Double Standards

double standards 2

Natalie Portman or Sarah Lane?

It’s all about perception, so they say.

We installed French windows in the downstairs lounge below our bedroom.  But each morning, since early April, we have been awoken by loud tapping noises. What was it? The cat demanding that we should feed him now that the sun had risen. Someone throwing stones at our windows? Or was I hearing things? The repeated tapping annoyed and disturbed me and, worse, my wife. I couldn’t ignore it. Reluctantly, for now in retirement I am never one to rise early, I knew I had to find out the reason and that would involve getting up. At first, I was confused and could not understand what was happening. I got up and put on my dressing gown in a semi-comatose state without a clear or definite idea of how to solve the problem. I had a vague idea that somehow I must stop that damn noise. No sooner had I opened the door to the lounge than the explanation was clear. It was a case of double standards.

A territorial crow was repeatedly attacking an image of himself in the clear, and fortunately strengthened, glass of the French windows.

In ‘The Vanishing Game: An Adventure…’ the thirty-five-year-old Alec Dunbar is called to a B-movie shoot on the basis he was a twenty three-year-old woman called Alexa Dunbar -not quite his double but occasionally mistaken for him. This seemingly innocent confusion of Alec for Alexa in William Boyd’s hands turns into a tale of intrigue and loss and double trouble for Alec Dunbar.

Yet in films, some doubles may even outperform the original. James Bond potrayed by a galaxy of luminary actors from Sean Connery to Danniel Craig may be suddenly catapulted from a car in an explosion only to land acrobatically and safely. Or in an uneven fight against three, or more, men at once, and despite being almost knocked out by opponents twice his size, his fists respond with the ultimate knock out blow. His double lives in those frenzied moments. His double is ephemeral, receiving a blow to the head before landing the satisfying knock out punch. Here image is not as important as agility and in the fury of the moment we do not see the the double only the star. It’s all about perception.

Unlike the crow who attacks again and again, tap, tap, tapping the window fearlessly, these double standards are inferior copies of the handsome hero. But it is not always so.

Senator Edward Kennedy’s double sat his Spanish exams for him at Harvard with beneficial results far in excess of what might have been expected from a man who subsequently confused two years for four when he enlisted in the American army. However, a postscript should add he was ultimately expelled. No double bonus for him.

But it was different in the 2010 film, Black Swan. The American psychological thriller film starred Natalie Portman. She won the Oscar for Best Actress, as a ballet dancer – the black swan. Rumour suggested she was not the dancer. Controversy arose over how much dancing she actually performed and how much her double, Sarah Lane, did. Some people asked why a video clip from the film – showing that Lane’s face was replaced by Portman’s – was removed from the Internet prior to the Oscars. Of course, the studio issued denials – ‘There are 139 dance shots in the film. 111 are Natalie Portman untouched. 28 are her dance double Sarah Lane. If you do the math that’s 80 percent Natalie Portman.’

It seems double standards may be fractions of the real thing and can even be better than the real thing.

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