Our genes tell us to show obeisance before power. Which is why the majority of job applicants for any highly desirable gig tend to imitate the behavior of those who’ve already succeeded in the field. Which usually means acting perky, smiling a lot, kowtowing, groveling and…did I mention the tendency to smile? Then there are your X-factor applicants. They tend to exude confidence and centered-ness. They look smart, talk smart, don’t necessarily smile unless there’s something to smile about and look you straight in the eye. Applicants who are just…themselves.
Consider these ten video reels of college-student applicants looking to land a special red-carpet Oscar gig that’s being offered by mtvU. But consider in particular the audition tape of one David Distenfeld, a junior at Duke University.
Distenfeld obviously loves Oscar culture, knows his shit, and talks like a seasoned and intelligent adult. He’s probably capable of kowtowing in a pinch, but it doesn’t seem to be in his nature. He’s not a journalism student (he’s actually studying filmmaking) but he’s a chip off the Ebert block.
Now consider the other nine applicants — NYU freshman Diana Snyder, Bowling Green State University’s Nicole Lovince, Drexel University’s Dylan Steinberg, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s Chantell Black, University of Miami’s Nick Maslow, Fordham University’s Justin Shackil, Rice University’s Fateem Ahmed, San Diego State University’s Megan Telles and the University of Cincinatti’s Rachel Alig.
Every one of these kids is trying their best to act like an E! or Access Hollywood interviewer. And they have it down pretty well. They all have that empty, fluffy, celebrity-worshipping, bullshit ice-cream attitude that every executive producer of every TV entertainment show tends to like and hire. They all suffer from Ben Lyons disease (which, trust me, will probably lead to high-paying gigs for most of them when they get out of school).
If you care (and I know it’s much hipper not to) please help stamp out the Stepford virus and vote for Distenfeld. You’ll be helping to shape the tone of future TV entertainment coverage if you do.
Smart employers always hire the X-factor types. Because they’re the ones who (a) will probably do the best job and (b) will probably resign within 18 months to take a higher-paying job (or one with better opportunities). It goes without saying that most employers tend to hire the imitative chimpanzees because they like being bowed down to. This is one reason why the world is so fucked up — i.e., the wrong people have the best jobs. A confederacy of clones.