What's the Deal with All the Adam Driver Discourse?
I need to come clean here. Adam Driver does not elicit a strong reaction from me. I don’t spend my time thinking about him, or his work. I don’t seek out things that he’s in. I think he’s OK as Kylo. In fact, I think he’s OK in general when, for whatever reason, he comes up in conversation. (It’s not often, I’ll be honest. Does he come up in conversation for you a lot? I’m genuinely curious.)
However, I do not think he’s exceptional, nor the actor of our generation, which is explored in Anne Helen Petersen’s newest piece for Buzzfeed, “Adam Driver Really Might Be *The* Actor Of His Generation.”
In the piece, Driver is described thusly:
What makes Driver exceptional isn’t just his size, or his Renaissance painting of a face, or his voice. It’s the way he manages to make it feel like he’s offering up every part of himself he has to give — but is still keeping a secret, whose contours you’re desperate to discover.
What am I missing here, because he evokes none of that for me. Like, none.
I mean, I liked Logan Lucky and I’m pretty sure he was in that movie. I also enjoyed BlacKkKlansman, he was solid in that. I can’t help but feel that the discourse revolving around Adam Driver could only possibly revolve around a white guy who is slightly left of center of what we’d call conventionally attractive by Hollywood standards (by real people standards, Driver is better than average, I’d wager.) That’s touched on briefly in the piece, but in my estimation, is treated as superfluous instead of being at the heart of the issue:
In the dozens of interviews and profiles that have accompanied his rise to fame, Driver comes off as unpredictable, funny, periodically abrasive, unafraid, present, contradictory, and not always satisfying: again, a real person. (Of course, it’s a lot easier to be all of those things, without blowback, when you’re a white guy.)
Driver is so different, so consistently surprising, so exceptional, that he reorganizes the standards of (white, young) male stardom today.
Those are the only mentions of his white dude-ness. Granted, not everything is about race and gender, but … surely, him being a white dude who doesn’t look like a cookie-cutter Chris has a large part to do with why he’s seen as the real deal, right?! Existing outside of the Hollywood machine, honing his craft. Who is allowed to exist outside of the Hollywood machine and still get work but a white guy? (And Meryl Streep—the most celebrated actor of the modern era, which should tell you something about having to exist in the machine if you’re not a white guy, friends.)
The point of this article is not to s*it on Adam Driver. I think he’s fine. He’s inoffensive as far as I can tell, but admittedly, I’ve not spent much time thinking about the man. This is why it’s confusing to me that so many people do, or at least, people write about him like they do. It’s not like he’s a bird guy, who brings his beloved pet cockatiel everywhere, to interviews and screenings, and speaks about their friendship lovingly. Or he’s out there getting arrested with Jane Fonda protesting climate change because he’s fighting the good fight. Or making weird-ass movies that I walk away from, consistently going “what the hell was that? I liked it, but man, it was unique.” Those things I’d personally classify as exceptional. Him? He’s fine.
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