How Much of Our Fidelity Is Acting?
Maybe it’s just an illusion of gossip-heavy mass media, but it sure seems that celebrity couples rarely stay true to one another till death do them part. The latest “news” of celebrity infidelity involves acting couple Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, who have just found themselves in a couple gossipy magazines after the apparently not so snow white Stewart allegedly cheated on her boyfriend with married director Rupert Sanders in a “marathon makeout session.” (Who writes these things?)
I would think that a life spent under the limelight pretending to be someone that you’re not takes its toll on any relationships you enter into. As they say among the Dothraki, it is known. On the flip side, I’m curious to know whether the love and fidelity of everyone involves some amount of acting. Faithful love has to be worked at, no matter who you are, but how much of this “working” is really acting, pretending, wearing the mask of the stranger?
In most cases, answering this may not be possible. I can imagine the sort of character who consciously goes through the motions of love and commitment, disliking or fearing the consequences of calling off the relationship, preferring fake love to real heartbreak or breakup; but I’d wager this sort isn’t the norm. I’ve been happily married for over eight years, and we’ve faced the sort of hardships that can tear a couple apart. I’m as happy being with my wife when we’re working together on the dishes as when we’re out for a night on the town. I see no insincerity on my part, but then I haven’t paused to contemplate the possibility that my love is something otherwise than what I think it is. I’ve seen no reason to do so, but then, given the special elusiveness of self-knowledge, I cannot say with absolute certainty that I’m not acting to some degree. I believe that I’m not. As best as I can tell my love is genuine. All signs point to it being the real thing. Nonetheless, the possibility is there, at least conceivably.
I like to think that my commitments are me being me, freely chosen with my full consent. This is a comforting thought, but I cannot shake the discomforting realization that I may not be I, that my decisions may be, in part if not fully, the result of acting. Does acting have to be done consciously to be acting? And what of the chemical and physical processes in my brain over which I have no control? Forget being an actor; I may be a doll. Free will may be a fiction. The signs suggest otherwise, but then the signs always have to be interpreted.
(Image, which makes it look as though someone is about to snatch Stewart away: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)