Performance Artist

He screamed at the coaches. He fumed at the referees. He screamed at the players, calling them cocksuckers and motherfuckers. He fitted at the analysists, labeling them stupid sons-of-bitches. He screamed at the coaches and players and referees in all the different games on all the different TVs. He fumed at golfers and college linebackers. He screamed at guards and forwards. And it was all a fucking sham.

While he screamed and fussed and fumed, the rest of us ignored him. It must have felt like failure to give that sorta performance – one that should have elicited from us the attention he needed – but it didn’t play. It probably felt bad, so he kept shoveling out more, giving us encores of belligerence that nobody wanted.

Most of what he was bitching and babbling about was trifling. He seemed to know enough about all those sports to be able to bitch, but probably never enough to either play or coach or comment with any legitimacy. It was all an act. A show. Nobody could care that much about such trifling shit in every game. There was no way all those games going on from from coast to coast, from colleges and players renowned to obscure, meant that much to him. He was simply working himself into a frenzy so he could feel something. Anything. He wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t even financially invested. He was just obnoxious and woefully lost. Lost and scared with all that bluster and belligerence giving the appearance to us and to himself of someone knowledgeable, brave and certain.

He gave us a moment of silence. I thought maybe he’d worn himself out. I looked over. He’d turned to his phone. From sports he switched to politics, criticizing politicians and commenters and their opinions with the same voracity as the sports. He went back and forth with his whining and bitching between the sports on TV and whatever was on his phone that was arousing him too.

I wrote him off as one of those vacant guys that needed to feel passion, emoting and pantomiming it in some melodrama that gave a resemblance, at least, of it being real. Fake it until you make it. All that shit. I fancied him as one of those guys who feels passionately about all the people he works with – all the ideas, actions and opinions of other people – anything and anything he could wrap his feeble mind around he had to have passionate opinions and emotions about. So passionate he couldn’t keep them undercover. So passionate he couldn’t keep them to himself. Too passionate about a muffed call or play to keep from exploding. He was the utmost ranter. He was the ultimate raver about nothing.

He spoke with authority and certainty. He was angry. So angry that it told everybody else it wasn’t worth challenging him – since challenge would be an attack. So don’t attack lest you tempt his retaliatory wrath. We just wanted to drink and smoke and watch some sports. It made him feel powerful, not idiotic, to get so heated over such trivial shit, yet remain unchallenged. It reassured him of the certainty of his convictions that they were never called out for offense like the teams and players on the TVs.

When I came in, I assumed he was just another beer drinking redneck like the rest of us. I figured he was probably the guy with the jacked-up Jeep outside with the American flag strapped to the bumper. But it turns out he was more than a redneck. He was a performance artist too. A performance artist. A method actor, acting out that he had any real passions or convictions. But his pretentious and preposterous overacting blew his whole goddamned act. Pretending with an authoritative voice and mannerisms and gesticulations that he was a patriot and some sorta impassioned expert – the method acting of a fickle patriot versus whatever the real deal may be with patriotism. Embarrassingly and amateurishly overacting his goddamned character worse than William Shatner or Tommy Wiseau, with the horrendous and nauseating theatrics of all those political talking head motherfuckers who pretend to be flustered and outraged over whatever they can stretch into the latest controversy.

To this guy’s credit, it’s not just him. It’s him and many more. It’s how we’re taught to be performance artists and method actors as the lambs or sheep of some messiah. The method actors of some professed morality. The method actors within the systems of beliefs and ideals that define our characters. Us, always some character. Always some method actor within the play of some silly ideology or another. Us, always handed some role as obedient child or obedient disciple, as righteous, upstanding citizen, as patriot, as salt-of-the-earth, as…….whatever. Us, always actors hiding out inside roles that are never us.

We are method actors and performance artists. We are the only creatures that naturally produce art. And maybe that’s why, with our self-awareness and capacity for conceptual and abstract thinking, we are the only creatures that need and produce all that bullshit too. We are mostly bad faith actors in hack performances of our false consciousness. We are method actors not even knowing what the fuck the characters we attempt to portray really are. We are onstage as King Lear performed through a twelfth-hand account of who King Lear really was, beginning with the accounts from the hearsay of peasants.

I, too, am a performance artist. I am a method actor in a role. That way, I am something. I am either hero or villain, or, at least, a supporting character for one or the other. This role, this character, this function – they give me meaning. They give me purpose. They give me passion, though the story containing my character may be one of utter fiction.

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