this is one of the only versions of this very common blog topic i’ve seen that gets at the heart of what from outside can look a lot like people being shallow. i LOVE los angeles - living here, working here, how everyone has ideas about what they want to do and be. i wrote a screenplay that was underneath not even about gender or sexuality or my love of pop music as much as it was that desire.
Americans are already quite individualist, but Los Angeles is the most individualist part of America. Because so many people are employed by the entertainment industry, most people are self-employed freelancers. They’re very focused on themselves. People talk about themselves a lot because they feel they have to, for survival, for self-promotion. Just as you can’t fault anyone in the world for doing something for survival, try not to fault them for being so self-promotional. Learn to lovingly listen like you’d listen to an 8-year-old who excitedly tells you about their train set for an hour.
Every culture values different things. In some places, it’s your bloodline. In others, your university. In others, it’s where you live. In LA, it’s who you know. Since the entertainment industry is all about short-term projects, everyone survives by their next project, and these projects always come from a connection. So everyone is collecting contacts. (Again: it’s survival.) Friendships are pragmatic and often short. Don’t fault them for talking about who they know, the same way you wouldn’t fault someone from India asking about your family. Introducing people to each other, people who could potentially work together, is the most valuable thing you can do, as it raises your value and theirs. LA people want (NEED!) to have powerful well-connected friends, to survive and thrive.
Not just LA but California is the most optimistic place on earth. The side-effects of this can confuse outsiders. When you say, “Will you come to my event?” or, “Want to help with this project?” - they will almost always say yes, full of enthusiasm, and actually 100% sincere, fully intending to be there, to help, whatever. They honestly and optimistically think that they will be there and do it. They have the best of intentions. But when it actually comes to that time, and they’ve optimistically said “yes!” to a dozen other things too, or perhaps they’re just nestled in the comfort of their California home, then… well… they reluctantly “flake” - and won’t follow through. Don’t get bitter and write them off as fake, or backstabbers. Just understand that it’s a side-effect of sincere optimism, and adjust your expectations accordingly.