on actors

Let us explore the many reasons for the many things we call actors.

Our society is fascinated by actors. Some of this is the fascination of celebrity, movies and television (discussed in other essays) but some transcends that because they are actors.

On the celebrity side, actors are like having a relative in common. We know them. We have seen them age and grow and struggle in their lives. Old actors are like old relatives.

We DO know that actors are attractive.
We may not know why we are attracted. or what attracts us.

Actors come to use full-screen, larger then life.

Actors can play many roles, and so have a power of metamorphosis denied but envied by the rest of us.
Movie stars show us that the same person can transform themselves into a number of different personalities This gives us hope. Maybe I can transform myself into a movie star.

On top of that, in today's cinema actors have supernatural and magical powers.

Knowing the actors in a film is a kind of human recognition — and this is a favored feeling.

Seeing an actor in person endows a special kind of status on the person. If you see say Tom Cruise in the restaurant, people cannot stop paying attention and that fact will no doubt be the major story you tell your friends tomorrow. He looked older | younger, shorter | taller, tired | lively than I expected. It is like you saw a rare animal, or a god.
And people will be interested.
And this will be true whether the person who saw tom Cruise, or the person hearing the story about seeing Tom Cruise, think | feel they should be interested in this or not.

We think | speak in celebrities as we also do in gifts, song, album covers, and clothing.

Actors have lines and patterns of behavior sketched put for them, in a stage that is safe for them. There are no consequences for an actor being raging mad, or hostile.

Actors have their lines pre-written, unlike the rest of us who have to improvise something on the spot. Unless we can quote a line from a movie.

Why do actors get the primary credits in movies? With only some exaggeration it is like giving airline stewardesses primary credit for a transoceanic flight.

Is there a consequence to society's fascination with actors?

If this was a minor fascination of a small number of people, like say the cabooses used on the Burlington-Northern railroad, this would not be a problem as much as a benefit.

If the mind had an endelss amount of space for storage and interests, like a huge library, this would not be a problem as much as a benefit.

But if our minds and our cultures are not limitless, and a concern with actors becomes a major concern in society, then there might be unanticipated consequences.

What do we lose if we exchange a fascination with books for a fascination with movies? To answer this we would need to know what books and traditional cultural heroes provide.

[ back ]