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Personality vs Performance?


SansFin
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There is currently discussion in the thread for Loretta Young being Star of the Month concerning what kind of person she was in real life.

 

I have seen similar discussions concerning other actors. Some people feel very strongly that a star's personal life should be a factor in judging their performances.

 

I admit that I have a disconnect. A good performance means that I am not seeing the star as themself and I am instead seeing them as the character. I believe this is crucial indeed to calling it a good performance.

 

I would likely not like Robin Hood if I associated him with underage sex but Robin Hood is not that person: that person disappeared from the world as soon as Robin Hood swung onto that tree limb and that person reappeared only when the movie ended and he was out of sight to us.

 

It is much the same with Marianne in *Massacre Harbor* (1968). I believe she is brave to help the Allies and even more brave to sing in front of an audience when some of them are armed. She is not the same person as had an affair with the married attorney who defended her for causing the death of a handsome hot-bod skier.

 

A star's personality and behavior in real life are of no matter to me also because of a thing when I was a child:

 

Most of my classmates and I used cords or belts to tie our books together to make them easy to carry between home and school. Those who had special cloth bags for their books were envied. My uncle knew a man who knew a man and so was able to get for me a leather bag. Every bit of it was tooled and dyed with pictures of berries and flowers and scenes of a farm. My name was dyed on the straps and the letters were outlined with gilt. The stitching was three lines in differing colors which wove back and forth to look as if they were braided. It was soft and strong and beautiful and it looked gloriously expensive. I was very proud of it and I loved it dearly.

 

There was a fad when I became a teenager to have leather coats which looked like tunics. I asked my uncle if he could have the same man make for me such a coat. It is sad to say it could not be done because to make it properly the man would need to fit it to me but he was never allowed to have children visit him because he had raped and beaten his grand-daughters. It had been against strict prison rules that he had been told my name when he was making the bag for me.

 

I believe that was my first cogent realization that you can not assume what a person is like by looking at their work nor judge their work by what kind of person they are. That he was a most horrible savage did not make the delicate flowers or elegant stitching on the bag any less beautiful.

 

The fact that a star was so socially acceptable that they were not put in prison or an institution and that other people desired to work with them means they could not have been as evil as some people seem to want us to believe.

 

Many stars were ostracized by the Hollywood machine because their behavior was unacceptable. Some stars lost their careers because of having to go to prison. A few stars may have died because it was thought that murdering them was better than letting them drag all of Hollywood into scandal.

 

Those who worked steadily and were nearly always in demand could therefore be no worse than people in any other profession.

 

Does any person care if their coffee-maker was assembled by an adulterer?

Does any person care if their favorite work of art was painted by a transvestite?

Does any person care if their web browser was designed by an egomaniacal thief?

 

I see no difference in those from caring if a character in a movie is named in the credits as being portrayed by a person I would not welcome into my home because of their moral, political or sexual values.

 

Your Mileage May Vary ;)

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I haven't been following the Loretta Young thread. I think whatever she got up to in her private life was not really evil, as far as I know. I guess there could be a line beyond which there might be some concern, if an actor was really evil. I remember people picketing the South African building in Trafalgar Square in London, and encouraging sanctions. That helped end apartheid.

 

But my issue is this: I think Loretta Young is a really BAD actress. And that means from the pre-codes to the late stuff. She ruins many movies for me.

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Glad you posted this post. If I may use your words to reply:

 

Some people feel very strongly that a star's personal life should be a factor in judging their performances.

 

I am biased on this, I admit. I happen to think LY is gorgeous, am not interested in what she did, and am only mildly interested in her films. However, I will boycott all Fatty Arbuckle films (I hate silents anyway) and Lee Marvin films and any of the HUAC cowardly namers. So, I understand this bias, but don't feel the same about Loretta.

 

It is sad to say it could not be done because to make it properly the man would need to fit it to me but he was never allowed to have children visit him because he had raped and beaten his grand-daughters. It had been against strict prison rules that he had been told my name when he was making the bag for me.

 

Wow. Thank you for sharing that. I have an equally horrific personal story that I won't share here. But I can completely and utterly understand where you are coming from. Except that, sadly, I still judge an actor's performance based on his personal life, and kudos to you for not doing so, given your experiences.

 

That he was a most horrible savage did not make the delicate flowers or elegant stitching on the bag any less beautiful.

 

Sorry, I disagree most vehemently with you there. As you can recall, Hitler was an artist.

 

Many stars were ostracized by the Hollywood machine because their behavior was unacceptable.

