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When bad men act like bad boys

12 2 3
11.01.2019

The Nantucket courtroom in which Kevin Spacey was arraigned was a real courtroom, not a Hollywood set: instead of a dramatic mahogany judge's bench, it had a plastic laminate desk. Instead of a coiffed character in costume, it had a 59-year-old man - puffy and pasty without the benefit of a makeup department - who responded to his given name of Kevin Fowler as he pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a busboy in 2016.

The job of a performer, of course, is to perform. To create a persona in which the audience invests itself. One, for example, like Spacey's Frank Underwood from House of Cards - an oozy reptile whom viewers nevertheless root for. Not because they like him, but because they want to see how he'll slither out of his latest jam.

Recently, it's seemed as if Spacey wanted us to conflate him with his most famous character. On Christmas Eve he posted a bizarre video, titled "Let Me Be Frank," in which he implored the viewer in Underwood's molasses accent, "I showed you exactly what people are capable of ... I challenged you and made you think." Was Spacey referring to the assault allegations against him, the actor? To his murderous on-screen alter ego, Frank? The answer seemed to be, both. It was the opposite of a celebrity asking us to separate the art from the artist. He was begging us to accept the two as symbiotic.

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