Friday, September 10, 2010

Hanging Out With The Enemy, Part 2

Like everyone else, I had seen The Lord of the Rings, and fallen a little under its spell. I mean, sure, I was a less into the trilogy's fantasy plot line and more into Aragorn fantasies featuring other male cast members, but despite my offbeat approach to LOTR fanhood, I had a lot of fun reading the slash fan fiction and getting used to the idea that many girls were also fantasising about the homoerotic aspects of the interactions between the actors. This brought up some interesting questions, such as Why are females drawn to performances of male homosexual love?, Is an international cast one of the keys to innovative performances? and Who on earth would inflict the exquisite-looking but utterly untalented Orlando Bloom upon other sentient beings?

These questions had to be put in the back of my mind while I attempted to put together a volume of collected essays on MTV, tried to teach English to primary school children in Hong Kong, and moved to Stanford to live with a disabled actor, all over the period of a few months. I was being pulled in greatly differing directions, and struggling to find comfort in the big, wide and mostly indifferent world.

As a response to all these rapid changes, I found myself avoiding many of the people in my new and irritating environment (Stanford is a conservative think-tank, according to Lonely Planet) and focusing on online activities in the privacy of the small but comfortable student accommodation.

Nevertheless, Brad insisted on my mingling with his Drama grad friends on certain social occasions, events which I had come to approach with a sort of morbid curiosity because, with the odd exception here and there, I felt everyone who opted to study in Stanford was not worthy of my attention.

Brad made no secret of his attraction to Mr. L, and regularly sought him out for company... we watched the Bush vs. Kerry debate in his luxurious Palo Alto house, drove around the Californian landscape together, and met up for tortuously vacuous lunches on campus. I learnt, amongst other things, that Mr L. had once been a fireman, and that he got kicks from identifying abandoned cars, driving them fast for some distance, and parking them in a different public location. I learnt that his recently deceased father had been an academic at Stanford before him, and that he had helped out Brad during some tough periods. I wanted to like him, but was something in the modernist mindset, the snobbishness and the hard-to-pin-down-overall-lack-of-decency that kept me far from jumping on Brad's bandwagon.

My favourite times during the eight or nine months I spent in the Bay Area were when I got the chance to sneak away to San Francisco... it was a splendid city, and I loved walking around the colourful neighbourhoods and participating in its innovative culture in my own 'alien' way. It was a welcome break from the tedium of Stanford, and a beautiful introduction into what is now one of my favourite cities in the world.

One day, as I was on my way from a movie theatre in a big shopping mall downtown, I saw a familiar white face staring out at me from a the dark background of a movie poster. The film was called The Kingdom of Heaven and there was Orlando Bloom, represented as the sole star of the movie. My dismay at seeing the actor I regarded as the least talented in the industry being thrust into such heights of superstardom was short, because my time hanging around Mr L. and the other superficial, status-seeking, immoral Drama people had made me realise that if people could get ahead by associating themselves with someone famous, they would. It didn't matter who the celebrity was, the point was to participate in Hollywood culture, climb the ladder, know the right people. Orlando Bloom may represent everything that was wrong with popular culture but people in the industry were hungry for work, and would embrace all that and more in order to get it.
I had had to travel to Northern California to answer my question: I could easily imagine people like Mr. L, all appearances and no scruples, collaborating with him without a second thought.

A month or two later, Brad came back from dinner with Mr. L to tell me that the Golden Boy had 'just come back from an interview with Mr. Bloom' in regards to a TV show project. I thanked my instincts and did my best not to crack up until Brad was out of earshot.

The movie Kingdom of Heaven received scathing reviews for its male lead performance. As far as I know, there is no TV show with Orlando Bloom in it. He seems, in this day and age, to have been largely forgotten by the Hollywood film industry.

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