Joey’s all right

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Joseph Kosinski is a famous film director, but he’s also a guy from my hometown of Marshalltown. Everyone back home calls him “Joey.” It’s probably because people in my hometown picked up on his friends and family calling him Joey. It’s a way to make someone who has “made it” seem intimate and familiar. I can’t imagine Kosinski cares for strangers calling him a version of his name synonymous with young children, but Hollywood and their star-studded names are a long ways away from the factory town where he and I grew up.

I had the pleasure of seeing Kosinski during a screening of his third motion picture, “Only the Brave” over the weekend. Quite a few people went. My mother, my godparents, my high school teachers, the Marshalltown mayor, everyone seemed to be packed in the Orpheum Theater that night. The film was great, and afterward he did a Q&A with some boilerplate questions. He also shared a brief update on the “Top Gun” sequel he’s directing which will be out next year — yes, Tom Cruise will be in it.

But what happened next is something I wish had a do-over. Kosinski was presented with a key to the city. That was a great gesture, but it was very brief — I would have said more.

People like Kosinski are honored, often not entirely for their aptitude in their craft or their hometown being plastered in their biographies and Wikipedia page, but because of the effect they have on future generations of people growing up in the same home town. Whether an artist, brave hero or sports superstar, hometown celebrities are a source of inspiration and pride, with inspiration being the key factor.

Growing up, my movie-loving friends and I knew of Kosinski, and we have watched all of his films, even his short film with Taylor Kitsch. His first film, “Tron: Legacy,” which came out in 2010, is a favorite. I strongly believe there was a positive psychological effect to our small connection to the director when we were growing up. Having someone relevant to your background succeed through hard work against impossible odds shows others the work can pay off handsomely. While many, myself included, aren’t famous Hollywood directors or celebrities, we realize our wildest dreams aren’t necessarily impossible because of where we’re from.

If you or someone you love is giving up on an “out there” dream, look for others in your community who have succeeded for inspiration. Giving up may make the hardship of trying go away, but you will never reap any rewards which could have come about in the future. We often reach a positive outcome we hadn’t planned on. I never would have thought I’d write for a living, yet here I am. Maybe I didn’t achieve my teenage dream of directing films like Kosinski, but I still have found a way to succeed at something I love. Anyone in Spencer can do the same as I’ve met and interviewed quite a few Spencer natives who are inspirational or who will be one day.