I’ll be honest with you, I don’t like doing things by halves. Most definitely, I am an all or nothing girl. I totally grasp the notion of devotion too: the number of times I’ve fallen in love with people/ideas/inanimate objects and never had it reciprocated? Too many to count. When you play fast and loose with emotional favours, after a while you begin to grasp this sort of odd objectivity at how the process works. Allowing yourself to totally embrace someone or something is great, as long as you can see the entire thing being presented. In the case of rock star devotion (as a decent example) it is very easy just to be seduced by the onstage presence of your idol and not understand anything about the person behind the ‘image.’ If that person’s a total twat in reality? It is probably wise you don’t know a lot of the other stuff, but being blinded by almost total devotion to the person won’t ever end well.
Undoubtedly you’ll end up with your heart broken.
I’m writing a set of essays for the fiction site, and as I try and get the first one completed, the subject of the inaugural letter keeps taunting me, not unlike his GIF above. You see, my idea of ‘devotion’ has altered quite a lot since my teens, and I can’t help but think that I’ve done myself a massive disservice in the last few years in how I subconsciously ‘attach’ myself to the idea of certain people’s personas. Having written two pieces of fiction with Bond at their centre, I’ve now come to the conclusion I fell in love with the character first. It has been the ability of the leading actors to maintain that attraction over the years that matters far more than the individuals themselves, and that revelation came as something of a surprise. I understand now that the visuals presented and the character portrayed are very different constructs, when it comes to forming the notion of devotion with both. Daniel Craig’s the first Bond I’ve actually considered as an actor BEFORE the character, and I think it is a measure to his ability and application to profession that there’s a redefinition in my mind of how this entire process works.
That’s no mean feat, and grants considerable kudos in my mind to the man himself.
When you start subconsciously associating actors with roles, it does the individual a massive disservice, it occurs to me. That means that however varied and brilliant a career that person has, all anyone ever remembers on their passing is the most popular role. Even if this is at odds with what they really were away from the cameras, that becomes their epitaph. ‘They were probably best known as X in the production of Y’ might be great for your five minutes of fame in the blip of Human existence, but in the end living the life they had well should probably matter more, plus not just what happened in front of the camera. Here’s where things get really interesting from a writing point of view, that so many of the familiar faces and names of the last 100 years weren’t paragons of virtue, bore little or no resemblance to the characters that they became synonymous with. Yet still people don’t see past the image in their own minds. These people remain heroes, despite that being a long way from the truth.
Then you get wildcards: the ex-addicts, reformed alcoholics and those who struggle with mental illness. Everybody loves a second chance, can use the lessons of their own lives and apply them to heroes they see on screen. The actress who yo-yos between fat and thin. The Woman who divorces her husband with grace, or strings him by the balls for being unfaithful. Magazines are full of gossip and salacious titbits from the rich and famous to allow us as mere mortal a chance to compare and contrast. All of this devotion to other’s fallibility teaches us the merit of thought and application in our own lives. Forgiveness matters too, yet few people grasp the significance of the emotion. How long is appropriate penance for the lover scorned? If you fall off the wagon, was it simply inevitable? If you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur does the birth of a daughter really alter your entire world view?
Sometimes, questions will never be answered when your heroes need to remain just that.
The one thing I’ve learnt, and that is consistently apparent in whatever sphere I happen to be hanging in at any given point? People have very short memories. If something’s hugely popular, you’ll be back on the bandwagon whilst conveniently forgetting the reason why you jumped off. That’s fine, and as long as you’re lining the pockets of the people making the product, they don’t care either, whether that be movies, TV or gaming. Except eventually comes a realisation that if you want to make product with the widest possible scope and remit, you can’t have narrow minded, sexist and diversity-unfriendly heroes as your spokespeople. The way forward is with those who are prepared to embrace the fact they’re not actually the heroes either, that this is just a part being played and a job to be done. What you need isn’t personalities, but an ethos, and if you cannot change with the times? You’re in trouble. I suspect that’s why there won’t be a Bond 25 announcement this year because Eon Productions realise just how important Daniel Craig has become to the franchise’s evolution. Without a clear successor on the table either, maybe there’s more than just a male lead character to worry about going forward.
Devotion sometimes is the last thing you need to inspire in your fan base.