It’s funny how people’s jobs stop them from enjoying things. My friend who is a designer got upset the other day because the name of a hotel was written in lower case letters on one side of the building and in upper case letters on the other. Another friend buys advertising for a TV channel and spends every ad break analysing what the ads say about the demographic of the people who are watching the programmes they punctuate (“Why are people who watch Bargain Hunt obsessed with life insurance?”). The sad truth is that getting up close and personal with any industry will ruin the magic for you quicker than a Vegas wedding will ruin what might have been a long and healthy friendship.
This is particularly true of acting because it actually ruins something that people are supposed to do for fun, rather than just adverts and buildings (apologies to any keen building-spotters reading this). I am absolutely insufferable when it comes to watching TV, films and plays, because it’s not just my own party that I will comprehensively poop with my unshutupable insider narrative, but also that of whoever has the misfortune to sit down sociably with me to watch something.
“You anticipated the answer to that question, didn’t you?” I’ll ask Orlando Bloom. “Don’t TRY to cry, try NOT to cry,” I’ll shout at Mercedes from Hollyoaks. “Stop playing a state, play your objective!” I’ll huff at an actor during a play (in my head). “I wonder how they made that baby cry,” I’ll wonder aloud, spoiling everyone’s enjoyment of the scene as they imagine a poor baby being horribly upset or frightened by some film set runner so that its parents can make money from it. “I wonder how they get the blood out of the costumes in time for the next show,” I’ll muse while walking out of Romeo and Juliet. Nothing is safe from me. I will oust supposedly ‘real’ testimonials on adverts by telling whoever is listening that I applied for the role of one of the ‘real’ customers on the advert, and I’ll inexplicably shout “That’s Jonathan!” during the next one. I can see where someone on Made in Chelsea has been told to say something specific at some point during the natural, normal, totally everyday conversation they’re having in front of a camera crew, and I will point out that all the other people in the cafe in which the conversation is taking place are professional actors who probably aren’t being paid very much. Watching something with me is like trying to enjoy a Big Mac with the guy who runs the abattoir.
As miserable as it is for my friends who have to listen to my ranting most of the time, this phenomenon makes it twice as special for me when I watch something that genuinely grips me. When usually all you see is cogs and batteries and moving parts, being taken in by something that successfully manages to suspend your disbelief is truly wonderful, and is what stops me from becoming completely cynical. My Vegas marriage isn’t perfect, but between the spats and bickering there are moments of pure marital bliss.
Photo by Flickr user Dr Evil Zombie under a Creative Commons Licence.