Who Will Play Dahmer?
Was watching bits and pieces of VH-1's latest exercise in nostalgia, 100 Greatest Kid Stars, last week and was reminded of a pet peeve of mine by former child star Lisa Welchel. Welchel, of course, played Blair on The Facts of Life, and in the "where are they now" portion of her segment, she very strongly discussed her Christian faith, and how that faith would compel her to veto certain storylines Facts of Life producers would bring to her for Blair, storylines in which Blair would act in "less-than-Christian" ways. I remember seeing something similar about Kirk Cameron on a Growing Pains special a few years back--that he would nix storylines for Mike Seaver that he thought "inappropriate."
I hate this. Now, I do happen to be an atheist, but I'm not merely reacting against faith in a knee-jerk negative way. I don't think less of either Cameron or Welchel for having strong faith. My wife is a very faithful person, and I love her more than I do anyone else on the planet. So this is not simply a matter of a non-believer mocking those dumb believers. However, I do think less of actors like Welchel and Cameron for being poor actors.
See, they were playing characters, and if the writers had wanted Mike Seaver to get to third base, that didn't mean that Cameron the person had to condone the activity. If Blair was going to go "all the way" with a guy, that doesn't mean Welchel approved. But for some reason these actors seem unable to make that distinction--to realize that they are playing characters, characters who in many ways may have different moral outlooks than they do. The mindset, frankly, baffles me--that an actor can't portray a character making choices he or she disagrees with. If you commit to acting, to playing a part, than you should also be committing to playing that person--not some idealized version of yourself. And if you are concerned about sending the wrong message to viewers than, quite simply, you are in the wrong business. After all, actors just play parts. If an actor is more concerned with sending messages, moral or otherwise, than they should get into writing, or producing. Not acting.