Thursday, April 12, 2018

"You Are... Wait, Who Exactly Are You?"

Another of those “House of Mirrors” reality explorations readers constantly clamor for.

Or is it just me?

Or it is not even me, but an idea arrives and adamantly demands to be written.

I have no idea how this process works.

But here goes anyway.

In a leap of mystified confusion.

Drawing from my beloved – by me – homage “Saddle Up!”, I delivered the reminiscences of a “Stock Character” from old-time westerns – “The Rancher’s Daughter”, AKA… well, a lot of people, all of whom embodied the essential “Good Girl” persona and the only one morally suitable for the “Good Guy” to end up with, although even then, he was as likely to respectfully tip his hat and ride off into the sunset, alone, or with a longtime male companion.  (And leave us not read too much into that.  They didn’t.)

Recalling her onscreen experiences, the “Leading Lady” revealed that she was, in real life, more, shall we say, behaviorally exuberant than the staid, stereotyped character she was regularly contracted to play.

Its not unusual in that business.  You play – again and again – the character the audience, based primarily on physical appearance, imagines you to be.

It’s call “‘Type’ Casting.”

I found interest in that “onscreen-offscreen” contradiction.  The actor was stuck playing the pure and pristine “Leading Lady”, when she was actually more of a visceral “Hell Cat” – that descriptive derives from the fifties; it looked great on  movie posters – a role she would never be hired for because she looked disqualifyingly “Nice.”

So there’s that.

An actor’s hired for their outward appearance even though, in reality, that is unequivocally not “Them.”  And ditto, in the other direction – a “Voluptuous Bombshell” – another fifties blurb blaring visually from posters – who, on her own time, is behaviorally “nun-like”, and in fact winds up in a convent after her career, cultivating vegetables, mumblingly berating her smoldering physique.  (Or if there is a “Vow of Silence” involved, just thinking that.) 

This limiting predicament reminds me of an actor I once hired whose quirky physical demeanor consigned him to colorful – often scene-stealing –  supporting roles.

I remember him sensibly proclaiming – in what context, I no longer recall –

“I would rather be ‘Type cast’ than not cast at all.”

The guy seemed to be serious.

And yet I always wondered about that.

Is it just me who, despite what I see in the mirror – not just performing in movies but in everyday life, as well – imagines myself being the heroic and wonderful “Star of the Show”? 

Is that “Crazy Time”? 

Or purely normal and natural?

I have a feeling we all do that, seeing ourselves as “The Romantic Lead”, not the ancillary “Best Friend.”  Think about it.  Do you think anyone ever grew up, dreaming of becoming Vice President of the United States?

And yet, in the ultimate “Battle of Perceptions”, which “You” more frequently wins out?

Be honest.  Is the sum total of your life the product of who you inwardly believe yourself to be?  Or the result of the pidgeonholing way others perceive you and stubbornly require you to remain?

It seems stupid, doesn’t it, that that would be the determining factor?  Imagine what wonderful achievements – onscreen and beyond – we are deprived of because the person who could do it does not, unfortunately, “Look the part.”

It just came to me that the third newspaper column I ever wrote when I was twenty-four was the “politically incorrect”,

“Can A Dwarf Become President of the United States?”

What does it mean, I wonder, to be plowing the same theoretical terrain almost half a century later?

I don’t know…

You think maybe it’s time to move on?