Monday, April 07, 2008

Recorded before a live audience

As television has become a fixture in virtually every household in the developed world, and penetrated pretty deeply in many other areas, we've all learned how to become better actors by watching the professionals.

Humans like fiction. But the fully developed presentations of film and video make it possible not just to study a description of a character's actions but to study the speech patterns and every nuance of gesture in a performer's portrayal of it. Now more than ever before in history, we can -- and often do -- choose a fictional character who never existed, played by an actor we will never meet as our principle role model.

Throughout the long and mostly undocumented ancient history of our species, storytellers passed down the legends and lore that contained the stories used to teach character and behavior. But when you can see stories from many eras frozen exactly as performed and repeated on demand it reaches a vastly larger number of people in a short time. And now it's been going on long enough to become the unquestioned norm. Not too many people questioned whether we should become like that as we were in the process. Now we are that way.

It isn't just limited to fiction, of course. Any person we see a lot will affect our behavior whether they attract or repel us. We fill in more of the blanks around people we see less. It becomes more like it was when you might hear a story once or a few times, or read a book, and have to imagine a lot of details.

With some of these characters, the purportedly real ones, we often get more details than we asked for.

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