Maps to the Stars: David Cronenberg on the Conundrum of Fame
David Cronenberg began his career with intellectual short films, and deeply physical horror movies about the human body. But although he may still be best known for shockers like The Fly, Videodrome and Scanners, his output in the 21st century has been much more focus on the social experience, dissecting the alien worlds of the 1% in Cosmopolis, the psychology of the first psychologist in A Dangerous Method and the propensity for violence in the aptly titled A History of Violence.
This week, David Cronenberg is back with Maps to the Stars, a film which stars Oscar-winner Julianne Moore as an actress desperately trying to stay relevant, John Cusack as a self-help guru who may need more help than he lets on, Evan Bird as a child star with disturbing emotional issues and Mia Wasikowska as the burn victim who could either unite them all, or possibly tear them apart.
It was an ideal opportunity to catch up with David Cronenberg and discuss in detail his own thoughts on the new and unusual world of celebrity in this modern era. We also brought back up the recent, headline-making quote from Cronenberg about the nature of online film criticism, and got the filmmaker to clarify his thoughts on whether the democratization of online discourse has actually sullied the medium.
CraveOnline: It strikes me that there is an inherent irony in Maps to the Stars, that these characters all want to be in the public eye, but for the most part they are terrified of being exposed.
David Cronenberg: Yes.
Is that why it had to be in Hollywood?
Well, you saw what happened with Sony and the hacked emails. [Laughs.] I almost don’t have to say anything else. I mean, it’s a question of creating a persona, an identity that’s public, that’s up for grabs, that people own, and that they think is the real you, and that’s even been exacerbated these days by Twitter and Facebook and all of that, where people really feel that they’re really in the hearts and minds of these celebrities who, in the old days, would have been like up on a mountain, far away. Marilyn Monroe, you wouldn’t get to see too many interviews with her, or talk to her. Certainly you, the public, wouldn’t be able to connect directly with her through Twitter, let’s say, and now you can.
But can anybody really withstand that? Can anybody really allow themselves to be so accessible from top to bottom, and inside and out? I think nobody really can. But that is maybe not so much an irony as a conundrum, you know?
Have you experienced anything like that conundrum? You are somewhat in the public eye, as a famous director.
So do you bring something of yourself to this film?
Not really. I mean, I don’t Twitter, I don’t tweet, and I’m not on Facebook, and I don’t do Instagram. It’s only because I don’t want to be that accessible. I don’t feel it’s necessary and I don’t even have a website promoting me and my work, which so many people do whether they’re novelists or David Bowie or whoever, you know? I do have some reclusive tendencies [laughs], which I think many novelists do. I think it’s just finding a balance that you feel is appropriate to who you are, if you feel comfortable being this exposed or that exposed.
So it’s not the same for everything but you can see there’s so many instances of people doing a spontaneous tweet and then regretting it for months, or the rest of their lives actually. It’s an interesting era that we’re in right now. This is not certainly the way things were when I started out as a filmmaker and did my first interviews when I had just made one underground film.