Regrets, she’s had a few… and is brave to admit it
Plenty of people have regrets over past professional decisions. I have my doubts about the wisdom of trying out as a de facto shop security guard for one single, ill-advised shift, after it transpired that you couldn’t prevent shoplifting just by wishing customers wouldn’t nick things.
I might have been incorrect in declaring that the first ever episode of Broadchurch was so silly that it reminded me of a French and Saunders parody. Both wrong, in insignificant little ways, but in the public eye, when the subjects are serious and the impact widereaching, it’s always striking to hear people reassessing their old choices, because the freedom to do so seems increasingly rare.
Hayley Williams, lead singer of the pop-rock band Paramore, whom I am far too long in the tooth to love in the teen-fan way that I do, announced on stage that she would be retiring the 2007 single Misery Business from their live set. Its lyrics (“once a whore, nothing more”) have a tinge of catty spite that betrays her youth when she wrote it and she’s spoken before about being uncomfortable with its message now. Before giving it one last airing at a hometown show in Nashville, she dedicated it to “every bad decision that led us here… to all the embarrassing things we might have said, but we owned up to it and we grew”.
The inestimable Viola Davis recently offered a thoughtful examination of her Oscarnominated turn as Aibileen in The Help in the New York Times. When asked about any regrets she had over roles that she had passed on, Davis turned the question. “Almost a better question is, ‘Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted?’” she replied, going on to talk about her lack of ease with how The Help turned out. “I just felt that at the end of the day it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she said.
The director Ava DuVernay tweeted her support, adding that she had worked as a publicist on the film, her last PR job, and that it gave her the push she needed to make her own movies.
These stories are vastly different, of course, but in their own ways they speak to an acknowledgment that choices can be, simply, complicated and changeable. In the act of documenting everything, social media has the curious effect of making opinions seem permanent and fixed, as if people don’t obviously, inevitably, change as time – and times – move on. These kinds of discussion feel like a tiny crack in the rigidity of such thinking.
Viola Davis: unhappy about her role in The Help.