We are shooting in a gorgeous setting by a lake in Gravenhurst, Ontario. As we shot yesterday in our beautiful lace gowns and tailored wool suits, I felt transported. We looked like we were right out of a Renoir painting. I glanced around at the various activities the actors and background artists were partaking of. Knitting and crocheting, Blind Man’s buff, swimming, tag, or just meditating on the beautiful surroundings.
My mind instantly went to a scenario from the other night at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). My husband and I went to a screening of Adrian Grenier’s film Teenage Paparazzo and we sat through the film surrounded by people texting, taking photos, talking full voice throughout, while snapping their heads around every five seconds to see “who else is here?” It became even more frustrating when Mr. Grenier got up to take part in a question and answer period. He took it very seriously and answered every question with respect and a good deal of thought. We marveled at the din around us as people declared loudly their love and adoration for him. Some of them were live chats and others were on the phone stating in booming voice things like, “he is so gorgeous ... yeah, he’s right here in front of me ... yeah he’s talking ... answering questions ... no, I haven’t seen the other guys yet, but Mark Walberg is here too ... oh hang on, people are applauding something he just said, I can’t hear you ... yeah, it is soooooooooo cool ... I’m going to try and meet him at the party after this.” My first thought was, “yeah, good luck with that, ladies!” and my second thought was, “Really? You love him, do you? Because you clearly do not RESPECT him. You have not shut your great gaping pie holes the entire time he has been talking.”
I looked around and only one out of five people was even trying to listen. The serious people had moved up to the front. When the talk was done and Adrian shouted out, “Let’s party!” I said to my husband, “Let’s go for a bite and go home.” He happily and gratefully agreed, which is saying something since my husband loves nothing more than good free food. But we had had enough of the rudeness and did not want to further subject ourselves to the shoving and the texting and the pushing and the ruding. I know this makes me sound like an old fogey and I know that I am saying nothing new with this, but I will say it once more. We have become a society of boors. Rude boors. No class.
At the time of the event I thought about blogging about it, then stopped myself because I felt there was nothing new I could add. But when I stepped onto the set of Sunshine Sketches, my mind instantly travelled back to the real place in time that we are depicting, and the contrast between these two events was staggering to me. I spent the day looking around and thinking how sweet, how innocent, how intoxicating it all was. This time in my mind’s eye, I could hear the ghosts of a hundred years ago, “Glorious day today, Mrs. Dinton.” “Your flowers are exquisite, Mrs. Landry.” “I trust I am finding you today in good health, Mr. Aubrey?”
Despite my daydream back in time, I know there are inherent problems with every era, and I know it can be argued that they lived as simply as they did because they did not have any other option. And believe me, I am a big fan of technology. Love it. Find it miraculous. But I couldn’t help but pine for what they had. The lack of technology offered them the opportunity to sing and socialize and indulge in focused conversation. It’s why the children played in the sun, climbed trees, made swords out of sticks and tied love notes up with hair ribbons. I know the whys of it. But still.
I love the time I live in, but as I sat on that set, oh how I yearned taking just a moment’s rest in that world. I imagined myself popping into this picnic, on this day in time. The film is as close as I will come to that. But it is good enough for a few days to erase the memory of the boors. This month I am a gentlewoman and it is sweet.
Barbara: Oh, Deb, you paint a divine picture. I can smell the grass, feel the sun, hear the quiet thrum of time slowing down and gentling, people communing with one another without cell phones in their hands and twenty social/work obligations queuing up in cyberspace behind them.
I have to tell you about the bistro lunch I had the other day with Phil. We’re sitting beside a table of three young women in their mid-twenties. One of the women is describing her recent experience working in London, England with underprivileged kids; she’s talking about how amazing it was, how amazing the kids were, how much she learned, how cool it was to live in London for six months, how it was hard leaving her new and potentially serious boyfriend…. Okay, you get the gist: interesting enough to prompt me to ignore my charming husband and blatantly eavesdrop.
Thing is, it was like she was doing one of those one-women shows where the actress sits centre stage and looks into the middle distance while she gives an extended monologue. And why? Because her two lunch mates, her (apparent) friends who haven’t seen her lo these six months, spend the ENTIRE LUNCH TEXTING while inserting the requisite pseudo-rapt, “Uh-huh.” “Wow.” “So cool.” “Awesome.” I was this close to pushing my own lunch aside and leaning over so I could be the seriously engaged audience she so obviously deserved.
The only opinion I will add is the one you already mention: I do believe this boorish rudeness has always existed in big filthy cities throughout history; we’ve just changed costume and props. But the idyll you describe has to be kept sacred. We desperately need somewhere to escape to from time to time so we can remember––and re-engage with––our humanity.