I think I have reached the crux of the Ryan gosling/celebrity conundrum and it basically comes down to duality. And in a fascinatingly synergistic way, this whole weekend has been about the same.
The past four days have found me living in bizarro world, walking amongst throngs of thousands, tapping my manicured nails on glossy restaurant tables and passing elephants in the streets. Glimpsing celebrities and venturing underground on a screaming, rocking tin can, hurtling into darkness with hundreds of other anonymous strangers.
I think this, more so than the diet coke or the bright lights of the city, was what was jarring my system and keeping me up at night.
Culture shock, you could call it I suppose.
I couldn’t have fashioned a more anachronistic weekend if I’d tried- and that duality, that steep gully between my life and this, the life I’ve borrowed since Thursday, well it’s the reason I have so thoroughly enjoyed myself, but it also creates a deeply unsettling feeling when you find yourself so far from who you think you are.
Because it starts to become apparent that you AREN’T that person, (the look, the job, the location) not in any permanent sense anyway. If a simple weekend away can transform a person so fully from one state to the other…from jeans and worn sandals to glamour photos and cruel, black-tipped nails… Are we really so malleable?
Am I really so malleable?
And it’s not just the clothing. That becomes a sort of farce, anyone can pretend, put on a costume and play a part. But I think as the weekend progressed I began to recognize a sort of Sliding Doors scenario, I realized that this life, (or one like it) here, in this immense city, could have easily been my life.
And I would have been happy here, too.
It was that sense of duality that was keeping me awake at night, that kept my heart thumping so hard I thought it might leap from my chest; my life back home vs. my life here, my married self vs. the sense of being anonymous in a large city, the sharp divide between my job working with at-risk teens where I wear ripped jeans and am sometimes threatened and screamed at vs. my vacation self, sitting primly in a manicurists chair with one woman at my feet, another at my hands, bringing me tea and magazines.
And, of course, the duality- the difference – between a character and a man. (Ah, finally, why I didn’t, COULDN’T, fangirl over Ryan Gosling)
Here it is, I think:
When Kris and I emerged from the subway and made our way to the centre of the screaming crowd, it began to dawn on me that no one was there to see a person. They were there to see a character: Noah Calhoun from the Notebook, or Jacob from Crazy Stupid Love. They were there to see the man from the magazines, the paparazzi photos, the fifteen minute prepared witty banter from late night talk shows.
And, guys, that man does not exist.
I think this is why I was so unsettled as I stood there watching him walk down the line, shaking hands and signing autographs. Celebrity worship is being in love with an idea, a character, a set of lines or a five minute interview. And it’s all a farce and a show and a performance. Not that that makes it wrong, its just, guys, it’s not REAL.
There is, there must be, a separation between a person and a character. And I think people have lost their ability to differentiate between the two – or perhaps even worse, they don’t want to make that differentiation.
And it’s kind of embarrassing. For everyone involved. Because the man (Ryan Gosling or George Clooney or whomever) is appearing in front of you as their actual selves.
And in what other situation would you approach a real-life person and start screaming? If you had a crush on a guy at your work, would you dress up in a wedding gown and stand in front of him with a sign that says “Stuart- MARRY ME!!”
Um, FUCK NO. I should hope not. Why? Because this behaviour goes so far beyond weird that I struggle to find words for it. Because who would actually go for that?
And for the celebrities themselves, my god, this is their reality:
Dealing with obsessed, screaming hordes of people who are fervently praying for the chance- the honor- of touching their hand, smelling them, sleeping with them. Realizing this, can you blame them for the egos? The swagger? The entitlement?
None of this was attractive to me. I was embarrassed for the people throwing themselves against the metal barricade, I was embarrassed for the celebrities who seemed to enjoy and welcome this attention. I was just unsettled by the whole situation and I wanted no part of it.
And I think it was doubly disturbing because I realized that I too had no interest in actually meeting a person. I didn’t want to interact with another human being with flaws and body odor and ex-girlfriends and unattractive habits.
I too was searching for a two-dimensional character, someone who never deviated from the script and knew all the right things to say. Someone predictable and beautiful.
But guys, that doesn’t exist.
So. I’m afraid that this post has been a bit of a boner-killer, but I suppose it’s to be expected when you send a Sociologist to a movie premiere.