Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Non-consensual Acting

I once had a co-worker tell me he thought Anthony Hopkins must be a "very spiritual man" because he had so convincingly played C.S. Lewis in a film. I retorted that we could just as easily assume Hopkins was also a cannibal, since he'd done such a swell job of that, too.

Acting is a consensual activity. There are varying degrees of persuasiveness (good and bad acting) but they all require a willingness on the part of the audience. A trip to Santa's chair, or Disneyland will quickly bear this out. Four years ago when our family visited Disneyland, my then-six-year-old daughter sought out Princess Jasmine and quietly informed her that she was my daughter's favorite princess.

"Why thank you!" said "Jasmine." She turned to "Aladdin" and said, "What a lovely thing to say. Did you hear that?"

"She's my favorite princess, too," said Aladdin, and the two characters made a show of being primly in love with each other.

I thanked the couple, and did my bit by staying in character as well. No broad winks, in other words. What a bizarre world for these actors to inhabit, I thought.

If this piece in L.A. Magazine is any indication, I had no idea just how bizarre it gets. A former Jack Sparrow tells all. Among the "minuses" to the job: low pay, unrelenting Disney surveillance and disciplinary actions, the occasional stalker and drunken hordes of groping cougars. Getting back to the bit about consensus: what is it about a guy in a pirate suit that suggests he's up for an ass-grab? Having said that, I still giggle to think of the short-lived "Tarzans" who were thrown out to the crowd like so much red meat.

On the "plus" side: "I already had a thing for the Ariels when I arrived. They have red hair, and I love red hair."

Horrific thought: sometimes we really do get the jobs we deserve.


DarkoV said...

I always thought that, though I may not agreed with his character's practice and beliefs, that Mr. Hopkins, in the character of Hannibal the Cannibal was, as your co-worker put it, a "very spiritual man".

Whisky Prajer said...

That's the appeal of the first movie: Hannibal is an evil man with a moral center. I can't remember who said it first, though: I'm thinking it's either Stephen King or William Goldman.