 

That is where I admit I am a hypocrite. I am the final arbiter on what constitutes a horrific transgression. I hope Cohn and McCarthy the other monsters of the HUAC are burning in the hottest areas of hell. Those who named names should also be burning in hell. I decide what is unacceptable behavior - Marvin beat women, I hope he is burning in hell along with Kazan - and cannot forget what they did when I watch movies. Again, the fact that you can is amazing.

 

Does any person care if their coffee-maker was assembled by an adulterer?

Does any person care if their web browser was designed by an egomaniacal thief?

 

Given what I just found out in my personal life, yes. Numbers 1 and 3 are crimes, Number 2 is not, and so I deleted it.

 

I see no difference in those from caring if a character in a movie is named in the credits as being portrayed by a person I would not welcome into my home because of their moral, political or sexual values.

 

Your Mileage May Vary

 

I do and mine does. Thank you, SansFin, for one of the most intelligent posts I have seen on this thread and which no doubt will result in moronic responses which will most likely get this thread locked. I salute you, SansFIn.

 

 

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Esther Williams-----great personality, lousy performances (at least, out of the water)

Finance, how can you do that? Don't you know that TCM has twice chosen Esther Williams as Star of the Month. Don't you see how you're insulting her fans, possibly causing grief to her family as well as denigrating the efforts of the TCM staff who thought so much of Esther? ;)

 

PS - I agree with you.

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Gee, my answer won't be as thought out as either the original post or the last one I read.

 

My answer is a rock solid, "it depends".

 

I never boycotted Chaplin or Woody Allen. I would boycott Polanski if I had ever cared in the first place. Some actors whose politics bother me, I'm not affect by at all while I consciously avoid others.

 

I guess my real answer is that if I was already drawn to their performances, I'll probably make allowances for the other stuff. I'm not consistent, something many of us here apparently aren't, but I'm human.

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I agree with you, SansFin - If a movie is great, and the actor is great, the viewer is pulled in and he/she is swept up in the character, not the actor portraying the character.

 

For some people, analyzing the actor's personality or private life can take the fun out of watching the performance on screen. I would rather watch Robin Hood for what it is than say, "There's the guy who ran into trouble with those underage girls." Then a movie isn't really a form of "escape".

 

On another note, I'm sure there were many an actor/actress who loved to play roles as a way to escape themselves.

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Haven't we discussed the disconnect from an artist and their art before?

 

 

Anyway, it's always a good discussion topic. And I imagine some of it would have to do with whatever said artist has DONE in their personal life and how it jibes with YOUR personal feelings.

 

 

I don't care if my coffee maker was built by an adulterer. I don't consider it that much of a crime. Unless, of course, if he was adulturous with MY WIFE. THAT might make a difference. But as one who would be considered an adulterer at one point of my life, it would be foolish for me to take umbrage.

 

 

If I like any artist's work, I don't care if they're a transvestite, gay, athiest, Catholic, right-wing, left-wing, vegan or whatever. If they were a child molester however, I'd be left to wonder how someone, like the man who made your book bag, could make something so beautiful, yet also do something so ugly.

 

 

I still like Walter Brennan in spite of his racism.

 

 

I still like old Shirley Temple movies in spite of her conservatism.

 

 

I still like Bob Crane in spite of his personal sexual depravity, mostly because it was between consenting adults.

 

 

I still listen to my old Cat Stevens recordings in spite of his Islamic fundementalism.

 

 

I still cherish my Frank Zappa collection in spite of his basically being a jerk otherwise.

 

 

I really don't see the sense in disregarding a talented artist's work simply because they're not the kind of person you'd invite to dinner. As I said, it all depends on WHAT is done in their personal lives and how it affects your personal sensibilities. I'd never condemn anybody for how they react in any situation I've never faced, or haven't yet faced. I usually try to avoid being an "armchair" judge and jury. We here as movie fans have to beware of judging someone based on what little actual facts we're privy to. I've always felt a little sorry for Fatty Arbuckle because as far as I know, he threw a party that got out of control. From all I've been able to discover about the incident, Arbuckle was cleared of any personal wrongdoing. But it STILL wound up ruining his career. And that always seemed terribly unfair. The reason I DON'T watch any of his movies is because I never really cared for them. Personally, and fortunately, many people I know still come to my house in spite of my once throwing a New Year's party where a guy I know started beating up his wife in a drunken rage. They wisely didn't blame ME for it, and it's all now forgotten.

 

 

But returning to the point, for me, usually performance trumps personality.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}

> But my issue is this: I think Loretta Young is a really BAD actress. And that means from the pre-codes to the late stuff. She ruins many movies for me.

