Denzel Washington Blasts 'Difficulty' of Filmmaking: 'Send Your Son to Iraq...That's Difficult'

January 8, 2017

During a roundtable interview for The Hollywood Reporter, actor Denzel Washington was asked about his worst jobs. He replied:

"I was a garbage man...you get eight hours of work, but you can do it in three. So you can go home as soon as you finish. Post office, you get three hours of work, and you make it last eight. I did both. I liked being a garbage man better."

Then Washington made a salient point about the film and television industry:

"They weren't bad jobs. Just like people say: 'Oh, the difficulty of making a movie.' I'm like, listen, send your son to Iraq--that's difficult. It's just a movie. It's like, relax. I don't play that precious nonsense. It's like, oh, a movie. Get outta here. Your son got shot in the face? That's difficult. Making a movie is a luxury; it's a gift. It's an opportunity, and most importantly, it's a gift. Obviously, everybody here is talented enough to do that, but don't get it twisted. It's just a movie. It ain't that big a deal."

It's important to analyze what Washington said. There are those in the film and television industry who act as if their job is the most important in the world, and there are those outside the industry who deride the work of actors, often claiming they "play pretend like a 6-year-old for a living." Neither is correct.

Acting is not an "easy" job. It requires talent and many hours of work--that is, if you even get a job at all. Acting can also be an incredibly demoralizing career. Facing personal rejection on a daily basis leads many actors to quit after several years, and hundreds of unsuccessful auditions.

Perhaps more critically, film and television serve an important purpose in a healthy society. Movies and TV act as a platform for issues many Americans may not even think about. They also have the ability to change viewers' perspectives. After seeing "American Sniper" or "Lone Survivor," someone who has an unfavorable view of those in the military may come to see the humanity of those who serve. Similarly, someone who sees Clint Eastwood in "True Crime" might leave the theater with a different opinion of the death penalty than when they entered.

Film is indeed a powerful medium that can change lives. On the other hand, acting and making movies aren't the most important jobs in the world. No rational person can possibly believe that. As Washington said, serving in the military is hard--so is being an engineer, a construction worker, a doctor, a teacher, a business-owner, and a social worker for the mentally ill. All jobs have integrity, and various levels of necessity in a functioning society.

Being an actor isn't as necessary to society as being a doctor or a service member. That being said, it's not wrong to talk about the difficulty of being an actor or filmmaker so long as one has the correct perspective, and doesn't become, as Washington noted, "twisted," believing their difficulties are of more importance than those of other professions, specifically service-based professions.

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