Sunday, May 12, 2013


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Beantown back in the day, groups of moneyed white kids of college age would stand on sidewalks in places like Harvard Square, beg passerby for change 'for a new Maserati' or 'for bullets, so I can kill myself, cuz I'm depressed'. I could only surmise this was a new and strange form of performance art which both baffled and infuriated me at the time (being an embryonic PR straight out Da Bronx), and I said to a particularly aggressive and insouciant gang once, 'You should try that in Harlem, see how long you last'. Those 'kids', no doubt, are lawyers, politicians (redundant?), corporate execs now. And perhaps ex-TV actors turned film auteurs.

By all accounts (which include techie folks I've both overheard and spoken to directly), Zach Braff is a mensch. To this eye, he was thoughtful writer/performer, bona fide blue blood celeb 'for the people', jokester, fellow OCD sufferer. But he obviously didn't, doesn't, and probably never will realize the implications of this offense.

It belied a lack of commitment, imagination, artistic character, appreciation for his clearly devoted fans, respect for his filmmaking peers. 

I've artist friends literally sell their bodies - on streets and in labs - to fund projects. Mr. Braff believed in his piece so much, he should've invested his Oz the Great and Powerful paycheck, mortgaged one of his homes, sold his share of a bar, called in favors to close friends, colleagues, associates (which include Natalie Portman, Heather Graham and Mandy Moore), perhaps pooled Scrubs residuals with bff Faison.

Mr. Braff doesn't strike me as a greedy, manipulative dude, just a lazy, ignorant one - a Capitalist believes himself an Artist. 

The argument that his fleece possibly brought attention to and promoted crowd funding sites is irrelevant - the average Joe will not donate dough towards a New York street story or a doc on human trafficking, but to her or his favourite TV and/or movie star or glamorous famous-for-being-famous celeb (same way over four million people voted Schwarzenegger in as Governor of California a decade ago - an unprecedented electoral landslide). 

It's not about us commoners thinking Mr. Braff was able to reach into his L.L. Beans and pull out two mil (though he had no qualms about paying at least that to procure and remodel a 'legendary' second home for himself and supermodel Taylor Bagley in New York City - see here). Or his disregard for those starving, hungry artists lack both his monetary means and inside connections. But the possible ripple effect of this kind of white collar panhandling. Crowd funding sites jacking up their percentage fees and/or nixing 'little' projects based on the popularity of those involved (via social media data mining). Tween millionaires Kickstarting stars on Hollywood Boulevard. Brian Grazer on RocketHub for Ron Howard's latest. Spielberg on Indiegogo for Indiana Jones 5 (6?). 

For the record, I am not envious of Zach Braff (I'm a far bolder writer, director, and performer, for one). Speaking personally, however, this is indeed incomprehensible. For moi, the work is everything. I live in a bunker two steps below hovel. I have no things, other than some boxes of DVDs. But unlike Mr. Braff, I did not grow up with things. Again, for me, the work is THE thing. I've sold blood and cum and aforementioned DVDs to facilitate the work - short films, Off Broadway readings, photography equipment, time, space. However, our experiences and how we relate to the work isn't what this is about. With perspective: this was a smooth sell robbery, a Wall Street trader asking a blind man in a wheelchair for cash from his can to procure a caramel macchiato. 

And ultimately, it was a wholly unnecessary act - with powerhouse producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Get Shorty) in tow, it would've taken decidedly less than the three days it took on Kickstarter to make his two-plus mil.

That said, he did not hold guns to 'investor' heads. We are all enablers of the celebrity mindset and culture. 

Alas, the facts are moot. As is my meager opinion. The world turns. The film will be made. It will garner acclaim. Investors will be pleased. Zachary Braff will reign supreme. And if not, well, he'll bounce back.

I wish him only continued success.  

Zach Braff is a Genius. 

Zach Braff is a Winner. 

Zach Braff is just like us. 

Zach Braff is Badass.