Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

by Daniel Depp

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby Buster » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:13 pm

nebraska wrote:
Then there is Johnny Depp the celebrity, who puts on the pubic persona for publicity appearances, interviews, red carpet walks, etc. - and that persona is almost as much a character as the roles he plays in the movies. I suppose a lot of us do that as well when circumstances dictate it, put on our best behavior etc. And then there is Johnny Depp the actor who is the celebrity playing a character role for the movie camera.


I agree that the public persona can be seen as yet another character an actor plays; we've certainly seen a bit of this in many of Johnny's interviews. He definitely comes across as real, and charming, but just as obviously he is not sharing everything (or even most things). It is a boundary issue, and like many boundary issues, can be easily misinterpreted.
Being able to create a character is a gift, but I don't think it should come with the obligation of responsibility for the audience's mental stability.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:09 pm

I am a big fan of Criminal Minds on television, but some episodes are so graphic and horrific I can't watch. Some of this may be the old chicken/egg debate - do we have more violence in society because our entertainment has become more violent, or is our entertainment merely a reflection of a more violent society? Or is it a vicious cycle?

Are tabloids published in response to people's desire to know more dirt about the stars, or do people become interested in this kind of story because the tabloids are displayed at the check out in every supermarket you go into?

I think the issue of personal responsibility on the part of the celebrity is an important part of what we are discussing -- what roles they choose to take, what kind of persona they choose to exhibit, what kind of attention they seek out. I don't think it is fair to blame a celebrity when a psycho goes off the deep end, but I do think celebrities should take the responsibility of their position seriously recognizing how much influence they can have.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby gemini » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:18 pm

Very interesting discussionn so far.
I would have to agree that the psycho has a problem having nothing to do with the star. The star is just unfortunate enough to be in the spotlight for them to home in on.
Having said that, I must say I still think both statements above are true. Spandau didn’t need to apologize because his statement was just as true as hers. I agree that actors do create a fantasy but that does not make them responsible for living in it.
I do judge actors on the films they choose to make. To me it is a reflection on the real person. Not whether they play the hero or villain but what I take with me after I see the film.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby Buster » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:23 pm

While I don't think we can dictate how celebrities present themselves in public, it is a definite plus when they model creativity and kindness. For better or worse, their media exposure makes them important influences.
I don't suppose a celebrity actually has to be a good example; they can just act like one. :bigwink:

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby fansmom » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:27 pm

Fantasy, from dictionary.com--
1. imagination, esp. when extravagant and unrestrained.
2. the forming of mental images, esp. wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.
3. a mental image, esp. when unreal or fantastic; vision: a nightmare fantasy.
4. Psychology . an imagined or conjured up sequence fulfilling a psychological need; daydream.
5. a hallucination.
6. a supposition based on no solid foundation; visionary idea; illusion: dreams of Utopias and similar fantasies.


If a fantasy is based on "no solid foundation," is an "illusion," is "unreal," I don't think the actor can bear much responsibility for influencing it. The fantasy is created in the viewer's mind.

This question makes me think of women's clothing (or the lack thereof) and the thoughts it can inspire in men. Remember reading that a well-turned ankle was a real turn-on a couple of hundred years ago? When the Taliban governed Afghanistan, they banned women from wearing shoes with audible heels, because the clicking of high heels was considered erotic. To me, those examples indicate that the responsibility lies with the listeners and viewers to control their behaviors. Anything can inspire us to fantasy. But what we do with those fantasies is our responsibility.
Last edited by fansmom on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby fireflydances » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:43 pm

Wow, I walk away for a few hours and bam! I am gonna put my thought out there and come back and read from 1PM on -- otherwise I'll end up entry number 48. So here goes, I start with a quote:

You spend your life trying to create a fantasy so real that people cross the line into a world you’ve created.
OK, when I first read the line above I didn’t see it as being about specific roles played by an actor. I thought Spandau was talking about Anna the star, Anna who’s become a larger than life representation of womanhood – something deliberately constructed to inspire dreams.

