Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Watch Your Back

It's as hard to see one's self as it is to look backwards without turning around.

Thoreau.
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I could name names, but I won't. There are and have been some well known people in show business whose professional personae are the opposite of what they are really like. There are performers you have seen and enjoyed who project a positive demeanor in their work, some have been comic actors, musical comedy heroes, friendly, kindly, likeable types who are gifted entertainers and whose gifts stop the minute they walk off stage or the camera shuts off.

Fortunately I have never had to work closely with any such skunks, but I have seen them in action and heard tales, some of which are too graphically sick for me to repeat here.

Here are a few ways such moral criminals work. An actor will do his best to make another actor mess up and then when they are backstage or when the camera is off blame the other guy for messing up. I knew an actor who refused to say his lines properly until opening night. He didn't gave a clean cue. We never knew what he was going to say. When on opening night he got his lines right, we weren't prepared for it, we hesitated, the timing was off and afterworld he criticized us for being unprepared. I knew an actress who jumped on people's lines and wouldn't let them finish and then criticize them for taking too much time. I've known actors who will stick their faces out from behind scenery to intrude on others and get a laugh.

You see this in films, on stage and on TV and radio. I once worked with a radio announcer who was a gifted broadcaster. But his gift as a human being stopped when the microphone went off. He was very clever and funny. But his humor consisted mainly in making fun of other people. It was very amusing as long ss you weren't the subject of his jokes. His meanness was more than a streak, it was the armor he wore and the skin that covered him.

We shared a studio. I worked in the morning and he in the afternoon. There was a stuffed rocking chair at the control board where we worked. One day I fell and hurt my back. It wasn't a serious injury but it was painful for me to sit in that chair. I found a straight back chair, put the other one aside and used it. It helped. I always put back the first chair for him before he came on. One day I forgot and he became so enraged he hid the straight backed chair in the garage. When I came to work early the next morning, I couldn't find it. The morning show was too busy for me to take the time to find it, so I had to do a days work in great discomfort.

Unfortunately his nasty humor wasn't confined to when the microphone was off. He would say anything about anybody over the air. One day I said to him "Watch your back" the people you talk about it don't like it, they will be resentful. His answer was "I don't care." So sure enough one day he insulted the wrong person and was fired instantly, taken right off the board while a record was playing and sent packing. The boss took over, The clever cracked pot announcer left town.

I may be an innocent soul, but I have never understood that kind of behavior. What gives a person the right to think that just because he is popular he can be reductive to those around him. How can a person be so successful at pleasing and influencing others and yet have no strength of character? What does that sort of misbehavior do fo the world? And what does it do to rob the person who does it of the best of themselves? What does the rest of the world see of us that we don't see? We can't see the trail of good or evil, seeds or garbage we leave behind us without turning around and looking. So turning around often is what we must do. For it's in turning around, watching our backs, seeing where we've come from, what we've done and the impression we have made on the world, that can help us to understand ourselves. It takes courage, something the bully lacks but the wise person welcomes..

As Robert Burns put it, "O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us."

DB ' The Vagabond
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AUTUMN QUESTION

(This is not a contest.)

At what event of the past do you wish you could be present? Why?

Only 5 responses so far.

dbdacoba@aol.com

Thank you.
DB
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5 comments:

Liz said...

The world is a stage.
Can’t you see the actors that grab the limelight irrespective of their talent?
Can’t you see the actors that lie in order to climb the ladder of success?
Open your eyes to the world and you will see it is perfectly reflected on your small stage on and off the boards.

To Robert Burns,
O that we would find the power to open our own eyes wide enough to see our true reflection!

FrankandMary said...

I've never found a shortage of malignant narcissism in the world.
~Mary

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

We can only hope that in our country, and between countries, there is more dialogue and less discourse.

Sienna said...

I don't know if I could pick just one event to be present for because so many important events are only important afterward. For example, the birth of Christ was probably just like the birth of every other baby (that's not quite the bible's version, but I'm certain it was) so for "fun" factor only, I'd have to say my parent's wedding. :) According to all the stories, it was a pretty good time.

Just Bill said...

Dana, I have always said "What you see is what you get." as far as I present myself.
I strive not to be a phoney or bragger or a bore.
I think I have developed an ability to spot a phoney within ten minutes of conversation. I have not been wrong very often, in my opinion.