East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Not exactly real

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My mother was born in 1938, so she was a teenager in the late ’40s and early ’50s, when teenagers were not yet a thing, but anyway… she was an adolescent when the big thing were movies, and she was absolutely in love with movies. In my mother’s family the rule was that even if money was short, there should be books and films. So my mother went and saw all the classics, Captain Blood and The Sacrlett Pimpernel, and all those.
She had to leave the room during The Four Feathers, because the humiliations the character was going through broke her heart.
Her favorite actor was Tyrone Power.

She would buy magazines, such as gossip/celebrity rag “Confidenze”, cut the actor’s and actresses photos, and stick them in albums. We found a stack of those, when we cleared my grandmother’s attic, forty years ago. Hundreds of pictures of classic Hollywood actors and actresses, and the occasional singer (Sinatra was a big hit with mom).
I don’t know what happened to those albums – maybe my uncle got them.

My mother would often say that for a girl in the early ’50s, movies stars were something unreal, the line between character and actor very thin.

I could say the same thing about writers and comic book artists when I was in my early teens – they were heroes of my personal mythology, and as with all mythologies they were not real, they were something else, something maybe I dreamed of being.

Today, social media make it a lot easier to get close to “celebrities” – writers, actors, singers, are all just a tweet away. And yet today I saw something that made me think about those mythological creatures my mother watched from afar.

A guy in some group makes a series of scathing and unjust comments about the physical appearance of an actress, that’s been slated to portray a character (from a comic book) he believes she is not fit to portray.
The comments are very insulting.

Someone picks up that post – as it happens on social media – and makes some scathing comments about the guy.
The guy reacts claiming he’s been offended, and gets very aggressive.

And I found this interesting because insulting “public figures” is OK … they are far away, or maybe their skin is thicker, or it’s part of the package, it comes with fame and fortune. They are not exactly real. But if somebody bites back after we have insulted a movie star, hey, that’s offensive, and decidedly a no-no.

Because I am a real person and I have feelings, she’s just a movie star.

And indeed, a friend that works as a media manager for a number of young women out there (singers, models etc), sometimes mentions the horror of some of the messages he has to filter.

Despite the technology, and the tweets, and the closeness we can enjoy, “stars” are still unreal to some of us, and these people feel OK saying things about them or to them they’d be extremely pissed off were they on the receiving end.

Weird, don’t you think?
Technology is changing us, but some things deep down are still the same.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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