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Chances are that, if you’re reading this, you’ve seen at least one film in your life. If you haven’t, then where the hell have you been?
And why am I bringing this up?
Film is so powerful that no matter where you turn, someone somewhere is donning an image of a movie on their clothing (how many times have you seen a Star Wars scene embedded on somebody’s black T-shirt?) or casually quoting the vast swath of colloquial expressions (Beam me up, Scotty!). Then there’s those crazy fanboys/girls going bonkers whenever they happen to stumble across an actor from their favourite film/TV show and scream, “OMG IT’S HIMMMM!!!!! *deafening squeal*”
There is no doubt in my mind that films have played a huge factor in defining our society in culture, fashion, trends, and whatever else comes down the stream in which people want to casually mimic in some fashion or another; the clothes, the mannerisms, the style…the force (!) of film on people’s social behaviour is so remarkable that one can’t help but wonder how, or why even, someone could go out of their way to forgo their own individuality in order to be a part of whatever flavour of the month is brewing along the social kitchen line.
Personally, I never really got into the whole film culture where I want to purposely go out of my way to meet certain celebrities or to adapt a particular expression or style that’s prominent in any given film, but that’s beside the point.
Film influences a lot of people. Its impact is so strong that celebrities are, according to a survey from Reader’s Digest, more trustworthy than your local politician. (Well, okay, some celebrities are more trustworthy than others. The higher paid ones? Forget about it).
So you could essentially take some red carpet walker, have them spout some random nonsense about something they are in no way educated about, and watch as the masses hang on to their every word. Granted, politicians have become synonymous with uselessness and the ultimate purveyor of deceit, but celebrities themselves are in a position with much higher sway than most of us think, and that in and of itself can be extremely dangerous.
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And the funny thing is that the beauty industry loves it. Some female actress has bangs? Every girl and their mother want the same style. Another celebrity is wearing a fancy dress made by some designer whose price tag would take a mortgage on a small-sized home just to afford? Sign me up. Here’s a down payment.
It’s just too convenient that the Toronto International Film Festival that fell upon the great city of Toronto is now over, and the flood of celebrities willing to launch their coveted films and the numerous fans that came from around the world have gone. But the legacy of the festival lives on.
And as obtuse as the film industry can be, what started out as a fledgling festival with less than 100 films debuting has now become one of THE main film festivals for which filmmakers aim to earn Academy nods in the new year. Now THAT’s the kind of influence I can get behind: Yes, your film career is make-or-break here in Toronto so you best get it right!
Now, above, I mentioned how people go bonkers over the fashion/style/expressionist selections of come celebrities.
Actors themselves play a pivotal role much larger than whatever lines they’re fed in a script. These are ordinary—or somewhat ordinary—individuals who don many guises in their acting careers in order to bring life to a specific character or idealist personification as set out in the scripts. Off the set, they’re parading around still decked out in a fancy wardrobe usually to promote their latest work though usually not in costume as what their character requires of them.
It must be very disconcerting for them, having to parade around as umpteen variations of imaginary (or, for the sake of realism, actual people who unfortunately passed away much too soon) people and experience a complete sensation of alienation as people never get to see their true selves. People like you for who you’re not.
How often do you read tabloids (I know, not a great source but hear me out) showing celebrities without make-up or even performing “ordinary” tasks that us normal folk endeavour in on a regular basis: “They shop at <store>!” Really? My life is so complete now knowing celebrities shop at Walmart or Store X like I do! Oh this is too much to take in at once! *fans self frantically*
For example, a couple days ago an online publication featured a picture of Jennifer Garner at another film festival without make-up on. You know what? She looked…normal. She wears herself quite well and I was certainly impressed with her goal to show people it’s perfectly okay to forgo make-up and show your true self.
Who can blame the actors and actresses who dare to go incognito on the streets when not involved in a shoot? We all know how obsessive fans can be; I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be flogged by people begging for an autograph or selfie or whatever whenever I’m in line for a coffee or grabbing a burger. Give me some space people!
Nietzsche alluded to the fact that, “…All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks, in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.”
So those people on the silver screen have become near and dear in our hearts not by their own unique person but by the many different faces they’ve had to don, often to the detriment of their own individual sanity. We’ve seen many actors succumb to mental health issues such as depression, resulting in dangerous and often fatal escapades that unfortunately take them down much too soon.
And let’s not forget those celebrities who take it upon themselves to stand for some social issue.
Take Jenny McCarthy. You’ve probably heard some bizarre statements she’s stated lately with regards to autism. She’s been pioneering an anti-vaccination movement because she feels that they were responsible for causing her son to have autism. Now that should be cause for alarm. For Jenny to state something like that based clearly on emotion it’s sure to make a lot of people upset.
I don’t know what living with autism is like, but I do know a few people with autistic children and each day is a constant struggle. Your whole life changes in every unimaginable aspect and so it’s rather daft to just hear a celebrity blindly make statements based clearly on emotion considering that there’s scientific evidence to the contrary.
It’s not just Ms. McCarthy either; there are plenty of other celebrities chirping about social issues. There’s Pamela Anderson who is suddenly against the seal hunt in Canada. Then Donald Sutherland suddenly became interested in Canadian politics during the 2015 federal election. Right. Both of these people have been out of Canada for so long that it strikes me as bizarre that they would take a particular interest in something that they have paid little attention to up to the present moment.
You could probably say that a lot of these celebrities are probably doing it as a publicity stunt to draw attention to their careers which have rightfully fallen to the wayside.
What’s sad is that there are people who will hang on to not just Ms. McCarthy’s but to celebrities’ every word no matter how obscure the claim, and are too daft to take it upon themselves to exercise independent thought and hone their bullshit meters and question the source. This is where misinformation happens and can cause severe setbacks if not properly researched.
What’s the lesson here? In a world where everyone wants you to be like them and to live by the ideals that they thrust upon you, it’s crucial to maintain your individuality, regardless of cost.
From fashion to style to influence on the cinematic stage, film and the many parties involved like set design, wardrobe selections and even the vast storytelling that put imaginations to reality and contribute a lot to how we perceive—or how the creators intended us to perceive—the narrative, the characters, story and settings in these films are so powerful that it cannot be ignored.
Films are about the manifestation of the imagination and in no way hold true to any sort of reality, for the most part anyway (documentaries are clearly excluded from this statement). Underneath the gowns, the glamour, and the glitter, these actors are normal human beings. If we approach movies and actors as such, then there won’t be as many issues where people feel they have to live a life like those they see on screen and thus end up feeling miserable when their own lives don’t match up with Hollywood’s.
It’s important to realize, too, that just because celebrities are pitching a specific worldview, concept or perspective, it doesn’t give them an automatic pass into validity either.
We’ll be more inclined to live happier lives when we understand and realize that the people on screen and the events they enact for us are merely fiction with special effects to make it look good.
That doesn’t mean we still can’t dare to dream and be like that star(let) on the red carpet; a lot of actors have made good on following a life outside of their roles on screen. And it’s from this we should attempt to emulate their style and mannerisms as it does good for everyone one way or another.
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