“You can’t be serious?” Kleinpiet stares at the article, shocked to the core. He’s always liked the actress, but this is a bit too much. Gertruida found this article on the Internet, outlining allegations that have not been contested or denied…
“I’m afraid you’ll have to adjust your opinion about international politics – and actors. It isn’t just about individuals trying to do well – it’s also about image and positioning.”
Gertruida gets up to walk to the window. It is a beautiful day in the Kalahari, with the slightest of hints of clouds on the horizon. At least here, she thinks, things remain fairly constant.
“It has become fashionable for actors to play the political game. Reagan became president, remember? Italy had Gina Lollobrigida, America boasts with Schwarzenegger, Clooney and Clint Eastwood , and now we’ve got our own Oscar-winning contribution to international affairs.”
“But it’s not only actors, Gertruida. I think one must consider musicians as well.” Fanny sighs as she remembers the impact John Lennon had on her life.
“That’s true. You must understand that some performers become icons. Their fame rests not only on what they do on the big screen or on stage, but it also involves their private lives. In fact, their private lives are responsible for millions and millions of printed words in magazines and newspapers every year – so it isn’t so private anymore.
“So, as soon as your performance elevates you above the level of mediocrity and people start noticing you, you become the object of close scrutiny. People want to know what sets you apart from the rest. That is the root of fame and fame breeds more curiosity. And that, my friends, is where the real acting starts.
“Today, the big money goes to entertainers. It doesn’t matter if you play golf, tennis, rugby, or the guitar. The bored masses of the world will fork out hard-earned money to be entertained, which generates more TV coverage, more sponsorships and more reports in the tabloids. Money, money, money…”
Boggel drums an irritated finger on the counter top. “Aren’t actors supposed to be intelligent?”
“Of course! But there is something else. Consider the ability to play different roles convincingly enough to win an Oscar. You have to pretend to be someone else with so much conviction, that you adopt another personality. In one movie you play the hero. In the next you’re a serial killer.
“Now, what does that tell you? To me it means that a great actor must have fragments of these personality types stashed away inside their minds. After all, you can’t portray a certain trait if you haven’t got it. Look at Vetfaan, or Oudoom: they can’t act even if you offered to pick up the tab for a month’s drink. They are what they are – nothing more and nothing less. But actors! They’re more than just a single individual.”
“Like politicians?” Precilla’s brow shoots up: the penny just dropped.
“Right you are. Politicians are the best actors in the world, my dear. Their speeches are scripts written by spindoctors and they are more diligent in their rehearsals than the most dedicated actor. Actors can fall back on editing, politicians do it live. Do you think Uncle Jacob writes his own speeches? Or that he addresses an audience without proper coaching beforehand? ”
“Okay, Gertruida, I get it. They all act. It’s fake.” Kleinpiet still stares at the newspaper clipping. “But why would Charlize support somebody like Malema, who said the honeymoon for whites in South Africa is over? Or talk to our president who sings about killing the Boers?”
Gertruida shakes her head. “It isn’t a new thing at all, Kleinpiet. Remember old Shakespeare?All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts?
“It’s about ego and power. If you can name five politicians who genuinely serve the people who’ve elected them, I’d be surprised. How many actors can you think of who remained true to themselves? Yes, there are more actors than politicians. And yes, you’ll find some actors involved in community service and upliftment – in South Africa we have quite a few. But once international fame comes knocking at your door, it comes with a price.
“So why would Charlize support a dubious cause? Why would she throw money at a corrupt system? After all, she must have known she’d lose the support of a few of her home-town admirers. But…it’s about posturing and politics. As much as one must admire her work as UN envoy to raise awareness of AIDS; and as wonderful as her foundation to improve life in Africa may be, one must never forget one thing: it takes one bad apple to spoil the crate.”
Kleinpiet tears the clipping into small pieces before dropping it in the ashtray. He still doesn’t understand what Gertruida is trying to say – Charlize has been somebody he really, really liked. Now she’s just another actress on the big stage of Life, a good one at that; but one who is playing out a role, saying memorised words and miming rehearsed actions.
Is she for real?
“Gimme another beer,” his voice is tired. “If that article is genuine, I have to think about this. It feels as if I’m trapped in a Hollywood studio where everything is make-believe.”
“That, Kleinpiet, is the illusion we all have to live with.” Gertruida reaches out to take the bottle from Boggel. Smiling triumphantly, she takes a swig. “What you see isn’t what you get…”
It’s a Barnum and Bailey world
Just as phony as it can be
But it wouldn’t be make-believe
If you believed in me