A week ago, I grabbed a sharpie and some cardboard and stood on a corner just waiting for the chance to be heard. No one stopped. No cameras rolled. And Kraft didn't come calling asking me to do a VO. Strange. Thought for sure that would work.
I'm a huge fan of the story of Ted Williams. It's one so full of tangents and angles and ways to gain perspectives on humanity. The story is about fame, grassroots technologies, our industry, and our view of those who live on the streets.
Most recently, Ted's story took us to family. Giving us ringside seats into a domestic fireball of history. An altercation between a father who abandon a daughter and a daughter who still wanted something. Police were notified, both were detained and eventually they each walked away. Who among us hasn't had pretty harsh words with our kin? Who among us doesn't understand how this was bound to happen eventually.
A lot of folks are relishing the unfortunate evening and all it brings. Including William's decision to strive to stay clean. As if they were waiting with bated breath to be validated in their smug elite view of men like this. After all, it was just a matter of time before the true Ted Williams came into our view. A man who couldn't possibly be worthy of fame or position compared to the many "harder workers" in our industry.
You know, the people who slaved away at their talents and still can't catch their big break. The folks who lost their jobs through corporate change. The cats who plug away daily and still don't have pay. What right has Ted Williams got to jump to the front of this long line of struggling men and women who made different choices than him? It isn't fair, they say.
Of course it isn't. Life isn't about what is fair. And this industry has never been about what is fair. Sure, hard work and tenacity goes a long way. But so does cardboard sign kind of marketing. Apparently.
Kudos to Ted for having the foresight to take advantage of the only social network he had. The old fashioned soap box. The literal human billboard campaign. He capitalized on the volume of traffic and knew sooner or later, someone would stop. And when someone did, he didn't just show them his resume scribbled on whatever he had, he also auditioned. And didn't do so bad.
Right place. Right time. Backed up with the pipes.
Brilliant. And the exact kind of campaigning we teach those new to any industry.
So why the bitterness over Ted's success?
Because the biggest aspect of this story is one most want to forget. Our own failings and shame in how we view those different than us. In how we like to label and laugh and group some as worth less. In how we see the homeless.
Ted's story went viral not because of his talent or skill. But because an expectation was exceeded and it didn't seem real. How could someone like that...possibly... I mean....
It's Boyle all over again. Viewing another human being as less than and then being surprised when they are more than you cared to see.
If you don't know what it is to be homeless and willing to peddle for food, shelter or even just a great high to feel a bit of independence... then it's easy to look down upon this man as some sort of "unworthy" of the success that came his way. If you view a person who traded in domesticity for addiction as some sort of blemish on the back of society... then it's easy to see Ted as a has been. If you can't appreciate the stories of the streets, and the vast degree of complexity that comes with survival on no more than pennies... then of course you will view the man on a street corner who hasn't showered as a low rate version of a human being.
But if you take a look at Ted as a guy who survives. And tries. And just does that differently...
Then you open your eyes and realize the only reason Ted even became a story is because we want to rank and rate each other with a standard that says more about our vanity and greed than any feel good Cinderella story we pretend we believe.
Williams has reportedly signed on for a Reality Project from TMZ: "Second Chances at Life."