10/8/07

Fallen

I am still feeling strangely wired, as if I'd had too much caffeine, despite my relative lack of sleep in the past 72 hours. Twice this weekend I discovered well after midnight that I had forgotten to eat anything for dinner, engrossed as I had been in my Jake activities. This is not healthy, and I'm the first to admit it. I am coming apart.

But it's not new, either. I've done it before, will do it again, no doubt. So while it's mortifying and pathetic, I recognize that it is also completely self-indulgent. I wanted to be lost in him, on whatever level, so I let it happen. Now I just have to see if I can make a go of the rest of my waking life while I try to crawl back to the surface for air.

Anyway, the good news in all this is that I did successfully get video out of my DVR, so Rendition Week will be available to those who need it from me. Not that I'm your only source, but a promise is a promise.

I don't feel comfortable talking about what caused my strung-out weekend Jake-bender, but I feel like it would be dishonest to withhold it, too. So much has swirled through my mind, I know it will continue to affect me for quite some time, possibly until the day I forget Jake Gyllenhaal (it will happen, if I live long enough, experience tells me).

Jake Gyllenhaal: everything I want but can never havePerhaps the most amazing thing is that, as if on cue, Jake has provided a strangely relevant quote to the media as part of his current Rendition promotion. Some Kentucky newspaper quotes him telling Fox News, "I don't hold it against people for wanting to know about our personal lives and reading all those magazines and what not."

Our world is in a very bad place at the moment, so I think it is only appropriate that people look to other things and have an interest in all the drama and happenings of celebrity lives, and I hope that at some point I can help the public sedate and escape what's really happening in the outside world.
Sedate is never a word I associate with my reactions to Jake, but I know he's talking about escapism, and of course that's something I can relate to, as my presence here makes obvious. The quote is probably from this interview, where Jake is asked again about extraordinary rendition, and also about working with actors and others from the varying nations that made up the cast and crew of that film.

His disarmingly benevolent attitude toward the public fascination with celebrity, and celebrity gossip, was neither predictable nor revelatory, though it was characteristic of his philosophical nature. Unfortunately, it also has triggered my protective instincts; I fear that every sleazy creep in the world will consider it an approbation, even an invitation to further probe, invade, stalk. I hope that beefy bald guy Jake tows around has at least one equally intimidating coworker. He's too fucking nice, and I'm so afraid for his safety and his privacy that I'm feeling invasive.

Babble, blather, I tend to run on when I have something on my mind that I don't necessarily feel good revealing. True confession time has come, and while most of the (30 or so) people who will ever read this may shrug or even laugh at the drama of my words, I think one or two will grok this.

I've made no secret of my opinion about fan fiction, and my own ambivalence when against my better judgment I found myself authoring some. Even less appealing than fanfic to me was the morally questionable subset known as RPS. I know in my rational mind that anyone reading these stories is aware it's fantasy, but the use of real people as characters seems abusive somehow.

How then do I explain my random decision last Friday, while bored out of my skull here at work, to seek out and indulge in the one thing I told myself I never would, the most salacious and egregious of fan manifestations? I don't. I can't. I've once again proved myself the queen of irony, my contradictions alive and well. I can tell you that I both regret it, and don't. I read the story that over the past year several friends had recommended to me, despite my protests, as the best. I read it, and I re-read it, and then I went and I found a sequel, and I read that, too. Then, hating myself already, depressed, and completely consumed, instead of moving on to find some distraction, I went and read another.

What the hell happened?

I can tell you it had nothing to do with the plots, which were fantastical, presumptive, and unoriginal--no offense to those authors, I don't mean their writing was bad. It was excellent, or I wouldn't be in this mess. Just that the tale they spun was not one in which I had any emotional investment. So why did I keep reading? And why do I feel raw?

In one word, Jake.

The growing realization that someone else's mental Jake was so completely identical to my own, so vivid, every conversation and action (apart from the plotline) ringing true despite the very fact that this was fiction, knocked all the wind out of me. Not just my Jake, anymore. This was evidence that the myth in my head is a bit more than that. I have spent hours digesting and analyzing this discovery. I can discuss the logical aspects, that we have all formed our image of him from the same sources, all that is publicly available, that I already knew this in large part from my interaction with the fandom. For whatever reason, that has not mitigated the impact of this weekend's reading. Holy shit, I tell myself, is it possible? Can anyone be this...everything that he is? The first author's Jake was funny, a tad immature at times, intelligent, but most of all, direct, and warm. I couldn't get enough. Later, as I tried to recover, I decided to read the comments on her journal by her readers, wanting to see how many other people had been sucker-punched by her Jake. I was perplexed to see only one or two comments that even remotely suggested the impact I had felt. What I did find, though, was her own revelation of her favorite story as a reader, and I'll be goddamned if I didn't go off immediately to find that one, too. Pathetic.

