and hairstyles still hold up.

Those educators ought to be embarrassed but not shamed that, separate from their job, they acted like horny college students.

The newspaper, on the other hand, should be ashamed that at a time when the ebola virus has washed ashore, that congress has better activities to perform instead of working together to solve very real and very troubling issues, at a time when our transportation infrastructure, our energy infrastructure and our tax code could certainly use reforming and rebuilding, at a time when it seems we’ve jumped back into the era of bombing the middle east because.. You know, “terrorists”… At a time when the Soviet Union (sorry, Russia) has decided that it’s not an invasion of Crimea and Eastern Ukraine but really just a “snuggle with a struggle,” at a time when there are at least fifty news items that you could put on a Page 1 of a newspaper without so much as batting an eyelash or ponderous debate, the one that gets the nod are two educators who turn out that they like writing and shooting cheap and sleazy horror movies incognito. That’s page 1 material according to the newspaper.

You’re a newspaper, not a gossip column. Act like one.

And newspapers all around the country wonder why they are struggling to keep their doors open…

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