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Old 10-30-2018, 11:44 PM   #1
Ludlum'sDaughter14
Philosopher ain't no job
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Southern U.S.
Posts: 1,086
Blog Entries: 37
Default Face, Unrealistic Expectations, and Life (...that should just about cover it)

I'm still debating whether it's wise to write, much less post, this thread, but by the Lords of Kobol, what do I have to lose? These are just my thoughts on a topic that's been doing cartwheels in my brain, so please take them as such - no more, no less.

As I've recently taken to rewatching a few A-Team episodes and starting a new A-Team fanfic (after a long hiatus), I've been thinking about my previous experience with the show... especially the entity ominously known as The Crush. You know what I'm talking about - that's what initially brought 90% of us here, right? - so don't try to claim plausible deniability.

He's called Faceman for a reason: he is unbelievably good-looking. And well-dressed. And dapper. And charming. In the course of one episode, enough witticisms escape his lips to make the Bard himself jealous. (This may be a slight exaggeration, which is another of his many talents.)

BUT... (let us pause here for dramatic effect)

As I have been watching episodes again, and going through my Pinterest collection of A-Team stuff again, and hearkening back to when I first saw the show, I've had a sort of dual-consciousness experience. On the one hand, I can remember the feelings I felt, the excitement of my A-Team obsession, the rollercoaster of my Worst Crush Ever (or possibly Best, if we're evaluating the quality and not the intensity of the experience).

But although I'm reliving the memory of feelings I had then, I'm not actually experiencing all the feelings themselves. This is because a few years of compressed hardship have made me a very different person on many levels. And it's given me some objectivity to assess why exactly I felt what I did, and especially why, though some of those affinities for the character of Face, the face of Dirk Benedict, etc. etc. can be called up in small moments, they never last for me anymore.

I think it's because I've become aware that the person I was crushing on was not, in fact, real.

In fact, I think the secret behind the nearly-universal appeal of the Faceman (except to those Murdock girls with a different definition of fun) is the fact that Face is so very Not Real.

Allow me to explain.

Face is what many of us ladies see as The Perfect Guy (my, I've suddenly become really fond of capitalizing words since I started this post. It will pass.) Refer back to my earlier description for details. I don't wish to reiterate every single facet of The Crush as we know it, but I will say that on top of having Dirk Benedict's natural attractiveness plus great outfits and a great haircut, Face is suave, debonaire, dramatic, heroic, funny, and just vulnerable enough to periodically incite a girl's nurturing instinct (and lots and lots and lots and lots of fanfiction...). He's cute, smart, funny, and athletic. We're not talking triple threat - we're talking quadruple knockout punch. Or whatever.

The problem is, Templeton Peck was made for TV. His flaws are all funny and easily forgivable, especially when he's separated from viewers like us by a TV screen and now a couple decades. I used to get annoyed that people in my life couldn't talk as fast and be as funny as he was. I was a little disappointed that I was rarely as funny as he was. Then one day, the realization came to me: every single thing that Face says or does is scripted. Every one. Except for the occasions when Dirk ad-libbed something, and even then, his goal was to stay in character. The reason Face can come off as such a fount of lyrical perfection (I'm not even sure that's the right expression, but you get my drift) is because a team of (usually) smart and (usually) funny writers got together and wrote out all his lines for him beforehand. It wasn't real!

So, honestly, it's really understandable that Face is so, er, well-loved by those of us in the female population. He's the Ken doll to the perfect Barbie we half-wish we could be. He's the Instagram account of the person whose life looks fantastic, because they only post about the good, and the beautiful, and the perfect makeup and the happy kids. But the Ken doll is not real, and neither is the life represented only in filtered Instagram posts. Life is messy and hard, and relationships take work that involves both people changing and growing in painful ways if they want to stick it out. That's the one thing Face was absolutely not good at, and why in real life, any relationship with him would be doomed to disappointment.

This is one of the reasons why I'm so glad I found this fan site and had the chance to explore the further works and real-life thoughts of Dirk Benedict. Because, I confess, for a while I thought he was essentially like the character he played - perfect, and shallow, and fastidious about suits and ties. But in real life, he's much cooler than that. He's got a lot going on in his mind and his life, he's a well-rounded person, and he hasn't had it all together at every single moment of his life, which he also owns up to - because he, like the rest of us, is a real person.

I was recently part of a group discussion at a seminar and one person pointed out that we enjoy reading biographies of famous and successful people because we get insight into their low moments, mistakes, and failures, the times when they felt nervous or lonely, and we feel immensely reassured, because these people who are thought so highly of and who often went on to do great things had the same problems we do. They weren't always well-dressed and successful, and they didn't always have the right thing to say or make the best impression on those around them. And they still made it okay. If they could succeed, maybe I can too.

I think the danger of believing too much in the fictional Facemen we run across is that we miss out on the beauty of a real existence. We expect perfection, so we're disappointed when we don't find it in other people and crushed when we see what a hopeless cause it is to look for it in ourselves. We are naturally tuned to seek beauty and symmetry and A+, but we're never going to find it all in people, including ourselves - not here, not yet. Loving someone is not the same as a crush, because when we crush on someone, all we see is how perfect they are and how much we want to forever take part in that perfection. As soon as the honeymoon period is over, we wake up and realize our romantic partner, our friends, our family, all have a seemingly endless capacity to frustrate us with how flawed they are. That's why loving someone isn't dependent on their being flawless. Loving someone is choosing to stick with them despite their flaws, and even to accept those flaws as a part of who that person is, and to accept all of that person, knowing it won't be easy, but it will be worth it.

I like that Dirk has been very candid about some of what he's struggled with, especially in his writings, because it gives hope to the rest of us. If the man behind the face (or the Face) isn't perfect, why should we expect ourselves to be? And if he's been able to progress through his own life by working hard and making mistakes and learning, why shouldn't we be able to find our own brand of "success" in whatever form through a similarly non-linear approach?

I started this post with a vague idea and ended with a rant on perfectionism - a theme I can't stop coming back to beat, because I'm not convinced the horse is truly dead (wow, that sounded a lot more morbid than expected). I don't know if there's a direction in this stream-of-consciousness mess, but I personally started out in a funk and ended up a little more happy with life by the end. So I guess this is an impromptu pep talk? (shrug)

If you've managed to get all the way to the end, I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on anything so much as hinted at here. Or you can just tell me I should get more sleep. I probably won't disagree with you.
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"The tantalizing discomfort of perplexity is what inspires otherwise ordinary men and women to extraordinary feats of ingenuity and creativity; nothing quite focuses the mind like dissonant details awaiting harmonious resolution."
- Brian Greene
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