If you live in Los Angeles, you know there is no reason to go near Hollywood Blvd between Gower and La Brea for any reason unless it is because you work there or live there. The area is a black hole of shit, both part Times Square and part skid row. You can see lingerie and head shops as far as the eyes can see, with occasional homeless stumbling in and out of these places. Some locals (read: people who live just outside of Los Angeles) roam these streets at night in skimpy outfits and bedazzled t-shirts, seeking Red Bull and liquor drinks. It’s a raucous, high traffic area that is as unappealing as it is appealing…to tourists.
Locals shun the area, keeping as far away from it as possible. But, people from out of town? They love it! Not just Hollywood and Highland, but all of Hollywood Blvd. If you walk down the street, you are constantly dodging all of the above but one thing in particular: tourists staring at stars. Not movie stars, but stars on the Walk of Fame. They just gawk at them like they’re going to move or play a video of the celebrity it honors.
If you listen to them, you can hear some hypothesis of what the stars are markers of, as if they are a modern Wonder of the World. “These are Academy Awards, these stars,” I heard someone say once, staring at the Liberace star. Another time a tourist assured, “This means they live in Hollywood so they have a star on Hollywood Blvd because of that.” The best, by far, was one I heard outside of the Fresh & Easy at Hollywood and Sycamore: “Oh, the celebrity is buried here–that’s why there is a star: it’s their tombstone.”
These explanations are just as embarrassing as they are hysterical but, really, pinpoint exactly why Hollywood Blvd is appealing to all outsiders: it is a connection to celebrities they have watched their entire lives. This sounds obvious and, admittedly, silly; but, that is important to some people. Even if they don’t represent an Academy Award won or where a celebrity will one day be laid to rest, Los Angeles outsiders find a deep connection to entertainment history here that we jaded locals fault them for.
We’re annoyed they don’t walk faster and that they loiter and indulge in gushing over some person they’ve only seen in movies. But, you know what? Why is that bad? That’s kind of the American dream to be able to come to Hollywood for a visit and see markers of those that have made you the happiest, even if they made you happy in a movie or television show or song. That’s totally human and totally acceptable. We’re just bullies because, unlike any other town in the world, we’re constantly faced with celebrity, celebrities, and the culture that comes along with it.
If we see paparazzi camping outside of a condo, that’s normal. If we see Ryan Gosling hanging at the 101 Coffee Shop, that’s fine. If we encounter a movie premiere, that’s just another delay in our day. For anyone else on the planet to see those, that would be fucking mind melting as these are all representations that what they read in magazines are real and that gossip websites have some strain of truth to them: it is Hollywood magic realized.
Unfortunately and fortunately for us, we see how these magic tricks happen everyday and we do not care because this is normal for us. We dare not buy a tabloid or venture down Hollywood Blvd because these are all common to use, as common in our cultural memory as going to a mall or Applebee’s in a suburb. Perhaps our being in a city where trends and news for the mainstream is created makes us more sophisticated in a way, but that does not make us better nor does it give us the right to turn up our noses at Hollywood Blvd and its passersby.
Admit it: at one point or another not too long after you moved here, you walked down Hollywood Blvd for shits and giggles or ventured toward the Hollywood sign to sneak a peek at it in person. Los Angeles is somewhat of a tourist city because Hollywood is Hollywood and there is no other Hollywood except in Los Angeles. That makes our city iconic.
The next time you are delayed in traffic or annoyed by someone as you try to make it Space15Twenty, hold your tongue. Step around them or walk in the street as the person takes a photo of star on the Walk of Fame. They’re experiencing a moment our jaded asses may never have ever again in their lives: don’t spoil their vacation because you are a selfish, jaded asshole.