A Cinecle View – Hacks and posers: In defense of James Van Der Beek
I was never a Dawson’s Creek watcher.
For very weird reasons that would take too long to explain, I’ve only ever seen the series finale. Okay, it wouldn’t take too long and it isn’t that weird, but the world is already overflowing with tales of dudes enduring shit that they loathe because the woman that they’re trying to convince of their sponge-worthiness is into it, and for sure no one’s getting naked before the Taylor Swift CD/Dawson’s Creek finale/Grandma’s funeral is over.
Anyway, I only ever watched the finale, could not have cared less, still didn’t score.
But something happened this week that compelled me to climb atop my digital soapbox and defend the honor of the man who brought that show’s titular character – no, not the Creek, the Dawson – to life:
Just … wow.
Look, admittedly I’m not very well travelled outside of North America. Maybe members of the British media think that introducing a guest as a has-been-one-hit-wonder is flattery. Except, that can’t be right, because when Van Der Beek called presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby out on their assertion that his career has gone nowhere next to his fellow Creek alums, Schofield offered up the lamest defense imaginable for the demeaning intro:
Van Der Beek: I … I have been on television the last 20 years …
Schofield: We know that, but it worked better as a link.
So, it’s okay to insult your guest if you the host, and the writers and producers of This Morning are incapable of coming up with a ham-fisted introduction with less cruelty – gotcha!
Obviously, Van Der Beek has made less big splashes in the Hollywood pond than his Creek castmates, but he’s made a ton of medium-sized splashes.
Sure, Jen’s got some Oscar noms and is raising her daughter from the Joker. And yes, Pacey is on The Affair and before that, was getting lost in every scene he shared with John Noble on Fringe. And not to be outdone, Joey not only treaded water in Batman Begins, but she actually acquitted herself nicely in The Kennedy’s, a season of Ray Donovan and the tabloids in the role of The-Most-Recent-Ex-Mrs-Cruise-Rumored-Future-Mrs-Bishop.
But James hasn’t exactly been coasting on his Dawsoness; he’s been involved in far more projects (39) since the end of Dawson’s Creek than Pacey (22), Joey (27) or Jen (28).
Yes, the argument could be made that he’s been in more stuff because the others have been in more successful and/or longer-running projects, but it’s not like you can credit any of them with solo wins.
With Ruth Wilson, Dominic West and Maura Tierney making up the rest of the squad, Pacey sure as shit isn’t carrying The Affair. Joey had Greg Kinnear in The Kennedy’s and Matthew Perry in the sequel. Jen had Casey (ALLEGEDLY) “No Means Maybe” Affleck in Manchester By The Sea. Film and television are not solo endeavors.
It’s absolutely true that he hasn’t had a comparable gig, but that isn’t necessarily a referendum on his ability as an actor; a lot of show business is timing and luck. He was fine on The Big Bang Theory; he KILLED (no pun intended) on a two part Criminal Minds; and from what friends who were fans of the short-lived Don’t Trust The B**** In Apartment 23 tell me, he was great in that, too.
The point is, I’m not a talk show producer or presenter, and yet I managed to find everyone’s resume in a matter of seconds, so did This Morning have to insult the guest to create a segue?
And when his own IMDB page shows that his acting range outside of his day job as talkshow presenter is limited to eight credits, six of which are made up of the complex roles of “Phillip Schofield”, “TV Announcer” and “TV Presenter,” should Phillip Schofield really be the guy reading a condescending “what have you accomplished in acting lately” intro for anyone?
That wasn’t a rhetorical question, the answer is “FUCKING NO, YOU SHALLOW, NO RESEARCH DOING, HACK!”
I admit, I may be a little sensitive about this because of an experience that I had about two years ago. I dropped into my local Guitar Center on a weekday afternoon to purchase a dual XLR to stereo mini cable as a temporary audio solution for a video shoot. The Guitar Center Guy (GCG) that helped me looked familiar, so, naturally …
Me: You look really familiar …
GCG: You, too.
Me: Where did you work before here?
Me: No, before here.
His creepy refusal to tell me where he previously worked actually spurred my memory …
Me: (NAME REDACTED)?
Me: Tony – you used to work for me at (PLACE REDACTED)
For four years of my life I managed a mail-order warehouse. GCG pulled orders from 10 am to 6 pm Sunday through Thursday and played guitar in a band on weekends.
GCG: So, where are you now?
Me: I’m an advertising copywriter and filmmaker for a brewery in Baltimore.
GCG: Didn’t you want to make features?
Me: Yeah, but nothing’s worked out … yet.
GCG: So then you’re not actually a filmmaker.
I stood there in stunned silence …
Me: Well, I’ve paid my mortgage for the last 10 years writing, producing, directing, shooting and editing almost 300 short films over which I’ve had almost complete creative control, so, it could be worse … I could just be selling cameras to people who actually make their living with them.
That would have been so badass if I’d actually said that last thing instead of just thinking it.
Never let the hacks and posers get you down, James Van Der Beek.
Tony Marion is a writer and filmmaker who splits time between Lancaster, PA and Baltimore, MD. He lives for the work of Descendents (the band), Chuck Palahniuk and Rian Johnson. Check out the digital embodiment of procrastination he calls his website here.