Both the first story and the last one shared a common point of view that certainly contributed to my vulnerability here; namely, that of the other person, the one completely enamored with Jake and feeling hopeless about it. This too was devastatingly authentic; perhaps my reaction is based in insane jealousy, the knowledge that someone else--no, fuck it, almost everyone else--has this longing, here translated into a story where it is embodied in another who would actually have access to Jake. The descriptions of that person's perceptions and responses to him, words I could have written or spoken, given the opportunity.

That's it, but that's enough. It makes no sense, that any of these things should be as an epiphany to me, but making sense is often overrated. I know these were stories, written by someone who no more knows the real Jake than I do. But he was so much my Jake, addictive, I could not stop. What have I done?

Before anyone asks, no, I do not plan to continue reading RPS, or fanfic. I remember having said that there would be no going back, and I do fear its draw, but this has got to stop. I lost an entire weekend, minus a few family hours (in which Jake was with me all the way), to indulgence, and I can't maintain my basic functions this way. It's unhealthy, it's disgusting, it's ridiculous, but most of all, it's too easy.

Fortunately, we shall have more real Jake in the immediate future, which I think will go a long way to bringing me back to health. Watching him be all those things I know he is, witty, charming, thoughtful--it's going to hurt in the way it always does, but it will be real, and if nothing else, I may feel cleansed.


Photo: IHJ.

12 comments

Wet Dark and Wild said...

Cherita - I know what it's like on the tightrope. I hope you're OK. If ever you want to talk... with love

BirdGirl said...

Fan Fic is one place I haven't ventured. I know I couldn't handle that stuff. I am already unstable as is. I have my Jake in my head and if I let him out I think that I would end up institutionalized. I am also looking forward to seeing “real Jake”. The little bit that we get to see is so satisfying.

I also hope your okay sweetie. You know you always have people here to listen to you. I just wanna give you a big hug. :)

Cherita said...

Thanks for the support, both of you. I will survive, as Gloria Gaynor would say. ;) I also don't want anyone who might enjoy fanfic or RPS to think I'm trying to judge them, because I'm not, really. I mean, I do have concerns about it, but I'm clearly as susceptible as the next person. My problem is, pretty much as you said, BG, in my handling of it. I knew this was likely, and yet I did this to myself, for whatever unfathomable purpose. Good news is, I have Proof on cable now, and it will be followed by BBM, so I'm immersing myself in something real: Jake's talent and beauty. Feels good.

BirdGirl said...

Sounds like a perfect evening to me. Hal and Jack! It doesn't get any better then that. :)

Xenia said...

First of all I’m really sorry you’re feeling so upset and I hope you’ll recover soon because Jake and us all your faithful readers need you in great shape for the Jake Week that’s coming…I place my highest hopes in your DVR/PC powers…thank you for keeping your promise. :)

You already know I usually read fanfics and RPS, so…And I know that you’re not judging anyone but telling how that stuff affected you…I totally understand that…
But learning that what calmed me when I was under attack of my desperate longing (no, it’s not healthy at all, but hey as you said I wanted this) brought you so close to a breakdown pushes me at least to analyze it somehow…
It makes me at least ask to myself : is there something wrong in what I’m doing, some sort of underestimating it?

I think that while there’s nothing strange nor really new about BBM fanfics, renewing a theme by rewriting it is something that has many examples along the literatures of any countries and ages…RPS are controversial and morally ambiguous instead. And addictive.

And I’m sorry I’m talking about myself again but this is how my instincts tend to react when something regarding another human being touches me so deeply.
I think I know with a good approximation, which is the RPS you came to read, and your reaction towards the character helplessly enamored with Jake is the same (I guess) as mine, of complete identification, but on the contrary this was a blessing to me because that saved me from the constant knowledge I was NOT him.
And learning that someone else’s feelings were so close to mine made my feelings, I dunno, truer, and encouraged me so much that I could say : these feelings are possible, I’m not crazy, I’m not weird, I’m not alone.
Maybe it doesn’t make any sense and yes doesn’t have to.

