There are a lot of people second-guessing what happened with AJ Clemente, on his first day on the job.
There are many posts on Facebook insisting that he should get another chance.
Well, there are a lot of young, nervous people whose first reaction, their first day, would not have been multiple profanities. Virtually every person in film, television, radio – they’ve had prior experience before they get a professional gig – and they know how dear it is to get one chance.
At the end of the day, we’re not all cut out the same for different stressful situations. Not everyone qualifies to be an Airborne Ranger; would we want it any other way? Same with live broadcast. Some people’s talents lie elsewhere in the same field. I think the story from “Band of Brothers”, regarding Sobel, the company commander who everyone despised, is really telling. You have a guy who is not only hated by his soldiers, but allegedly has difficulty reading a map and has no business being anywhere near a battlefield. However, his training saves their lives in the long run. The story argues that Sobel never gets over the idea of what he was supposed to be. That is a tragedy. I hope A.J. Clemente doesn’t fall into this trap and see this one moment as encapsulating his entire future. He has years ahead where he can build a career. (Also, bear in mind: Sobel’s family has disagreed with the portrayal to some degree.)
Meanwhile, we have to stop coddling poor impulse control for its own sake, because someone is starting out, etc. No, people shouldn’t demand perfection – but it does beginning professionals no favors to indicate that their mistakes have no consequences. I have seen some incredibly short-sighted, offensive posts on Twitter and Facebook from professionals in their early twenties, posts that defy common sense. (The first thought I have is that they have a helicopter parent or two who cleared the path for them, because I can’t believe someone with such poor judgment would have the merit to actually win their professional position.)
These folks either torpedo themselves, personally, or worse – the company they represent. That is sometimes the company’s fault – many companies mistakenly think just anyone young and cool can speak for them. There are other ways we see this lack of professionalism spreading, for instance, in the news world. Major gaffes in newspaper articles or broadcast tickers, because someone didn’t bother to run spell-check – or did run spell-check and then didn’t ask someone else to reread it. Sloppy, unintentionally funny research failures.
Ultimately, A.J. made the station look bad. If you want to do this kind of thing full time, you have to accept what the mistakes will cost you. I think, based on the Twitter posts he’s made, A.J. is aware of this and trying to retain some professionalism.
Speaking of mistakes — I know what I’m talking about. I have a film degree. I fumbled my chance to work at a television network. I also blew my shot to go on “Jeopardy”. I can think of maybe a half dozen other dumb things I did (or didn’t do) in my early to mid-twenties that harmed or stalled my career. You live and learn, and you move on. Frankly, I doubt I’m alone in thinking I learned far more from my mistakes (especially the big ones) than many of my successes.
A.J. can still pursue broadcasting. If he’s smart, he’ll use the notoriety somehow, and use the impression people already have of him – without expecting this specific company to give him another chance. That’s the advice I’d give – Go on Howard Stern. Endorse a company. Develop a podcast or see if you can go on local radio. Take an improv comedy class. Find another company who actively wants to give you a chance.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post in response to @filmclassics’ plea for more women in the TCM Memorial Day marathon. You’d think, with all the discussion of women entering combat (a place that a lot of them have already been serving in, just not “technically”), we might see at least one film representing the women in uniform.
I noted how happy I was to see “The Best Years of Our Lives” (I am extremely excited to say, with the help of my employer and a charitable foundation, a group of us plan to show this film on the big screen here in Houston, around Veterans Day … but more on that some other time!)…
But none of the films that year, or last year, 2012, appeared to focus on the excellent work done by thousands and thousands of women serving in uniform. (I can’t speak to 2011. Anyone?) I have to say, after spending some time in 2012 researching a doc on women in WWII, traveling to Avenger Field, the WASP archives at Texas Woman’s University, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project, and sifting through movie materials at the National Archives, it’s reaffirmed my sense that this is a story that we can’t forget to tell, every Memorial Day, every Veterans’ Day. (Also, I think that might answer the question about why I didn’t blog at all last year! Too busy with research!)
I am happy to say that this year, TCM is actually showing some of the films I suggested (not that I think they read my post or anything!). “They Were Expendable” is a great, great film about the Naval PT boats, with a solid role for Donna Reed as a military nurse. The gorgeous “The Cranes Are Flying” is also slated, with its tale of a Soviet widow on the homefront. “Homecoming”, a 1948 romance with Lana Turner as a lieutenant, also appears. It’s a new one to me, but my understanding is it’s about a torrid affair with Clark Gable – not so much about her service. For that, again, folks, I return you to these picks: “So Proudly We Hail,” “Cry Havoc,” or “I Was A Male War Bride”. Even the early talkie “War Nurse”.
And once more, “The Best Years of Our Lives” appears. I was surprised to learn, when I investigated the licensing and rental situation with this film, that there are no longer any 35mm copies available – all destroyed by the studio. Fittingly, around that time, I had just supported Julia Marchese’s kickstarter campaign for “Out of Print”, her upcoming documentary about the New Beverly Cinema, and the threat to 35mm revival houses.
A lot of classic film fans don’t live anywhere near a classic revival house, and so may not be aware of the new challenge facing many of these screening houses. It’s a world away from the college students in the 1960s and 1970s, who could modestly fundraise a local film society and send away for prints from a studio. Today, your theatre better have expensive digital equipment – or you better be OK with showing DVDs – because the prints are disappearing.
As always, I’m glad TCM shows us a lot of films we wouldn’t otherwise see, but I do wish next year, we’d see “Cry Havoc” or “So Proudly We Hail”.