Our Violent Selves

You know, I just twittered about this, but 140 characters just wasn’t enough to convey my sentiment.  Go figure.  There are other things I could be doing right now, but nothing seems quite as important as this just now.

The way we treat actors in this country is utterly reprehensible.  Utterly.

We idolize them, making them into icons of perfection that they, of course, are not, and we set our expectations so high that they sometimes harm themselves in trying to satisfy them, and us, except our appetite is out of control, voracious and ever-thirsty.

We attack them, so deep in our own insanity we consider our behavior acceptable, justifiable, understandable, and we rationalize it away.  Except all of our reasons sound a lot like a rape offender trying to get out of the consequences of their own unacceptable behavior.  ‘Did you see what she was wearing?  She asked for it!  She was teasing me.  She’s just made for sex.  She didn’t have to say anything, I just knew.  We’d already gone so far, I had a right to finish…’  So we might imagine from someone who forced themselves on another person, sexually.  But what do we say about actors and paparazzi that is so very different?  We blame the actors, first of all.  Yes, let’s do blame the victim.  What a very enlightened way to deal with the situation.  “They’re actors.  They love the attention.  They knew this was going to happen.  It’s just part of being famous and successful.  They deny it, but they love the publicity.  We have a right to see and know where the go, who they meet, and what they do…”  And if that’s how we really feel, if we have already so easily, so successfully objectified them, it’s really only one short step to an outright attack on their person – physically, psychologically, emotionally, with a camera, with a rumor, with unwanted and obnoxious attention in moments that are otherwise privately enjoyed by everyone else in this world.

And this objectification… let’s break that down into a smaller word, shall we?  We strip them of their dignity.  The basic dignity that every human being has a right to claim.  My own understanding of this is rooted in my faith tradition, but I know full well that every single faith tradition, including humanism and existentialism, puts a very high value on preserving the dignity of every human being, whatever technical way the describe that dignity.  And how do we deny their dignity?  We strip them of the right to living their own private life.  We take advantage of every technology available to us, and we stalk them.  We make it our business to know who they had lunch with on Tuesday, if they think their co-star is pretty, we buy magazines that have photographs that were taken without their permission or knowledge whose articles are full of supposition, gossip, and rumor.  We ourselves may be the person who takes the illicit camera phone picture, or the person who throws themselves bodily at the poor actor, or we may simply buy the magazine in the grocery asile, supporting the massive industry that thrives on disrespecting people on the big screen and the small.

And then, we act innocent.

We refuse, even, to open our eyes to see how we support the evil that this is.  We take our violent infatuation, our violent need to know and turn it into a weapon that genuinely hurts people.  Why?  Because we can.  And no one calls us on our disrespectful, harmful behavior.

I’m not here to preach, I’ll leave that for Sunday.  I’m here to be outraged, and that I can do at any time.

I’m utterly outraged.  Yes, this blogpost was inspired by one particular attack on one particular actor, but anyone who has eyes to see knows that he is simply the actor of the moment, and only of the moment in some circles.  That any actor requires bodyguards is one excellent indication of the madness of our times.

To all the actors of the age, to all who aspire to exercise their craft without a desire to be placed on a pedestal and then be torn down from it, and to the actor of the moment who was attacked so recently, Mr. Robert Pattinson, you have my non-violent thoughts and prayers for your well-being, that you may find peace and joy in the midst of the violence to which you are subjected by people who claim to appreciate and respect you.  I wish you peace.


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