A Charlatan in Your Living Room

Movies have been around for less than 100 years. But acting has been around forever. On a level, all of human life is an act of some kind. To be conscious is to put on an act. We play whichever role that we feel is ours to play. And whenever we break character it confuses us and everyone around us. 

“You’re just not acting like yourself today.” 

”You’re acting funny.”  

“We’re all adults here, and it’s time you start acting like it!” 

Isn’t there even a famous quote by some famous dead dude that expresses this very sentiment? “We’re all actors and the world is a stage.”  

“Jeez! You’re such an idiot!” - Somebody acting like their knowledge of an arbitrary name of a dead historical figure somehow makes them superior. The know-it-all. Often one of the least favorite characters in a production. 

On another note... actors are among the most revered people in our culture. I do sometimes wonder why this is. I also wonder why people so quickly and easily adopt the thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and views of their favorite actors. Actors are often spokespeople for all sorts of crazy things - and people eat it up! “That guy played such a convincing lawyer that I felt like I’d be convicted! Now that he’s tearfully telling me how to vote, I should listen to him! He seems so sincere. Almost as sincere as he seemed in that award-winning lawyer performance....” 

For that matter, what are news people, political commentators, politicians even? Actors. They all come complete with makeup, scripts, and false sincerity. People eat that shit up. Just like they do when they go to the movies. People want so hard to believe, that you could easily convince us of anything. Here’s all you need:  

Step 1 - have a well-written, convincing script.  

Step 2 - put on some makeup. 

Step 3 - go on tv.  

Voila!  

I just don’t think we’re designed to interface with the world in the way we’ve begun interfacing with it in recent years. Millions of years of evolution dealing with each other on a face-to-face basis, followed by just a few decades of having complete strangers in our living rooms for hours and hours. We spend more time with some of our favorite actors, news anchors, commentators, than we do with members of our own families. That’s got to be having a profound impact on the way we process information - for better and for worse.  

I’d like to end this with a quote from my personal favorite songwriter... myself.  

“Actors wearing makeup tell you everything you know, you eat it up and regurgitate it everywhere you go.”  

jake chrismanComment