Disintegrate and reintegrate
Let’s go live like Sunday morning cartoons
Grow Christmas trees from tombs” —2x2x2 by Cloud Cult
There is no better excuse for childish behavior than saying, “I’m in theater.” Actors in school settings use it all the time. When someone does something socially unacceptable, one will say, “Oh, It’s okay. We’re in theater! We’re all weird.” Then I vomit everywhere.
I suppose in some regard this bullshit excuse is valid since one could say that actors are a group of adults who never stopped playing make-believe. But I can assure you, those who use this vile excuse aren’t thinking in such self-deprecating terms*. This is why it is utterly shocking to me that actors, who know better than anyone the depth and complexity of acting, use a phrase that dilutes everything theater should be to an over-simplified term that strips it of all creditability. It’s sad to listen to actors disparage the name of theater by using it as an excuse for inadequate social skills and inability to behave like adults. It’s even sadder to walk within an institution where those with the smallest brains wear the biggest egos.
The backstage area becomes a zoo of 21 year old adults gossiping like preteen girls, men who act like prepubescent boys throwing rocks at girls; a three-ring circus where everybody thinks they’re the ringleader. But much like in a circus, when you’re in the ring, all the action seems relevant. But on the outside, it all looks ridiculous. And truthfully, it is.
It pains me to watch this crowd of people, closer to entering the real world and supposedly more prepared than I, walking around like they own the place, then turning around and acting more like a child than I’ve ever behaved in my entire life. I watch these monsters become so heavily involved in their own delusions and self-written melodramas, that they forget that the world can see their flaws, even if they can’t. Every day that I witness this parade of walking flaws is a day that I am reminded of why I will never cease to be self-analyzing and to be introspective; to edit myself to fit a social eloquence that I can be proud of. This way I can use the phrase, “I’m in theater” not as an excuse, but as a declaration.
*Egos too big to view the trade objectively
Tomorrow, or rather, today as designated by the current Eastern Standard Time, is Valentine’s Day. It’s a cursed day where everybody likes to have an opinion to further convey “who they are”. We have the hopeless romantics who love the shit out of the holiday, we have the douchebags who love it for the expectation of sex in exchange for a dying flower and some cheap chocolate, and we have the self-pitying singles who make snide remarks or chuckle that it’s “singles awareness day”.
Here’s a newsflash: It’s fucking stupid.
Valentine’s Day stems from a series of random historical origins and legends that eventually formulated a fabulous business decision that sold a lot of cards and candy by exploiting the human desire to love and be loved. It’s not stupid because you don’t have someone to love, or love doesn’t exist, or any of that angsty shit. It’s stupid, because it’s simply ridiculous to say that on a specific day of the year that it’s okay for that one quiet kid to throw away all social graces and better judgment to proclaim a feeling by which there is no concrete definition at some person who they’ve been creeping on for years. Or that it’s okay to throw around the word “love” like it’s confetti so it no longer retains any meaning at all. Or that it’s okay for 1st graders to act like prostitutes with a business cards, and be forced to hand everybody in the class a “Be Mine” card. I highly doubt that child “wants” anybody. I clearly exaggerate, but I still think it’s a little weird seeing as they have no idea what they’re saying. Even on a less cynical level, I implore those who see it as a wonderful romantic day where everyone can talk about their feelings, to ask themselves, why is this specific day more romantic than others? Would it not be more flattering to be proposed to on a different day of the year, rather than a day that is nationally recognized as an appropriate day? How is proposing, or asking out on Valentine’s Day at all well thought out or specific to your relationship? It’s just easy. And it’s lazy. Neither of which are romantic adjectives.
My overall point is that when you market the word “love” and the whole idea of romanticism in various little catch phrases on Hallmark Cards, it really starts to lose it’s authenticity. Especially when you designate it on a specific day of the year. I think love, whatever it’s real definition, is about more than a box of chocolate and a greeting card. Love is a feeling, and a state of being that can barely be obtained in one lifetime, let alone one day of the year.
And so with that, I continue on this day, like any other day.
It’s Febuary 14, 2010 at 1:11AM EST. That’s it.
sometimes all that pimpin’ really gets to me. shit’s real.
I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but people are fucking dishonest and it’s hilarious. My example of the day takes place in the realm of theater; a magical place of “families”, ego, and passive-aggressive rivalry. The most disgusting form of this sort of thing exists in the form of peer critiques that fill most of the acting or performance-based classes. Here, students are forced to complement the performance of their peers and give them “constructive criticism”. Now, let’s get one thing straight: peer-to-peer critiques are a load of complete bullshit that I like to call: diplomatic dishonesty. It serves no purpose except to hear the opinions of those unqualified to give it.
Now, I try to avoid participation by quietly analyzing the performance in my head, but more importantly analyzing the character of those who speak after the performance. On my journey of silent social experimentation, I’ve noticed there’s a few common trends in the reactions.
Here are a few of the stereotypical bullshit responses procured by peer critiquing:
1) THE EXPERIENCED ADVICE-GIVER
The Bullshit: This student raises their hand for almost every person. They have an opinion and they want everyone to know it. But they totally know a ton about theater. Right? They use big theater terms! They spew their carefully thought out responses, and give advice using their own past experiences. They just want to spread their knowledge to everyone!
The Truth: This person mostly babbles the same generic bullshit, fill-in-the-blank responses, dropping meaningless vocabulary whenever they can. They make sure they mention their resume at every turn. They don’t care about helping the others, they just want to make sure the teacher still remembers that they’re the best.
2) THE PITY PARTY
The Bullshit: The student that tells those who give a bad performance that they’re “so good” and that they “try so hard”. And that they have “so much courage, getting up there”. They continue, by critiquing with diplomatic and measured compliments. They say, “even though you messed up, you totally pulled through.”
The Truth: This is code for pity. No one will ever tell someone that they gave an awful performance. But this person is sure to convey their benevolence at every turn, you know… by NOT giving the performer advice, or any sort of honest critique. Because that’ll help right? Right? This person doesn’t want to you to be any better, they want to keep you far below, where they can see you.
3) THE SILENT TREATMENT
The Bullshit: A technically good performer will get very little compliments from the following students. In fact, none at all. Their logic? “They already know they’re good.”
The Truth: Passive aggressive jealousy. They refuse to give the “enemy” any more fuel. A blank response will keep the performer doubting their performance. After all, what is a performer without a good audience?
4) THE SELECTOR
The Bullshit: Much like the advice-giver, this person is eager to share their expertise, but only with specific performances that they claim were “so, so, so, good”. They make sure to correct the tiniest of details, since they just want to “help” you be “the best you can be”.
The Truth: This person marks their rival, and makes sure to upstage them with their fabulous response. They want the teacher to notice their sharp eye, and make sure he or she noticed that almost invisible mistake, or the mistake that they merely made up.
So alright, I exaggerate slightly. (And I mean slightly) Some people may be honest when they say they really liked the tone of your voice, or how natural your monologue sounded. I give artistry comments more credit than technical ones. But honestly? Deep down, there’s a reason you’re saying what you’re saying, in the specific way you’re saying it. 9 times out of 10, if you dig deep enough, all motives are selfish.
I admit this sounds a bit cynical, a bit cruel even. But I can assure you one thing: it’s fucking honest.
And that’s better than nothing.
I implore anybody who prides themselves in having an ounce of intellect to watch the movie “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men”. Inevitably, when you start watching the film, be prepared to get a seemingly “run of the mill, low-budget, realism film” vibe. But as the movie progresses and escalates to it’s climax and it’s final ending, be prepared to find yourself proven utterly wrong. This movie goes beyond feminism propaganda, or anything political. It strips down and examines the inner-workings of human beings, beyond the layers of social interaction. The film jumps around from subject to subject, ignoring a chronological time-line, but rather organizing itself around concepts and theories. This cinematic choice parallels the thought-process of the almost-silent narrator, Sara as she continues her research for her graduate studies while simultaneously addressing her own life experiences. The style assists the rhythm and emotion of the story, through the decision of how often to switch between scattered scenes, and how fast. At times, the movie produces an almost symphonic quality as voices from various scenes come together to form one congruent thought. The acting quality is superb, in the sense that every actor is so precise in making the delivery of their monologues extremely authentic, without losing the artistry of the writing. (Not to mention, Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard shows off his acting chops!) The movie is adapted for the screen and directed by John Krasinski (The Office) who also appears in the film sparsely, but actually ends up giving one of the most moving monologues at the film’s conclusion. The story itself is based on a some of the stories found in a book of the same title, containing a collection of 23 short stories by David Foster Wallace; A book, after watching this movie, that I will surely be picking up at Barnes & Noble. Though the film starts off slow, it’s certainly worth sitting through. I could see how this movie would not be for everyone, since if you fail to pay close attention, or find yourself distractingly shocked by the brutal honesty of these men’s confessions, then you’ll find yourself missing the point completely. The film is falsely marketed as a “romantic comedy” with a tangible plot line. But that is far from the case. It’s an intelligent and well-written examination of the human relationship that doesn’t pretend to have all the answers.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had one of those introspective days, but since I am a brutal self-analyzer, these sorts of days suck. I break myself down into a million pieces with the intention of sorting the pieces in some objective way that I can wrap my head around. Then I decide on a plan of action. All this happens in the crevices of my brain, while my outer persona stares blankly at a Facebook newsfeed and says grumpy things to those who try to speak to me.
But for the first time today, I found it difficult to sort out what I want for my academic future. Particularly, if I want to transfer, the reasons for doing so, and is acting a good idea in the first place? I would rationalize and organize, and think I had made a decision. But then doubt that these rationalizations are legitimate at all, and question the underlying reasons. This lead to further digging, and I came to the following phrase: my entire persona is an ironical witticism. This may have absolutely nothing to do with any of my important decisions of the day, but this pretty much sums up what I think is wrong with me. I can’t express my feelings in real life situations, and yet here I am, an acting major, a supposed devoted actress portraying the emotions of fictional characters. I always thought I was a pretty open person, at least that’s how I categorized myself. I never hold back my opinions, and I certainly have a lot to say about things. But I realized today that I dance around the root of most issues. I state the rationalizations, but you’ll never hear me state the feelings that these opinions stem from. I guess it’s because it’s fucking scary. And honestly that’s how most people are. I’ve noticed that trait in so many other people, but for some reason I failed to put myself in the same category since I’m constantly living with my own feelings.
But then it hit me. And I’ve figured it out. This is probably why I act to begin with. I act, to act out the feelings that I keep to myself. The feelings that I phrase, rephrase, and edit for the public. The things I will never say for fear, I can say onstage, with the voice of another soul as a translucent mask. This is why I need acting. But when I woke up today with unsettling questions in my brain, what I really needed was a path.
But I guess that’s just not how my mind works.