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My Philosophy on Acting -- An Open Secret

Acting... is such a weird notion from a philosophical perspective. On the one hand, it is a very luxurious industry, that exists primarily in movies, shows and so on. The people who serve as actors are met with fame and glory!

On the other hand, not only acting doesn't arguably give anything productive to society; It is praised even though it is, essentially, a glorified, accepted form of hypocrisy. This hypocrisy leads to another hypocrisy -- from some of its viewers: They may condemn hypocrisy, and yet support pretenders with their time and money, in the name of entertainment and culture.

How is acting a form of hypocrisy? Hypocrisy technically happens when someone pretends to be someone else that they are not. Usually, the problem in this, which doesn't apply to acting, is that the hypocrite deceives either others, themselves or both. The reason as to why acting is a special form of "deception" allegedly, is because it is an "open secret", or simply, a recognized pretentiousness from both sides -- the audience and the actor.

In other words, the audience that attends the cinema, already knows that the actors are acting and are not being themselves, usually. There are some exceptions, like in the sitcom "Seinfeld", where the main character plays as themselves, but the rest of the characters do not, but I digress.

Open secrets do not logically remove the fact that hypocrisy exists in certain areas of life. Even if we know that the character we view, isn't the person's true identity, it doesn't contradict the essentiality of acting being a well-accepted form of hypocrisy. After all, the actor acts! That's the whole idea! That they do not behave in a spontaneous matter.

They more often than not are given a script, and do not improvise, and memorize the text, the behaviour and so on, so their hypocritical immersion will entertain the audience who consume their content. Therefore, by this logic, every actor is, in some way, a professional hypocrite... Unless they are amateurs, which in this sense, they are amateur hypocrites.

We do not expect the "employed hypocrite" to apologize, as it is largely accepted that this employee doing this as a job whose purpose is clear to both sides: Be someone you're not, in exchange of benefitting somehow, through a salary for example, in exchange for providing entertainment, and be credited for your effort in a project (a show, a movie and so on).

As to why people don't accept that some forms of hypocrisy are normal and accepted, is beyond me. Of course, the actor is pretending, because if he wasn't pretending, he wouldn't be an actor, even if he or she appears as themselves in a work of fiction.

Even if someone appears as themselves and not under a recognized facade, they will nonetheless be hypocritical, because acting in general isn't natural, unless completely improvised. Both the real-life actor and the fictional actor are in some degree hypocrites because they already know that they are not in a natural situation, and likewise, act according to a script.

Why is this form of hypocrisy being very well liked? I'm asking sincerely as I'm an autist. One of the most famous actresses in my country is Gal Gadot, who made it to Hollywood, and for some reason, achieved great approval by pretending to be a superheroine in some movies. How can one approve of hypocrisy, and at the same time, condemn it? Would not it be making themselves, hypocrites?

Delusion isn't always necessary to be a hypocrite. Sometimes the pretender know they pretend. Although some hypocrites may be sunk by self-delusion, I don't think it's likely that Gadot believes she's Wonder Woman, now, does she?

Ironically, there may sometimes be cases where authenticity is problematic when acting. Why? Because being a "self-insert", or not pretending enough you're someone else, can be met with disapproval. There is a specific form of acting that mainly exists in more geek-like hobbies, such as online games and the well-known Dungeons and Dragons board game; It's called roleplaying.

As a role-player you are usually expected of yourself to be someone you're not, or in other words, create a character that is distinct to yourself. While it provides a good way to develop creativity and pass the time, it should not be denied that role-playing is also a form of acting, or in other words, a form of an "open secret" hypocrisy.

Why should it be condemned to be yourself? The actors need to work too, of that I am aware. But why should they be praised for their professional dishonesty? Maybe we can expand it to a more-general perspective: Why should people be condemned when being honest? Why is it a "mistake" to say to someone you love them, for example? Why is it expected that one is better off putting on a facade, while the truth is, or should be, far more desired?

Philosophy is a potentially endless quest for truth. If we are to support this endeavour, then why support things that contradict it, like hypocrisy and dishonesty (which are, to be frank, the same)? I myself was never good at lying, and as such, I find great appeal in my choice to philosophize. I genuinely believe that it would be hypocritical for me, to normally tolerate the same ways which contradict truth, which is deception.

I'll present this analogy: Let's say you have a certain person you hate, and you stumble to two pictures of him: One with a T-shirt and one with a business suit. Why would your feelings towards him, change, just because of their clothing?

Likewise, deception, whether it wears a T-shirt or a business suit, whether it is an actual secret or an "open secret" -- it's still deception/hypocrisy. Even though I was previously criticized of having this approach, I have no desire to give up on a logical argument, just because it is met with general disagreement. I also enjoy pieces of fiction, but I prefer spending my time, far more, on documentaries, whenever I have the energies to study through them.

Of course, fiction can also be used for study, which I did countless times in previous publishments. However, even if a form of deception can provide possible truths, by studying it, it doesn't make itself true like a piece of journalism or a documentary. It would only be natural for a genuine philosopher, therefore, to not see the notion of acting, and the stardom that may follow, as that important, or even luxurious.

Even if I could be a "movie star" as a part in my quest for World Relevance, I would turn the opportunity down, as relevancy, to a philosopher, isn't as important, as honesty and possible/existent truths! How can a committed philosopher betray his or her core values in exchange for greater renown? An honest person, acting dishonestly?

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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