BTW keeping on reading fanfics brought me to the same point of no return, now I seldom read them (but I'm still keeping an eye on the two fics you read honestly) partly because I’m tired and worn, and then because reading RPS doesn’t make it (I mean Jake’s absence) any easy.

I’m sorry for this REALLY long post. Have mercy.:)

Cherita said...

Hal and Jack! It doesn't get any better then that.

Better would be if I were watching them while sitting next to Jake. No, reclining next to Jake on my bed. Yeah. But it was very, very helpful. Thanks, BirdGirl.

I’m sorry for this REALLY long post.

First of all, don't EVER apologize for a comment! Damn it! :)

I am feeling better already, and I promise I will be on top of my game for the festivities. I wasn't kidding about requesting the day off on 10/16, and I got it. ;)

I’m sorry I’m talking about myself again

Grrr! Stop apologizing! And what do you think I'm doing here? This blog isn't about Jake--it's about my experiences surrounding Jake. Yours, too.

learning that someone else’s feelings were so close to mine made my feelings, I dunno, truer, and encouraged me so much that I could say : these feelings are possible, I’m not crazy, I’m not weird, I’m not alone

You're so right, and that's where I'm trying to live right now. I suspect you do know exactly the ones I'm talking about, but we won't discuss them. And I knew you would understand. :D I'm just trying to get on with all the new business of the day. I swear, I wish I could make Jake my full-time job. As a hobby, he's really throwing my schedule off.

ncwoman said...

Oh my sweet Cherita. So many things are going through my mind, but what stands out most are 2 things: 1)Although I would never presume to say that I know what you're going through, I do know that helpless feeling of knowing Jake will never be mine. And so I can relate to that type of pain. 2)I am here if you want to talk. You know how to reach me.

I also think I know which fanfic you're referring to, and if I'm right, it hit me between the eyes as well. I was obsessed for days, couldn't get the story out of my mind.

Oh and a couple of other things...I love you, and think October 25...October 25...October 25...

((((((HUGS))))))

Cherita said...

Charlene, I do believe you know how I feel. That poem I gave you before pretty much sums it up, I'd say. Sorry I haven't been online lately, but between school and, well, obsession, I've been very distracted. And yes, I am getting very psyched for October 25. I'm counting on you to remind me to put those spare undies in my purse before we go to the theater. Hmmm. Maybe two pair.

ncwoman said...

I'm counting on you to remind me to put those spare undies in my purse before we go to the theater. Hmmm. Maybe two pair.

LOL! By God, you're right!

*Note to self: Remind myself to remind Cherita to put spare undies in her purse before we go to theater...and while I'm at it, remind myself to remind myself*
:D

Prophecy Girl said...

I apologize in advance for the longest comment in the history of the internet.

Cherita, first of all, I want to applaud you for saying out loud what every single person in this fandom does, and that's using Jake for escape. That right there is some refreshing honesty! :) In my jaded experience, it really only becomes a problem when people don't fully realize that's what they're doing, and I don't think there's ever a chance of that happening with you. ;) I'm sorry you're having a rough time, though. I hope things are better. :(

As for fanfiction...I read your thoughts on it a while ago and I fully respect your way of thinking. I, personally, am addicted. I have read an embarrassing number of stories and have done so because BBM was so devastating to me that I find it very therapeutic to watch Jack and Ennis play out their story in different times and places with different outcomes. I also spend large quantities of time at work with nothing to do and would probably get fired if anyone found out what I was doing... ;)

As for RPS, I think it's so interesting that "your" Jake was reinforced by what you read. I resisted RPS for the longest time but soon found myself sucked in (usually because of a lack of Jack/Ennis stuff...did I mention I was addicted?). I'm part fascinated and part creeped out by what I read in the RPS world. It is fantasy (of course!) but it's also weirdly intrusive to rewrite the lives of real people without their knowledge, especially in a sexually explicit way (no matter how hot it is). If you can get past that, there are some great stories out there...but I don't know if I've ever fully gotten past that.

I have found, however, that there are certain universal similarities between Fanfic!Jake and Fanfic!Jack, the most obvious one being the physical appearance that the two share and its effect on other people. Invariably, in stories, Jake's (and by default Jack's) looks make him completely irresistible to everyone around him. I ALWAYS notice that, which is why I was glad you noticed it, too. :) It's true for the fanbase who would be reading this stuff, but I'm not so sure it would actually hold true for the general population...

