Simon Visits Melissa Hart
I hit ‘random article’ on Wikipedia and then rant about whatever I see. This week: Melissa Hart. It's a pretty big tell when the first sentence on your Wikipedia page begins "Not to be confused with." My name is Simon Kamerow, a name which I believe I alone possess and so I rarely have to suffer the indignities of someone saying "Oh are you that Simon Kamerow?" How painful it must be for Ms. Hart that whenever she sends in her resume the casting director reads it with a brief moment of hope followed by several longer moments of crumpling and moving it into a trash can after it is discovered that Ms. Hart is not, in fact, Sabrina the teenage witch.
To avoid any further confusion, Melissa Joan Hart will be referred to as Melissa Joan Hart and, as a quick google search has revealed this as an applicable nickname, Melissa Hart will be referred to as Silver Fox.
The ironic thing is that Silver Fox is being confused with someone who is generally regarded as talentless, and, as far as superficial judgements go, is really not that hot. I don't think Sabrina the Teenage Witch ever attracted viewers because Melissa Joan Hart was sexy. She wasn't. Yet still her name has been recorded in the minds of far more people than Silver Fox.
And the worst part?
Silver Fox is probably pretty fucking good. She's appeared on Broadway since 1966 and has been nominated for a Tony, which I've heard from the four people who watch the Tonys is an impressive accomplishment. She has lived a long and assumedly fulfilling life except for the fact that no one knows who she is.
My understanding of acting as a profession is limited, but from what I can divine from that one episode of Inside the Actor's Studio I watched, actors are not trying to end world hunger. Acting is not a profession that has any pretentious claims about making the world a better place or providing housing for the poor, it is what an audacious first-year Economics student would call a "result of prolonged surplus."
Acting is the type of profession that needs more than one person to exist, and thus we come to the unfortunate truth that Silver Fox has to face every day of her life: actors need audiences.
And who is the audience of Silver Fox?
There was a movie released in 1996 called Original Gangstas. It stars Fred Williamson and Pam Grier along with other former Blaxploitation stars. That's the gimmick of the film; people wrapped with nostalgia for Blaxploitation want to see their former heroes still kicking ass.
But the movie failed, like so many futile exercises in nostalgia do, largely because what was is often not as resplendent as we remembered it and, unfortunately, human beings are not like wine. We are spoiled with age, rotten and dying, and if this seems harsh to you, ask yourself why professional athletes retire before 40 or why porn stars have a shorter shelf-life than yogurt.
When I was reading about Silver Fox I briefly imagined a scenario where she was cast in some sort of revival show on Broadway and the youth of today that grew up with whispers of her greatness would flock to that street in New York to see her perform one final time. But then I realized that even if she was still capable of performing, even if she had been miraculously preserved, no one knows who she is.
There would be a small amount of confusion regarding why Melissa Joan Hart was in this production. And as Silver Fox took the stage and looked out on the audience it would probably hit her that she missed her chance. Her singing wasn't that beautiful or her acting wasn't that convincing or maybe she gave poor blowjobs, but she missed the boat of immortality. And at that moment, when she stepped out on stage and opened her mouth to sing and one person flashed her a look of puzzled confusion because she never portrayed Sabrina, the Teenage Witch -- at that moment she would remember that when you step off a dock and miss the boat you fall into the water.
That's where Silver Fox has been, desperately treading water for more than half a century and I can't help but imagine that her limbs are tired, and suddenly the boat seems impossibly far away and the water of anonymity and obscurity that once shocked her body with its coldness now seems much warmer and far more comfortable. She realizes that her legs have stopped kicking and she lets herself sink down, the water washing over her like the applause she so desperately craved for so long.
I spend a lot of time on that dock, looking down at the boats sailing away and I've noticed how the calm the water is. Despite all who have drowned, there isn't even so much as a bubble.
Simon is also the genius behind the blog “Some Children Left Behind,” a resplendent collection of literature and poetry. He can also play the banjo.