During the recent Oscar telecast, host Jimmy Kimmel made a joke about actor and comedian Pauly Shore. Kimmel joked to the audience: “Thirty-one years ago, in 1992, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan were in a movie together, ‘Encino Man.’ Two actors from ‘Encino Man’ are nominated for Oscars. What an amazing night this must be for the two of you and what a difficult night for Pauly Shore.”
Shore responded by saying that he “loved it” and complimented his two co-stars. She even left a Tweet telling fans to “never give up on her dreams.” Shore took it all in stride and showed no hard feelings at the return call and obvious slight to his own career.
I can’t argue with Shore’s reaction and I have no basis for assuming that his sentiment was to mask hurt feelings and wasn’t 100% sincere, but… I will. Because she has to hurt a little. Maybe, not as a deep wound and maybe the mention during the Oscars has some positive effects that Shore is enjoying, but on some level, as a human being he doesn’t deserve to be mocked at the biggest event in his industry. , the fact that his run worked as a finisher, has to hurt.
Pauly Shore was a huge star in the early ’90s starring in high-concept comedies with his proprietary character creation he called “The Weasel.” He wasn’t particularly a fan, so he couldn’t say much about his movies, but I vaguely remember a stoned, happy-go-lucky character who was a bit laconic. I was in the business, so I was aware of the popularity of it and I was also aware of the rising reviews and declining box office each subsequent film received.
In the mid to late ’90s, it seemed the popular consensus was that Shore had become a parody of his parody and that he was finished. In fact, his effort to resurrect his career in 2003 was a mockumentary called “Pauly Shore Is Dead” in which he faked dying to gain popularity for his films.
In short, he became a symbol of fading popularity and a punchline to any dreary riches-to-rags saga. To be fair, he’s always worked, his pedigree is famous, and I’m sure he hasn’t fought for money, but he has fought for respect. Respect you deserve. Respect that is compromised when the Oscars hosts make fun of the fact that, in a sense, they left him behind in Encino.
I am no stranger to this type of criticism. Please don’t think I’m looking for compliments (I assure you I’m not), but I’ve found myself on more “worst of my life” lists than I care to mention. I saw my career ridiculed once in a copy of “The Onion.” In Rolling Stone’s ranking of SNL cast members, I’m near the bottom. The latter is not a criticism per se, but the compulsion to make racing a competition makes for strange bedfellows.
It’s a distinction I never wanted, but I know exactly how I got there. I also know (and have been anxious to write this to avoid any “poor Gary” comments) that I am happier, more fulfilled, and brimming with more confidence than I have ever been in three decades as an actor. I always believed that I had the talent to succeed in various aspects as a performer (which led to measurable success), but I never developed the necessary tools to stay there or build an enviable career. I was afraid of going too far down the Hollywood rabbit hole and becoming someone I didn’t know.
Many (many) actors don’t lose themselves and don’t sacrifice their morals, values, or integrity, and I could have been one of those admirable guys (like my friends who are still in the business). But I was afraid of losing aspects of my life that I believed made me the person who wanted to act in the first place.
That’s a puzzle, to be sure, but I have a feeling if you’re an actor reading this, you might understand.
So, I know how it feels to be perceived as someone who fell short. I’ve always been annoyed when Joe Piscopo has been criticized for not becoming as bankable a star as Eddie Murphy. He didn’t, but he did things “his way” and I know for a fact how hard Joe works and how talented he is. I challenge 1000 actors who can be bigger names to win any talent competition against Joe.
What causes this toxic tendency of humans to put others down in order to distance themselves from so-called “failures” or associate themselves with success by establishing contrast?
Certainly the advent of social media has attracted the critical crowd because we can now be critical warriors with relative anonymity or at least keep our distance from our subjects. There is now a wind tunnel/echo chamber for propagating and promulgating our opinions on everything from performances to proper pronouns. But “Cultura de la critique” goes beyond the platforms that share our subjective madness.
Criticism is rewarded. Criticism of the speech of the (ex) presidents has been exalted. Criticism has become a measure for entertainment; for discussion; for relationships
And criticism is also the toxic exhaust of a society that is losing compassion for others.
There are good reviews. We’ve all heard of “constructive criticism” and it’s a real thing. It is the clear, direct, and honest communication of ideas that could lead to positive change. He intends to help and even if he doesn’t, or is rebuffed, he usually wasn’t set out to hurt.
And that is where this essay began and where it will end. It is the intention that is relevant and it is the intention that has become harmful. I’m sure Jimmy Kimmel had no interest in or ill will toward Pauly Shore, but in an increasingly hostile environment, our standards have been lowered to a new normal. A new normal where laughter is more important than the quality of the joke. Where the insult is more important than any attempt at resolution.
And Pauly… I saw “Bio-Dome”. I wasn’t his target audience and I didn’t like it very much. But I admire you for finding a formula that put you at the top of pop culture, even for a little while. Much more than I ever did (and about a million other actors).