First there are the camera angles. Everything is taken from the neck up, limiting any possible interesting dialogue pieces with other characters. Suddenly our heroine will be sitting down a lot, behind a desk, or holding large folders for no reason at all. Sometimes they’ll put a bloody great vase of flowers in the way. Clothing will become oversized, which never hides the bump just merely shouts “Look, the actress, the real person, is up the duff! Fuck trophy alert!”
Is she or isn’t she? This has become an all-consuming pastime for me that ruins many a good film or TV series. Believe me, I am not a rabid consumer of Heat magazine, desperate for information on celebrity breeders. It’s that when a director attempts to hide that an actress is clearly pregnant, the subterfuge is so obvious it ruins every single thing I watch. It’s so fucking obvious!
The fourth wall is broken and I sit on my hands, desperate not to bow to the inevitable and search Google to see if I have correctly spotted the pregnancy. The satisfaction that I’ve spotted the truth is nothing compared to the complete ruination of the story I am watching. Every shot, I sit there pointing out when I see it – there. There. Can’t everyone see it? It’s there, look. So what if someone just died horribly, I can see that woman is clearly pregnant.
The point of an actor is to dispel belief. Once my eyes alight on a possible bump, everything is ruined. I stomp about like a disgruntled Kevin, lamenting the blatant destruction of any dramatic tension. Clearly that isn’t Johanssen kicking ass, it’s a stunt double. How can Nikki Alexander carry on her will they-wont they with Harry if she is hiding the fact she is ferrying an embryo that isn’t his? It just isn’t right. I don’t want to see your real life. I want immersion! Pop the brat out between series, don’t flaunt it at me during the limited opportunities I have to watch good drama.
I ponder whether they should write it in, just to stop my own anger. Sadly this leads to the jumping the shark moment that killed The X-Files. Anyone remember how terrible it was to discover Scully’s baby was Mulder’s? Just me? It might work for soaps, but I hate any baby storylines. It kills anything of interest happening in the future, as you are always left (literally) with the baby. Think about Ian Beale, just think. My point is made.
This obsession with directors’ attempts to hide reality has recently reached new territory with the Expendables trilogy. Every scene where Arnie or Sly jump off a building, or roll away from an explosion, I wonder how they manage it. Of course, they don’t. Younger stunt doubles come in, concrete floors are made of soft eiderdown, beer guts are hidden by lofty camera angles and giant clothes. Argh! Why? They are old, that is the entire concept of the film. Sure they have egos, but let it all hang out. You’re too old for this shit!
I have no issues with people getting older. I myself cannot hold back the tide of aches and pains; my ability to bounce after falling over has all but disappeared. I don’t expect anyone to pay to see an old me defuse a bomb whilst jumping through the air but if it was my career I’d at least show that it bloody well hurt at my age.
But if you decide to drop another unfortunate child into this world of war, then don’t bring it into my living room. Wait until the series is cancelled, plan it so it isn’t noticeable, don’t cry feminism at work and demand it is ignored. I can see it. There. Look, it’s a bump. Have some pride in your art and the deception you weave for us. I have no interest in you, or the baby – I want my stories!