Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dear @Shialabeouf I'm sorry I read your interview

Dear @ShiaLaBeouf,

Today I read your interview. It made me sad, and I cried. I'm actually very sorry that I read your interview because it was too personal. I got a very good look inside your head - and as much as I know about you, you know nothing about me - and that doesn't seem fair.



If I have empathy for someone I see on TV or read in a book or magazine, is that false? What good does it do for me to build empathy with someone that I'll never meet, and may not even be real? There's a difference between the feeling of empathy (I feel/imagine feeling what you are feeling) and a real connection between two people. What is a 'connection', anyway but a shared knowing and understanding of each other's feelings? If I know your feelings but you don't know mine, then I don't believe it's a real connection because it doesn't go two ways.

In the Shia LaBeouf interview, he expresses a range of feelings; anger, frustration, acceptance, and pain. Through his words (filtered through the interviewer's perspective) I think that I know what Shia is feeling. I am being given exactly what I think I want; the view inside someone else's head. His head. If he's playing a role or he's just being himself, either way the empathy I feel is real.

When I watch a movie, hear a great song or read a story, I get so much more (in most cases) than I ever would in real life. A narrator gives us the background and details. The camera eye follows people around a room, listening to everyone's conversations. It is this omniscience that gives me the false idea that I am connected to them. When I see an actor showing emotions; my mind wants to believe that they are a real person and it's their emotions I'm seeing. I see an actor play a role and go through a tragedy, and I fall into the belief that it's their tragedy.

I know this is just a one-way street. It's not a sharing of feelings; because he's not seeing me as I see him. If my best friend told me a story about how she was attacked by a bear, I would want to help her. I would want her to know that my heart beat with hers, and that I could be there for her if she needed me.

But if someone is on TV and is not a friend, and I see them go through something horrible (or something wonderful) how can I tell them I want to help them (share their joy with them)? They are far away and unreachable. They are not real (and I know they are not real). I crave connection and at the same time, I feel very disconnected and unsatisfied.


I feel that the best actors are the ones who are able to get their heads inside of the characters they play. They become the people we believe them to be, for the short while they play them. That makes it real - even if it's only for the time that the camera is on and pointed in their direction. There is something real going on; there is a real person in there, expressing real feelings.

Then when the show is done and the microphones are gone; these actors put those characters aside and become themselves again. The fictional character is gone but that doesn't stop me from wanting to keep that feeling alive. I hold on to the moment of belief so that I pretend that the famous actor is still actually the person we think they are. He's still the captain of the Starship Enterprise. [Or maybe he is.] She's still Mrs. Smith [Or maybe she is.]. It's not real; but it feels real and sometimes I want to keep it that way.