Elia Kazan: The Great God Is Money

From Artistic Suicide


You know, we can kick this shit around all day long, but here is the truth of the matter, of all matters in the world: It's about money. That chilling line that arose from the Watergate affair: Follow the money. Very true. Always follow the money, and we all do. The great God is money. The great aphrodisiac is money. The world is run and controlled by those who have access to the most money. Accept this and adapt to it. It is simply how it always has been and always will be.

Now before you run off and throw yourself in front of a train or a bus, know that talent trumps money, and in the theatre or in film, the men with the money can't gain any power  or retain it  if they don't have some talent--which is to say flesh--to throw before the people. So have some talent. If you don't have any talent, develop some sort of skill that is useful to people--primarily, raising money. Or painting sets. Or getting coffee for the people who have talent. Know your place if you demand a place in the arts.

So talent wears the crown in the theatre, but someone has to buy the crown, and that is the guy with the money. I don't kiss ass well: I did a bit of it with the repertory company [at Lincoln Center] and I hated it and I failed at it. I refuse to discuss theatre with society ladies and failed performers. I don't kiss ass, but I pull my talent out and tell them why I need their money. You get rejected more times than you are hired, but it's the only honorable way to deal with the bastards: I'll show you mine if you show me yours. Here's my talent; give me some money to do something with it. That's how it works, and I'm sure it's how it will always work.

There is no art in the world that is worth kissing bad ass. Better to stuff your plays or your paintings in a drawer than to kiss bad ass. You'll know I'm right after you've puckered up and planted a few on some rancid ass. Better to be hungry than to be a whore. I've been both, and hungry feels better. 

Don't play the games. Do your work and do it well. Rise above the shit, but remember that life is a gladiatorial sport, and you can come in with integrity and ideals, but also come in with a spine of steel and a big club, and that club should be your talent.

Talent is the greatest ingredient, but it won't get in the arena without money, so learn how to play with the money, operate with the money, swerve around the money. If you're really good, you'll have a period of time where you won't have to fight for the money any longer: It will come to you.

But then it will stop, and you'll have to start all over again.

Ask yourself if you really think you're talented enough to keep this shit up for the rest of your artistic life.

There's the truth.

©2013 by James Grissom


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