Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Remember when movie stars were mysterious?

Internet has connected the world – no doubt about it. And in general, this is definitely a Good Thing. The media are on top on every move and event, which gratifies the news and/or gossip junkies among us.
However, there is a drawback to knowing all the ins and outs - the demystification of movie stars.
My grandmother used to swoon with her friends watching Rudolph Valentino galloping through the (fake) desert on the silver screen. Living in Europe, she didn’t have a clue about his personal circumstances, which left lots of room for wishful thinking and daydreaming.
In the 30s, the platinum blond bombshells looked like they hadn’t got a clue where the kitchen in their houses was, let alone know how to cook. But they knew how to be glamorous and to party- big time. Since all we knew about them was what the studios put out, we never knew that Louise Brooks was desperately unhappy (to phrase it mildly).
The leading ladies in the ‘40s and ‘50s were mysterious indeed – Garbo and Bacall looked like they had hidden secrets and dark desires, fixing us with sultry looks from the screen.
Reality did not interfere with the illusion – in Bacall’s case, being married to Bogey put her in a different realm all together. Perky ‘60s icons such as Doris Day and handsome leading men like Rock Hudson kept us spellbound with their onscreen antics. We didn’t have a clue what went on offscreen, which was for sure a blessing for Hudson.
In the’80s and ‘90s, movie stars were called “actors and actresses”, which already gives you a hint how the audience perceived them. They started to refer to their vocation as “jobs” and “crafts” touting university degrees and spouting nonsense like “method acting”. For crying out loud, I pay good money to escape reality, so don’t treat it as a nuclear science project, OK?
They are bending backwards to ensure us that they are ordinary folks. Well, sorry to say, but I don’t care. I want to loose myself in a movie without having additional and unwanted information that the leading man is going through a divorce, or that the leading lady just gave birth and doesn’t want to hire a nanny. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.
I want my leading men and women to be mysterious. I don’t even need to know their real name – let alone their family situation.
Of course, the public’s hunger to know every little detail of an actor’s life has consequences. Apart from the privacy and stalker issues, it is also a two-way street. Celebrities are happily preaching to the masses about their religion (Madonna on Kabbalah; Tom Cruise on Scientology), about their vegetarian lifestyle (Pamela Anderson on PETA, Alicia Silverstone on being a Vegan), about guns (Charlton Heston), about breastfeeding (Julia Roberts).
Let’s face it, none of them are experts on any of those subjects and their opinion has the same value as yours or mine (or my cat’s come to think of it).
So I appeal to all existing and would-be movie stars in the making – please shroud yourself in mystery. Let us dream away without knowing what you paid for your facelift, who performed it on you and that your kid is in therapy since the tyke didn’t recognize you. Keep your private life private – no matter on which team you play.
Don’t air your laundry, dirty or clean – driers were not invented for nothing.
I know, it’s difficult nowadays to stay off the radar– but it can be done.If you are not able to stay out of the press and Internet at all, just do what the movie stars of old used to do – create your own (cyber)personality. Believe me, many of us will be grateful for letting us float on the stream of illusion. And you might save some major bucks in therapy as well……

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