 

She is like many other stars for me in that I like her very much in some roles and I like her much less in other roles and I dislike her actively in other roles.

 

I avoid watching a few movies I have not seen because there is an actor whom I can not abide. One of the major ones is Marlon Brando. I believe I might like some of his movies very much if he could be digitally exorcised from them.

 

It appears to me that you feel much that way about Loretta Young.

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> {quote:title=willbefree25 wrote:}{quote}

>> That he was a most horrible savage did not make the delicate flowers or elegant stitching on the bag any less beautiful.

>

> Sorry, I disagree most vehemently with you there. As you can recall, Hitler was an artist.

 

This for me conjures a vision of walking through a museum and saying: "I love that painting very much and feel that it touches me deeply if the artist is a good person but I hate it and feel it should be censored if the artist is a sinner".

 

That manner of thought is foreign to me.

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It is to me as well, until I know the backstory on the artist. I didn't mind Kazan or Robbins or any of the other name namers until I knew they had named names. I didn't mind Marvin until I knew his backstory.

 

As I said, I didn't know I had monsters in my RL until I knew they were monsters. Monsters are very clever that way.

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> {quote:title=ginnyfan wrote:}{quote}

> My answer is a rock solid, "it depends".

 

:)

 

> I never boycotted Chaplin or Woody Allen. I would boycott Polanski if I had ever cared in the first place. Some actors whose politics bother me, I'm not affect by at all while I consciously avoid others.

 

I believe it is easier for some people to set aside their distaste when it concerns actors who have passed and it will in no way benefit them to watch their work.

 

It may be harder to disassociate when the person is alive and watching their work can provide them with even a meager measure of popularity or money as that can be seen as supporting them and giving them tacit approval.

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While overall I agree with you here (i.e. I focus on the performance and not the personality of actors, musicians, artist), I can see that if someone is activity in the news, in a negative way, that could impact how one 'takes in' the performance of this person in a real time way; i.e. would one go to their concert or see a movie they are in. But for me the actual negative behavior would have to be very offensive to me for it to have any real time impact.

 

But years or decades later. No impact.

 

 

 

 

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> {quote:title=EugeniaH wrote:}{quote}

> For some people, analyzing the actor's personality or private life can take the fun out of watching the performance on screen.

 

I must admit that I do not understand the cult of fandom wherein people feel they must know details of an actor's life. I believe a part of me wants actors to not exist except in their roles.

 

> I would rather watch Robin Hood for what it is than say, "There's the guy who ran into trouble with those underage girls." Then a movie isn't really a form of "escape".

 

That is perfectly my feeling also.

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> {quote:title=Sepiatone wrote:}{quote}

> If they were a child molester however, I'd be left to wonder how someone, like the man who made your book bag, could make something so beautiful, yet also do something so ugly.

 

I believe that the person who can find why good people do bad things and why bad people do good things will soon be the richest psychologist in the world.

 

> I really don't see the sense in disregarding a talented artist's work simply because they're not the kind of person you'd invite to dinner.

 

I must wonder how it feels to love a work of art for many years and then to have to instantly hate it because you learn the artist was a bad person. I do not think I could do it. That is not part of me.

 

> But returning to the point, for me, usually performance trumps personality.

 

That is me also.

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The only performer who's films I've ever boycotted was Woody Allen. I'll watch some of my old favs on tv, but I wont pay to see anything in a theater as I dont want him to benefit from my money. Oddly nothing anyone else has done in there private life or their beliefs has motivated me.........Havent seen anything of his since Husbands and Wives........

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I don't know about anybody else, but I watch movies to get AWAY from reality, not be reminded of it. So, having said that, I really don't give a rat's a** if John Wayne was a racist or Jane Fonda was a Commie or Loretta Young was (whatever you'd call it) or if a particular star voted Democrat, Republican or Whig. For the 120 minutes or so that I'm watching a movie, I am not watching actors I'm watching the characters. I've often wondered how anybody can even enjoy a movie if all they're thinking about is...'oh, she slept with him or he said this or that'....

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I wouldn't shake the hand of a handful of actors. I wouldn't want to discuss politics with a lot more of them. But I can't see boycotting a movie because of an actor's political views or his or her personal life.

 

YMMV of course, and I admit that when Jane Fonda was cheering on the Viet Cong it was a close call, even though I was against the war myself.

 

But Loretta Young? I'm a complete sucker for all of her pre-codes, and her sanctimony, hypocrisy, and all the rest of her baggage mean zero to me. Of course the fact that she's the most drop-dead gorgeous actress that's ever graced the silver screen might have a tad to do with my reaction..... B-)

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