Ask A Genius 362 – Reinvention
May 15, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You were a fake high school student, and a stripper and bouncer. When?
Rick Rosner: Into my 20s, early 20s, from 20 to 26, I was a bouncer and a stripper. I went to college in my hometown half-assedly. I didn’t like a class, so I would quit going. So, I accumulated like a year’s worth of Fs. I get a lot of As too.
If I like the class, I would go to class because my expectations for myself are low. I had a lot of time to read and think. For decades now, I’ve had a theory of the universe; though; I’ve been thinking about maybe it will come to fruition.
Maybe, it doesn’t; but the fucking up gave me a certain amount of freedom, I went back to high school one last time before all my hair fell out at age 26, and I graduated at 27. I wanted a place to think about the universe. I wasn’t there to hit on girls.
And my last semester, I moved to New York City where my girlfriend for my last semester at the University of Colorado became my fake legal guardian; “my fake” because I made it all the way to graduation without getting caught.
I used a fake identity for a long time. So, MTV was casting for 18-year-olds to play a game, to be contestants on a game show they had in development. So, this was another chance to be 18 again. I thought that I might meet a lot of funny people.
I offered to work through them, and because of that I eventually became a writer. If I start up as a fact checker on the quiz show, then I became a writer and was a TV writer for the next 25 years and worked on twenty-five hundred hours of programming on all the major networks.
I was nominated for seven Writers Guild Awards and an Emmy. Eventually, I married my fake cousin because I was working in TV. We’ve managed to have a – knock on wood – nice life in LA. So, brutal levels of screwing up both, later on before I ever worked for ABC, I was a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
They asked me a flawed question. When you’re asked a multiple-choice question, the answer should be among the choices they give you. It wasn’t there. So, I sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, which is something I couldn’t let go.
But now, I chose to sue them which wasted so many thousands of hours of me pursuing a ridiculous lawsuit. Not ridiculous because I was wrong, I wasn’t; they were wrong. Ridiculous because it’s a game show and because the legal system thinks it’s a freaking game show: get over it.
But every few years, I want to do something stupid and pointless to see how to do it and see how it works out. So, I’ve done…I fucked up a lot, but there’s something to be said for imperfection and screwing up if you look at the biographies of so-called ‘great people’; a lot of them were flawed sometimes at the personal level, sometimes at the relational level.
Some of them had substance problems. A few people, even mother Teresa, received a bunch of criticism for being a shady operator: nobody is perfect. I mean you can strive for perfection, but you shouldn’t savagely beat yourself up for falling short of perfection.
The possible inspiration in failures and screwing up, in taking weird detours. You’re a gifted kid; you’re young; obviously, by virtue of being kid, other people are in charge of a lot of your life. So, there aren’t that many ways to go off the rails.
The way parents are now – helicopter type parents; you won’t be allowed to go off the rails and it’s relatively easy to be on a course of perfection with a highly scheduled course that includes carefully chosen extracurricular activities, prep for AP, for SAT, for ACT.
Among the high achievers, at the school everything is regimented, it’s easy to have a life that is so regimented that it feels as if you are on some close to perfect path to where you want to go. Then if something happens to wreck that perfection, it can bump you.
But nobody gets through even early life perfectly. The perfection you get from having a highly helicopter, helped out, regimented, academic and extracurricular career, and life offers the illusion of perfection or the illusion that perfection is attainable.
Because thanks to all the structure you’re given and your own high levels of motivation, you feel like you can pull it off, but nobody makes it through any significant chunk of life without failure. You’re gonna fail at some point.
It’s how you deal with failure that is the test of a person. But you could even fail at failure, I did plenty of that too; I like compounded right. I did one stupid thing and that I did another stupid thing on top.
You can even argue – which I have in a YouTube series, where I as the political liberal argue with a political conservative my vision of – America allows for failure with the social safety net, the tolerance of America.
They offer for difference and reinventing yourself, allows for people to fail and to get back up and with a little help to take another shot at building a life.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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