Corey Haim and Lost Boy Syndrome

Posted in Diary of a Directrix
March 10th, 2010 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

CoreyHaimLittleFucker smHow depressing that the headlines read “Ex-Child Star Corey Haim dies” rather than “Actor Corey Haim dies.”  Did the last 20 years of his work and life not count for anything?  A couple months back, Audrey Whitby, trippin’s own “l’il effer,” blogged about Corey Haim, ultimately concluding he was her good luck charm.  It shared an optimistic perspective on child actors.  This should come as no surprise, Audrey’s a glass-half-full kind of girl.   Her positive outlook, love of her craft, immense talent and supportive, caring family will guide her along this Hollywood journey that leads so many astray – “Lost Boy Syndrome” would not be a bad name for it, though I don’t think it’s limited to child stars.

willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-20091006005136407_640wChild actors, and frequently their parents, get a bad rap.  In some cases, one can understand why.  Being a child star must be much like winning a gold ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.  With so many temptations, it must be particularly difficult for a young ’un to think things through and use the best judgment.  Don’t we learn many of life’s valuable lessons through trial and error after all? The difference is most of us don’t have to make our mistakes in the public spotlight where we’re more likely to be crucified for it.

britney-spears-feo-traseroHowever, I think we put far too much emphasis on the dysfunction of “child actors.”  I don’t think it’s about age so much as the cold, harsh reality of life in an unforgiving industry that delights in exploiting the very folks it puts up on a pedestal.  And really, are those of us NOT in the spotlight behaving so differently?

125060-andy_warholNow, I don’t spend tons of time hob-nobbing with the rich and famous, yet I’ve met more than a few folks out here that exhibit many of the same symptoms as fallen child stars.  I know a lot of people I suspect are already “has-beens” without ever having truly “made it.” (premature has-beens?)  Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame simply don’t buy what they used to in these over-saturated media days of Youtube and reality TV.  People who come here with so much hope, promise and belief in their art, suddenly turn bitter, desperate, insecure,  become a “Lost Boy.”

soap4I think a lot of it ultimately comes down to WHY a person does what s/he does.  Those of us who would write and make movies whether it’s on a budget of $3 shot in our backyard, or 30 bijilion dollars on a fancy studio lot simply because we love it so much tend to fare better.  We don’t rely on others’ approval to find fulfillment in life.  We are responsible for our own happiness.  We also don’t obsess over comparing our progress to that of others, we are not competing or trying to prove something, we are not doing what we think we ought, but rather what we know we love.  It’s not out of desperation, it’s out of an organic need to express ourselves artistically, or perhaps simply because we love running around with a camera creating make-believe worlds (often times involving banana costumes), or both.

92365470.qJ2kvTid.TorturedArtistBW16k4a46Others, many whose bad advice I took when I first arrived (d’oh!), are setting themselves up for heartache and disappointment.  I meet so many people who seem to derive no real pleasure from filmmaking.  I kid you not, I know directors who’ve told me, “I hate auditions!” “I can’t stand actors.” “Ugh, my crew are all incompetent a-holes!” and to paraphrase another sentiment, “Poor me, I’m all alone, misunderstood, a tortured, angst-ridden independent filmmaker.”  Yuck!  So why do it then?  There are so many far easier, stable and more lucrative career paths to pursue.  Why torture one’s self with the inevitable rejection, disappointment and heartbreak that comes hand in hand with trying to “live the dream” if it’s not truly one’s dream?  When you stop “doing it for love” and start trying to do what you think will get you ahead, chances are, whether that works or not, it’s ultimately not going to bring happiness and fulfillment anyway.

WhatToDo-v3_DavePollardI think being a successful artist is much like falling in love.  If you don’t love yourself first, you’re not likely to successfully love and be loved by another.    And if a relationship clearly isn’t working, why fight for it?  Time to cut bait and swim on, eh?   I swear I think there are as many people here trying to make it out of sheer stubbornness than a love of the craft anymore.  If they give up, it means they’ve failed – no matter that it’s making them miserable.  But isn’t that a worse failure?  ’tis sad.  And infuriating.  Aren’t there enough crappy films being made for the wrong reasons as it is?  But, as is my way, I digress.  Back to Mr. Haim…

352089916_f86b417f03I didn’t know Corey Haim.  Maybe he enjoyed doing The Two Coreys and a cheesy remake/sequel of Lost Boys a few years back.  But, I imagine, the talented actor who exhibited such a promising start in movies like Lucas probably would have gotten more of a “natural high” from finding (or creating) more challenging and fulfilling roles.  I love that moment in Lost in Translation when Bill Murray’s character, in Tokyo to shoot a cheesy commercial, remarks, “I should be doing plays.”  I wonder how many actors, artists in general,  have that moment?

31Audrey may just be right.  Perhaps Corey Haim is her good luck charm.  Because of him, she now has a written account of a time when she is filled with hope and excitement and endless possibilities. Perhaps she will reread her entry on the occasional day when optimism is harder to come by and remember what Corey may have forgotten along the way.  Ironically, I just revisited Lucas a few weeks back. I was so impressed by its innocence and heart.  It’s not so much about the rest of the movie as it is about the memorable character Lucas himself.   He’s one of the most romantic characters I’ve seen in a long time – genuine, passionate, fearless.  Do they still make kids like that, I hope?  There our hero doesn’t seem like a lost boy at all.  I hope that’s how Audrey will remember him.  It’s how I will.

4 Responses to “Corey Haim and Lost Boy Syndrome”

  1. Barbie Wilde says:

    Hi Devi,

    I met Corey and his mum at Rock n Shock near Boston and then a week later at Spooky Empire in Orlando in 2008. They were both adorable and Corey was such a sweet, gentle guy. I was very upset to read about his death.

    I’ve just come across this posting and how eloquent you are – not only about Corey, but being an artist as well.

  2. Well said Devi! I am sorry to see Corey died, and what the Hollywood system does to people.

    I have been thinking alot recently about my motivations for working in film, and it has come down to me wanting to stick to doing what I love, and not focusing so much on what pays the most. So many people tell me I should go to Hollywood, and I just think to myself how hard it would be to not get burned out and hateful of my work and the industry there. I love independent film and recently I have been involved with many student films, and it has been great, much more fulfilling, and I get to have more creative input and freedom.

  3. Susan Whitby says:

    Hey Devi, As Audrey’s mom and the parent of a child actor, I can appreciate what you just wrote. It is true that this is a harsh industry full of rejection that isn’t for everyone and not suitable for most kids. I hope to give Audrey the support she needs letting her know that everyday is a gift to enjoy with or without Hollywood. Her value is what she makes it, and isn’t connected to booking a role.
    We did meet Corey and his mom a couple of times and they both were so kind to us. His mother was still obviously very proud of her son as we told him how much we loved him in “Lost Boys” and he graciously thanked us and wished the girls all the best Hollywood has to offer. Our family is very sad today at the loss of such a talent. He will always be remembered as our favorite Lost Boy.

  4. Well said Devi. It’s almost like you should be a writer or something. :)

Leave a Reply