Thursday, January 2, 2014

To Laugh at Keanu Reeves - By Jarys

     Last night (a few weeks ago by the time I'm publishing this), a personal hero of mine was ridiculed by a late night host and I'm not even mad. I don't care at all, in fact, I enjoyed seeing this person I looked up to taken down and poked out. It was good times and a lot of that had to do with the sense of pleasant good humor the subject of my respect held. He had a good time, we all had a good time. Do we all like to have our heroes torn down, or do I just really like to see someone take punches on the chin, smile and all?

     Perhaps I should back up and bring some clarity to the situation. Though I get disbelieving looks and dismissive protests about this, the truth is that I hold the actor Keanu Reeves in high regard. No wait, don't leave! I won't try to convince you, but I hope I can open my chest and at least make my good opinion seem reasonable. If not reasonable, than sympathetic.  It may help that I agree with the general assessment that Reeves is not some acting prodigy, that is not why I like him. But I argue he may have been, if the grapevine of the internet can be believed.

Better than his critics would think, apparently
 The first aspect of Reeves that won me over is that his life was horrifically interrupted. He had been acting on stage since he was at least  in his early teens, and at the time he was highly lauded. I read a review written by a stage critic who found Reeves' professional attempt at the role of Hamlet to be the third best he had ever seen (not the movie version from which the above picture is taken). Other articles I duh up suggested that the kid impressed people. Reeves tried to get into Hollywood and found a role on Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure (which was thoroughly sweet dude). But was it this airhead role of Wyld Stallion's Theodore Logan that set Reeves on the path toward people summarizing his acting by murmuring the word "Whoa" instead of pondering "words words words?"

     I won't go into much detail, because it is his story, not mine, but multiple sources have affirmed that Reeves experienced a string of horrible tragedies soon after entering Hollywood.  Reading about these misfortunes, knowing that Reeves would only keep going afterwards is the context for my admiration of him. After reading about this, I dropped all expectation for Reeves blow me away with his acting depth, emotional range, or variety, all skills for which he is criticized for lacking. I cannot say he does not have these skills, Hollywood had a way of typecasting those who succeed in particular types of roles (has anyone saved the world or humanity in the last twenty years as Reeves?). He does seem to have suffer a sort of emotional rigidness in interviews, but interviews are not the most emotionally welcoming settings. I basically gave this actor a pass in my consideration, if he wasn't a harlequin of energy and smiles I understood why. Dude had seen some shit.
 Which may have lead to this....or maybe that's one intense sandwich
    But experiencing the unthinkable is not enough to make me a fan of a person, I do not get dopamine from that kind of drama. Instead, it is Reeves' personality that won me over.  Reeves is reported to donate the majority of the millions he makes in his movies to the stunt people and crew of those movies. I found numerous tales of his kindness and friendliness. He eschews a millionaire lifestyle. Reeves is said to be mature, happy, supportive, and amicable. And after all that has happened in his life, this get my respect in a major way. He perseveres in kindness and that model gives me something to mull over when watching his (often horribly written) movies. Most of his movies I can enjoy in a popcorn chewing sense, and some of them, like the Matrix Trilogy and the movie rendition of Constantine I love and thought he did a more than efficient and quite enjoyable job in his portrayals.

I have said it before, only a Keanu can make a stare down with a cat look this interesting
 I quite understand his critics. When my friends speak of him like he's the derpiest derp who ever derped in Derpopolis I don't argue. I don't repeat theories that he is high functioning Autistic or emotionally stunted. Such excuses insult people on the spectrum by tying them to perceived incompetence. Keanu Reeves doesn't seem to lose sleep over his image and why should I? I enjoy him without having to validate that enjoyment.

Seen here being mocked, and loving it.

     When Keanu Reeves came on the Colbert Report recently, to promote his new film, "47 Ronin", he was both soft and simple spoken. When promoted, he would not say much, but was cheery throughout. Such a demeanor does not make for a good interview and Colbert called him out for this through teasing and mimicry. Eventually the host flat out challenged Keanu Reeves to show his acting chops by showing various emotions. Reeves went along with it all with a smile and a twinkle. Ge may have known his behavior was unusual, he may have known he was being made the butt of the joke. He seemed to enjoy himself, took it all without protest, and I was similarly entertained.

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