When your job is being other people, it’s probably not always easy to know when to let the “you” behind the “them” come out. I’ve always thought that actors might find doing interviews out 0f character cathartic, because they have an opportunity to connect with the audience as a person. But what if the interview itself is yet another illusory forum?
Megan Fox gave a short interview to Access Hollywood and said something I find really interesting.
When I sit down to talk to men’s magazines, there’s a certain character that I play. She’s not fully fleshed out — she doesn’t have her own name — but she shows up to do men’s magazine interviews. There’s something so ridiculous about always being in your underwear in those magazines, and you know the interview is going to run opposite those pictures. So, there’s a character that talks to all of them.
It’s dawning on me that magazines play a trick on us. The allure of an interview with a celebrity is that you’re going to see something “real” about a person–not just another character. But the truth is probably closer to what Fox describes. Depending on the nature of the magazine, an actor likely registers to the target audience as they would in any media venue. As Fox says, “there’s a character that talks to all of them.”
I’m sure actors (and I don’t want to recklessly generalize here, so let’s say some actors) have different reasons for doing this. For Fox, I have a sense that she’s toying with the readership of men’s magazines because she knows exactly why men read them and that she factors into the equation as a very particular kind of character–a sassy smart minx who enjoys parading around in lingerie most of the day. That’s what they want so that’s what she gives them, all the while laughing to herself about how ridiculous the role is.
That’s one interpretation. Here’s another: actors, or really anyone communicating with others, are always in a role. There isn’t a “you” behind the “them” because each of us is by definition a composite “them.” Where you find yourself–giving an interview, chatting with someone at work, writing a blog–colors who you are in that interaction. You’re not always the same person, so to speak, and that’s perfectly normal.
That’s the contention of a quite old school of psychological thought that every so often gains a new burst of momentum. Carl Jung divided the psyche into subparts (which he called “complexes”) that can be thought of as distinct personalities. Robert Assagioli, pioneer of the early 20th century psychological movement called psychosynthesis, worked extensively with the concept of subpersonalities. More recently, psychologist Kenneth Gergen coined the terms “multi-being” and “relational being” to suggest that what we think of as the individual self is really a vector point for multiple subpersonality relationships (illusion of one covering the existence of many).
Most recently, science writer Rita Carter introduced the term “Multiplicity” in her book of the same name to describe the multiple personality relationships that occupy this thing we like to call the ‘self.’ (I did an interview with Carter here , if you’re interested).
Perhaps what Megan Fox does in interviews isn’t really much different than what all of us do every day–registering with whomever we’re interacting via the personality that fits the need. But rather than consciously doing so, like Fox in men’s magazines, we do it without ever really thinking it through. It’s who we are by nature — a relational ‘they’ within an illusory ‘I’.