The Bad Guy: A Chat about Accountability
When studying acting, you are taught to find a piece of yourself in every character you play. You have to be the advocate of your character and it’s nearly impossible to connect to a character you can’t advocate for. Rarely does anyone want to search for some semblance of themselves in a villain. Sure, We’ve all have watched great villains and been able to understand them. You understand Joaxin Pheonix’s Joker. You’d never take the murderous approach he does, but you get him. And thankfully because the difference between you and him is so apparent, you leave the theater with a smirk on your face knowing you’ll never be like him. Proudly distancing yourself further from that monstrous man as the time spent away from that film grows longer. Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you that you can (and quite possibly have been) the villain. This is especially true for those of you who are shocked to believe it could ever be you.
I’m sure any white person reading this is especially distraught right now. Accountability is a foreign topic for white people. History has painted you guys as the protagonist for centuries and you are just becoming hip to fact that you were painted as such because your grand-daddy wrote you that way.
When I think about this I think specifically about “Karens”. Especially Central Park Amy. She was a liberal. An NYC woman. So far, in her mind, she was doing great. I could imagine she went into that park that day, dog by her side, lululemon on the legs, thinking that her life was something akin to Sex and the City or Friends. NYC is her town and she can do no wrong. Her dog was running free because Central Park was her park. Her landscape of endless possibilities. She could do no wrong.
But then a black man entered her scene and told her that she could and was doing wrong. He was not supposed to be there, and if present he was not supposed to be talking. He was certainly not supposed to negatively commenting her narrative. So she swiftly called the only people who could put her story back in place. The police. This is her world. She can not do wrong. This is precisely how the villain is born. Lack of accountability. Failure to live in a truth besides your own.
So think back on your life. When was a time you were convinced that you were the protagonist and everyone else was the villain. To practice what I preach, I will share my own story. I am an extreme procrastinator. I mean extreme. I hate work. I don’t aspire to labor. Work makes me anxious. It makes my back hurt. It makes me feel claustrophobic. I feel depressed when I am attuned to the fact that I am “working”.
As you know by now, I have major qualms with the arts conservatory system, and they are still very true, but I have to admit that I played a role in my own and my classmates’ hindrances. I couldn’t accept that I was a detriment. It’s a devastating realization to come to. Coming into college I told myself that the last thing I was going to do was be an actor who wasn’t prepared. Due to this, I completely denied my breakdown.
Acting, unfortunately, see’s many artist fall victim to mental health pitfalls, and, before mine, I used to preach that if your going through a mental health crisis the best thing you can do is step away from the work. Then sophomore year I went through a mental health crisis and I did not step away. I loved the work too much and had dedicated my life to it. To step away felt like giving up. It felt like setting myself up for failure.
So I convinced myself that as long as I told people I was going through a crisis, and they knew I was working on it, then I could continue my work. What I ended up doing was trying to balance recovery and working, half-assing the work, and then expecting my colleagues to make accommodations for me. I was the villain. You could understand me, but I was the villain.
It’s not until your left to your own devices that you realize it was you. The blessing of coming to this painful conclusion is once you can accept it, you can make the proper steps to becoming a better you. I have a deeper understanding of who I am. I know when it’s time to fight and when it’s time to heal. I’m no longer faking it until I make it. I am, as a quote I came across recently on Pinterest which fashioned in the style of something your mom would share on Facebook, facing it until I make it.
Accountability is not easy, but it is necessary. You’ll have to reroute your whole system. You will feel bad, but feeling bad is not always a bad thing. In this life we have choices. Either choose evolution or become the villain.