On her journey of becoming a global icon of our time, the multi-talented artist Sasha Grey recently stopped by in Yekaterinburg, Russia to give a public lecture. Yes, you read it right and your eyes are not deceiving you. The former megastar of porn, the wonderful Sasha Grey was not giving a blowie – as one might have thought or expected – she was, rather, sincerely presenting her views and diligently enlightening the masses on the current state of our culture. This is not the beginning of some sick and twisted joke. Far from it. These are dead cold facts. And I have evidence to prove it.
According to the local reports (see – <a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QfBx3gdiNQ</a> ), the building – in which our heroine appeared – was packed with listeners, journalists and other media representatives. Not everyone got in to see the history unfolding right in front of their eyes. The less fortunate had to wait outside for their chance to receive an expert advice on proper being and authentic living.
What follows next should be viewed in the tradition of Demosthenes’ Philippics and Cicero’s letters, Lincoln’s Gettysburg address and Martin Luther King Jr‘s speech “I have a dream”. The Yekaterinburg lecture of Sasha Grey is nothing short of brilliance. Before all is said and done, it will go down in history as one of the greatest orations of modern times. Obama’s ghostwriter should really take notes on how to generate a devoted following and an electrifying magnetism beyond the borders of Washington.
But before I present to you the partial transcript of Miss Grey’s lecture, remember that you read it first here. So, when one fine day my words come true and I acquire a halo of a prophet, you are fully entitled to confess: “Magnus was my master.”
That’s it. My job is done. Sasha will take over from now on. I present for your consideration and enjoyment her Yekaterinburg lecture:
I feel that we no longer have artists, we have products…There was a time when I sincerely thought I could combine art and commerce. So I could truly make my art, which I saw in making and performing adult films… I really felt like the world was in front of me. The world was my oyster and I could create my art and make a living and become a product – something sustainable that could go on and on…. And I don’t know. Call it cynicism. Call it being jaded. [But] I don’t know whether I truly believe in that anymore. We first saw the music industry crash, then porn and traditional cinema at the same time and obviously a large part of that has to do with piracy. We have… a lack of artists. We don’t have people out there that are willing to fight tooth and nail to realize their dream. We don’t really have storytellers anymore. Everything is based on business now…
One of my heroes, Jean Luc Godard, he would give a studio executive a script and say: “Yeah, yeah, this is what we are shooting” to get his film financed and he would go often and make a completely different film… and that spirit, that rock and roll energy, that ethos whether it be film-making or music has completely died …
A large part of the way the film business works is – a company starts with a script… from a really talented writer from a really small town that nobody knows or, conversely, from one of the best and hottest writers in town and they look at their numbers, what they are willing to risk and what they are not willing to risk. So often times they take some kid who made one edgy short film in college and say: “Lets put him on this and we are going to make him a great director.” They market it. They show us trailers… You know… They create a product out of the film before the film is even released. Cinema is not captured in the bottle of water, in a bottle of coke or in your potato chips that you get for 99 cents… and that drags me down, man… and that really has ruined art.
Again, I keep going back to cinema and music because it’s such a fine line now. Everything is based on the commerce. So, studios’ will take young directors because if the film fails, it’s not the studios’ fault, it’s this artist who really isn’t talented. So, we are going to blame it on him. While throughout the entire film-making process that person doesn’t really have any decision making skills. Most movies you see in the theater go through a series of tests. I am sure everybody in this room has seen Hangover. It’s a great comedy. It’s hilarious. It’s one of the best comedies in the last ten years. Call me dark, whatever… I think it would be great if at the end of the film the groom was found dead at the top of that hotel. I think that’s funny… I am sick of happy endings. Life is hard. And that’s a prime example – you have a great film like that, that has all the right pieces but they know – there’s an 80 percent of chance this movie is going to be a huge hit because they did all the right testing. We can’t kill off the groom. We can’t kill off the main character… Then we don’t have a sequel. There goes our business. Then we don’t have a trilogy. So, we cannot make the third film. …And that’s testing gone good…
I have a friend who’s a comedy writer, he’s done a lot of films, has written a lot films you have probably all seen and he wrote a hot script everybody in town, in Los Angeles, is talking about this script. Several studios were fighting actually to get the rights to make this film. They had the best cast … They casted one of the actors based on the number of his twitter followers … They saw that he had one and a half, two million twitter followers, so they figured he’ll be a great business, because even if we get one million of those followers to pay ten dollars for a movie ticket, we’ve made our money back. No problem. They made the film. They went into testing. The film tested through the roof. Nobody wanted any re-shoots. The film was on paper a hit. The film bombed. When the film was released, it bombed and who got blamed? The director. The man that everybody was talking about six months prior, hasn’t made a film since. And that’s a problem.
Whether you are talking about film or music, we are all so afraid to take chances anymore, because we are too concerned about… putting food on the table, having a roof over our head. Gone are they days of artists who make music or film because they love it. A lot of people say, the audience has a large part to do with it, the audience dictates what’s put out into this world and that’s for the large part is really true but I have a friend named Chelsea. She has a band called Chelsea Wolfe and to me this is a prime example of one of the last real standing artists… She really goes out and makes music that is dear to her, that means something to her, not because she is trying to package herself as a pop idol. She’s not trying to present her in certain way, she only tries to grow and refine herself in the way that makes her feel comfortable. She has all the necessary components in her life and career. She has a manager, she has a label, she goes on tours but she still maintains that artistic integrity. But how many people in this room have heard of Chelsea Wolfe? …[silence in the room]… That’s really sad. That brings sorrow to my heart… So, that’s just another example of the way the information spreads. It spreads so fast and we are no longer interested in quality and that’s where we, the audience, is to be blamed. We are to be blamed for the lack of authenticity. So while maybe earlier or a few week ago I was concerned about my responsibility in giving back, but what about the people’s responsibility. What do we want to contribute? What do we want to change? I don’t know if any of us have the answer for that. I truly don’t. I don’t want to be stuck on the past, but I do believe there are still authentic musicians. I still believe there are authentic directors and storytellers out there but we have just to try a little bit harder to discover those people. And I guess when I think about my responsibility and what I want to give back to my audience and to my fans I feel like I accomplished a small set of my goals early on in my career before I quitted porn and now that I quitted and transitioned in to traditional acting and music, I think it’s great that message I want to spread is still continuing and that makes me really happy. But I want to continue to to give back and I guess that’s why I am passionate about producing now, because I want to give back to other artists, undiscovered artists who don’t have the power of one million twitter followers. I am thinking about filmmakers like this young man named Frankie Latina, who is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and he approached my management to put me in a movie. And naturally I googled his name, there wasn’t much information about him other than that he did a small independent film with Danny Trejo…
This little kid made this little film because he was inspired. Because he had to. Because there was something inside of him that said – I have to make this… I have never lost that feeling – whether I am acting in a film, whether I am writing a book or whether I am producing a film to help somebody else to realize their dream, because nobody else believes in them.
Go, now! Go! Look up the people and things that Sasha mentioned in her lecture – like Steven Soderbergh’s late address on the state of cinema, Chelsea Wolfe and Frankie Latina. You may also want to check out Miss Grey’s debut novel “The Juliette Society”. But there’s no transcript for that.
Watch the full Yekaterinburg lecture here: