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Monday, October 8, 2018

Acting the Part

One of the great things about being a kid is having the chance to dabble in things without having to be serious about any of them.  I for instance dabbled in ballet dancing when I was age 7-10 and a little tap dancing and some acrobatics.  I enjoyed the costumes and the recitals and getting the experience of being on a stage with real foot lights and a live orchestra in the pit.  Priceless. 

I also dabbled in violin playing when I was in sixth grade.  This was not nearly so enjoyable.  I knew from about the third week I had no talent and no desire to continue, but was made to stick it out by my mother because she felt I should “follow through” with my commitment for the rest of the year.  It was sheer torture for me, but I learned a lot from it. 
First, it is possible to survive even if you are not happy.  Second, you can fool some of the people a lot of the time.  In any performance our little orchestra gave, I knew if I paid close attention to Susan Lynas, who sat next to me---who took private lessons and was quite good, I could move my bow up when she did, and down when she did and most people would think we played about the same.  The third thing I learned was not to leap to get involved in something before you think about it long and hard.  This was a very valuable lesson to have under my belt at age 11.

Then, in college, I dabbled in theater.  I took a speech course and was encouraged to come to the tryouts for a part in the theater department’s next production.  I met some friends, got a few parts and eventually was inducted in Alpha Psi Omega, honorary dramatic fraternity.  I learned some things here also.  First, I was probably not going to be a Hollywood starlet or a Broadway sensation. 
Secondly, it is quite possible to pretend with great “credibility” that you are someone you are not, involved in situations that are not real, and using emotions to convince others that you are who you pretend to be.  Acting is not that difficult and furthermore, many people love being led to believe what is basically a falsehood which makes it all that much easier to pull off being the pretend character.  We spend loads of money and time watching others do it as a matter of fact. 

We seem to want very much to believe the actor is who they say they are.  We know Clark Gable wasn’t really Rhett Butler and when he said, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” it was only Gable pretending he felt that way.  We loved it anyway. 
When the actor or actress is able to make us cry or laugh we applaud this fake behavior all the more and call it a “credible performance.” 

This last couple of weeks has made me scratch my head at how many people are willing to say Christine Blasey Ford “gave a credible testimony” as if that’s all that counts, credibility.  Since when has credible had anything to do with the truth?  The stage and film studios are full of credible performances but that doesn’t make them real. 
I for one don’t care how “credible” Christine Ford was in front of the Senate Judicial Committee.  She was ACTING.  For days now I’ve heard both sides of this fight say, “Well, we have to respect that she’s been through something really terrible in her past.”  No.  We don’t.  MAYBE she’s just acting.  Maybe she and some cohorts in conspiracy made the whole thing up.  It certainly sounds made up.  Too many unknowns and loose ends prevent her story from being true.  The thing this "credible testimony" of hers lacks is credible evidence.
For instance, she testified that she went into a bathroom and locked the door.  And from behind that bathroom door she could tell that the two boys were “pinballing off the walls of the hall on their way downstairs.”  Really?  She could tell that without actually seeing it?  They weren’t just bumping into the wall on the left of the hall?  They were actually pinballing?  How could she know that?  A writer of fiction may have put that in the script and it would have played well on stage or film, but how could Christine know it happened from behind that locked door? 
But the biggest problem I have with her is the fact she appeared before the committee not as an accomplished 51 year old professional woman, wife and mother of two, but as a helpless sniveling croaky voiced person who barely knew what day it was.  If she’s “credible” in her real life as a professor, then who was this person we saw answer the questions in the hearing? 
Several other women have spoken up recently about their own experience of being taken advantage of by men and none of them put on this victim persona when they tell their stories.  Kelly Ann Conway and Anita Broderick are two that come to mind.  These accomplished women speak with confidence and maturity.  They don’t whimper and sniff for affect.  Only actors do that.  Only actors need to do that.
In the end, enough Republicans believed Brett Kavanaugh for him to be confirmed, but it is important that we don’t walk away from this battle field, which it was before it was over, without putting aside this falsehood that Ford is a victim of anything.  Victims don’t ACT like victims, they present themselves as they truly are, women who have addressed their experience honestly and have picked themselves us and walked away from it. 
Lastly, I might have believed Christine Ford, if she had told us one thing that could not have been made up.  If she had said, “I specifically remember writing this in my diary at the time, which is still in the attic of my parents' home in Maryland.”  Only she didn’t have such evidence.  To her great surprise, Kavanaugh did. 

1 comment:

Fred Costello said...

Public schools and colleges have succeeded in convincing students, now alumni, that there is no such thing as truth. Because we cannot be sure of anything, we must rule our lives by emotions. I saw this trend while teaching at the University of Delaware 40 years ago. If emotions prevail, then acting is effective and reasoning is not. So we must work on combatting this evil by speaking out, especially to the young voters, with ideals that appeal to them. But we need God's intervention.