Deliberate? Well, I believe that the US at least has this “star” or celebrity culture which is explicitly designed to artificially close the gap between the observer and the observed. Why? Sell tickets and eventually sell a whole bunch more things from magazines to lunch boxes (ha!) People like Perec are at the far end of a continuum that includes little girls tarted out like their favorite girl singer and us, yeah even us. Starts out as a beautiful man or woman twenty feet tall on a flickering screen. Before you know it, it’s a photo spread, a stylist looking for the perfect dress or jeans and soon, somebody selling something and someone else buying it. It’s turning a person into a symbol to create a desire that becomes a dream that involves money.

So I see neither Anna nor Perec as responsible. Observed and observer, they play their little roles and most times nothing happens except some money exchanges hands. This whole little drama used to have a neat place in our lives – the movie theatre – and those days dreams were the end product. Now they’ve hooked a whole bunch of shiny little things to “movie dreams” and we are so inundated that we don’t know how to separate genuine dreams from manufactured dreams. So we get some Perecs, some unintended bumps and burps. (PS I am fascinated by group culture – sociology/anthropology major so I think this way far too often).
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby shadowydog » Sat Jan 08, 2011 12:57 pm

nebraska wrote:I am a big fan of Criminal Minds on television, but some episodes are so graphic and horrific I can't watch. Some of this may be the old chicken/egg debate - do we have more violence in society because our entertainment has become more violent, or is our entertainment merely a reflection of a more violent society? Or is it a vicious cycle?

Are tabloids published in response to people's desire to know more dirt about the stars, or do people become interested in this kind of story because the tabloids are displayed at the check out in every supermarket you go into?

I think the issue of personal responsibility on the part of the celebrity is an important part of what we are discussing -- what roles they choose to take, what kind of persona they choose to exhibit, what kind of attention they seek out. I don't think it is fair to blame a celebrity when a psycho goes off the deep end, but I do think celebrities should take the responsibility of their position seriously recognizing how much influence they can have.


Completely agree. I think it is commonly recognized that how actors behave on and off the screen can impact the behavior of people. For instance those who smoke; drink; and take drugs openly can influence people to experiment with these items. The way they dress and talk in public creates imitations. Look at the problems with eating disorders because young girls want to be as thin as the models or movie stars.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:35 pm

shadowydog wrote:Completely agree. I think it is commonly recognized that how actors behave on and off the screen can impact the behavior of people. For instance those who smoke; drink; and take drugs openly can influence people to experiment with these items. The way they dress and talk in public creates imitations. Look at the problems with eating disorders because young girls want to be as thin as the models or movie stars.

Like get a tattoo. :blush:

There is definitely a lot of imitation going on, like the girls dressed like their favorite singers as firefly mentioned. That kind of thing seems pretty harmless to me, though. But I do think that it can go further, with smoking or for young girls who feel the pressure to have the model figure. But I also think that there are certain personality types who are susceptible to that.

I do think that an actor should keep in mind that he/she is influential and not take advantage of that just for publicity. On the other hand, I think that the actor should be able to be authentic as opposed to having to portray a certain public image.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jan 08, 2011 3:39 pm

Linda Lee wrote:
Liz wrote:
Linda Lee wrote:
Although what Mr. Spandau is talking about is actor's who extend that fantasy into real life and lead us to believe that the fantasy can be reality.

Linda Lee, can you elaborate on this? I'm not sure I understand. :dunce: But I feel that it might be key to this discussion.



"It doesn't end there, though, does it? How many people have you got who help you carry that fantasy right out the door?" - Spandau

He goes on to mention talk shows and press conferences and photo shoots that continue the fantasy of the actor's desirability, sex appeal, perfection. I took this to mean, it's the actors who want to call attention to themselves, those who have a love affair with publicity of all types including the paparazzi, notifying them when and where the actor will be so there is sure to be fuss. They always need to be in the limelight.

I know that film promotion and some degree of self promotion is part of an actor's job but as in anything there are degrees. I also agree with Nebraska's post concerning the creation of a public persona, I'm sure it's probably necessary for the actor to maintain their mental health.


Thanks for the elaboration, Linda Lee. That helped. I should have gone back and read that chapter again. I do see his point now--that actors take it further. But it is what all actors do to promote themselves. I think that it must be the extreme examples of this that can be a problem.
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Re: Babylon Nights Question #1 ~ The Actor's Responsibility

Unread postby Linda Lee » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:35 pm

I agree that it is when taken to the extreme that it can be a problem. Most of the legitimate stars seem to avoid the paparazzi as much as possible.
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