Tuesday, March 06, 2007

A Swing and a Miss

By a show of hands, how many people want to see me naked? (Don’t think too much about it – vomiting and convulsions may develop.) Just as I thought, no one raised his or her hand – oddly enough, neither did I.

In the past week, I have seen a handful of news stories and read a number of articles about young actors choosing to go nude in their stage and film performances. (You may all be wondering why I’ve taken the time to watch or read these things – I wonder myself, quite honestly.) These stories contain quotes from fellow actors along these lines: “He is such a brave actor, truly dedicated to his craft.” Translation: “Taking his clothes off distracted us from the really lame storyline.” Of course, you hear/read quotes from the denuding actors themselves: “I felt like I would betray the character’s soul if I didn’t do this.” Translation: “The role’s not exactly Hamlet. Why not?” But here’s the one I hear a lot that has no sensible translation: “It was done very tastefully and professionally.” Last I checked, the “profession” – although perhaps the oldest known to humankind – that specializes in this type of activity is illegal in most states. Ask Hugh Grant.

When the media do these stories, the reporters seem to have this very serious look on their faces in the interviews. Now, it’s possible that the interviewer just has a really bad case of heartburn from lunch or he is, at that moment, trying to picture what the actor would look like dressed up as a hippopotamus or a walrus. However, the tones of these reports are to have us believe that the actor’s choice to disrobe is on par with Louis Pasteur’s decision to become a microbiologist.

Irony of ironies, I would be willing to say that 99% of us don’t sit around as adults and daydream about sitting in a laboratory infecting chickens in the hopes of finding a vaccine for the flu. However, back in high school, I would be willing to say that 99% of us didn’t idolize members of the Drama Club. Oddly enough, though, that’s where the icons of the American cinema made their start. And we, their fellow students, weren’t exactly falling all over ourselves to have them sit next to us in the lunchroom. Sure, they could memorize a soliloquy that took up four pages of single-spaced text, but their skills weren’t exactly going to help you get a date with a modern-day Juliet.

Now, back to Adulthood: Do me a favor the next time you’re watching Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood (or whatever) and an interview with an actor comes on. Turn the sound completely off, find an AM station on the radio that comes in without too much static (it doesn’t matter if it’s in English or another language), and watch the interview with the radio program as the soundtrack. After about twenty seconds, the actor’s mouth on TV will magically sync with what’s coming out of the radio – perhaps it will be Tobey Maguire along with the play-by-play for a Cubs game. I promise you this: it will make as much, or more, sense as what’s really being said in the interview. And you might find yourself wondering why Chicago didn’t get Spiderman to be their color man years ago!

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