Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Are you taping this?

Gordon Brown, the English Prime Minister and current candidate for Labour in the forthcoming election had a really unfortunate microphone mishap - some might say meltdown - today... he forgot he was wearing his microphone and a private conversation was recorded by the media as his car drove away, in which he called a pensioner he had just spoken to "a bigoted woman". He also described his encounter (masterminded by a certain "Sue" - one of his campaign advisors) with the pensioner as "a total disaster" and that was BEFORE the recording was made public.

This is of course a rather hilarious case of Schadenfreude... but also a very publicly mortifying incident for a man who is a not a natural when it comes to social interactions. Unusually for a politician, he's just not very good with people. (He was never elected but took over after Tony Blair his predecessor resigned).His advisors were trying to make him "more human" by showing him interacting with the public. His advisors should have kept on top of the microphone...

The thing is,  most actors can relate to this. When you're on set, you're often miked up for the whole day. And theses little buggers are so light and unintrusive - it's very easy to forget that you're wearing one. The first thing you are taught at Drama School about shoots is REMEMBER YOUR MICROPHONE. As in: make sure it's turned off before you go to the loo... or make sure it's turned off before you bad mouth the director, or the DOP (that's the person in charge of the camera... they can make your performance look fantastic or really crap...) or your fellow cast members. Even then, incidents still happen. Everyone gets to hear your bowel movement or your hilarious impression of the director or your true feelings about the rest of the cast and the production as a whole.

The other thing that actors know but don't always put in practice is to play their action - not their obstacle. In other words, identify your objective and stay positive in your attempts to reach that objective (playing your action) rather than seeing things in a negative light (the obstacle). Gordon should have been playing his action: "that went rather well, I think I'm getting used to this meeting real people, I don't like it very much but I'm really getting better at it" rather than his obstacle "that was a complete disaster." and the ensuing lashing out to make himself feel better "she was a bigoted woman".

The sad irony is that by all accounts, his encounter with Gillian Duffy (the afore mentioned pensioner) had gone swimmingly well and should have been a really positive story for the evening news. Instead, we have been regaled with pictures of Gordon with his head in his hands looking mortified, and with the knowledge that he spent over half an hour back at Mrs Duffy's house apologising to her and the press dubbing this "Bigotgate" ahead of tomorrow's final primeministerial debate on the BBC alongside his Liberal Democrat and Conservative rivals who are counting their blessings.

Let's give Mrs Duffy the last word.... "I won't be voting for Labour".

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