But all that was to bring us to The Quote. Oh, the irony of Jake saying that! I read it earlier this week and it led to a several-e-mail discussion between brits and I along the lines of, "Did he really just say that?! And expect us to believe it?!" ;D

Jake is really, REALLY good at putting on his game face and playing his role as a celebrity. And maybe he even meant it at the very moment it came out of his mouth...but there was a glaring omission: he's fine with it as long as he isn't involved in it. He's not hypocritical, he's just really that disconnected with what it actually means to use a celebrity for escapism. I'm not talking about you here because even as you said in one of your comments above, this blog is about YOU and your experiences concerning Jake. You know where the line is and you're "using" Jake probably in exactly the way he was referring to. However, the VAST majority of the online fandom is pretty much out of control right now when it comes to using Jake as their escape.

I have NO IDEA who he is, and in that, I'm no different than anyone else out there. But my problem (and it really is a problem when it comes to relating to certain fan-oriented issues), is that I have totally lost my vision of what I WANT him to be. It's just not in me anymore. For better or worse (usually worse because I wind up offending people), that's not what being part of this is about for me now. "My" Jake left me a long time ago, and no one came to take his place.

I read people saying thing like, "I've never heard of Jake being rude to a fan." Er, really? Wanna list? I've got examples in spades. He's human! He fucks up! And yet despite his errors, people willingly (consciously?) overlook his flaws and choose to maintain their image of him as the guy who is as close to their vision of perfection (i.e. whatever it is they're looking for in a man, which in many cases includes IMperfections) as they can get. And THAT is what I find fascinating about Jake Gyllenhaal. I don't think he has a CLUE the grip he has on people and I don't think he'd ever purposefully deceive us...but the truth is, he doesn't have to. We deceive ourselves for him! His fans want him to be whatever it is they're looking for and what he has missed in being detached from that aspect of his celebrity is his own input into his image. His greatest weakness in being a celebrity (detachment) is actually his greatest power (universal appeal based on a sculptable persona)! I seriously can't think about it too much or my head will hurt.

But. Of course, I NEVER see any of that side of him in RPS! Although that's probably a good thing because anything that rang THAT close to the truth would freak me out on about a thousand different levels. The authors I've read have put incredible care into creating their characters but they interpret things differently than I do and maybe it's that slightly-off characterization that keeps it enough in the fantasy world for me to read as much as I have.

Excellent post, by the way. :D I feel like I've just cleansed my soul in your comments. ;D

Cherita said...

PG, I want to thank you for taking the time to write all that. Your intelligence and your satirical approach to the insanity of fandom is what always drew me to Jake Watch, and what drives me to continue to defend it to the occasional individual who doesn't get it.

I am improving, gradually. I haven't re-read any of the material in question for...well, a few days now. As you said, the way these authors portray Jake plays directly to something that's already in me--us, the fans, so yeah, that was a big part of it. But not just the looks. He was also granted a magnetic, absolutely compelling personality that distilled all my favorite suppositions. It was the inclusion of both, as I see them in my mental Jake, that walloped me. I know just from the crap I come across online that there are actual, living human beings who aren't attracted to Jake, baffling as that may be to me. :) There's no doubt they'd see this stuff as nauseating in its unrelenting portrayal of the "magical creature."

Jake is really, REALLY good at putting on his game face and playing his role as a celebrity. And maybe he even meant it at the very moment it came out of his mouth...but there was a glaring omission: he's fine with it as long as he isn't involved in it. He's not hypocritical, he's just really that disconnected with what it actually means to use a celebrity for escapism.

I think you've probably hit the nail on the head with this. It's not a conscious recognition of how big the problem is for some people, because to do that, he'd have to be involved. And the more I see in this community, the more grateful I am that he's not involved, most of the time, because people get so passionate over their own ideas of him that they attack each other. I'm often embarrassed to count myself among them as a fan. That's not fandom, that's something else I've never seen before, and it scares me.

I read people saying thing like, "I've never heard of Jake being rude to a fan." Er, really? Wanna list? I've got examples in spades. He's human! He fucks up! And yet despite his errors, people willingly (consciously?) overlook his flaws and choose to maintain their image of him as the guy who is as close to their vision of perfection (i.e. whatever it is they're looking for in a man, which in many cases includes IMperfections) as they can get. And THAT is what I find fascinating about Jake Gyllenhaal. I don't think he has a CLUE the grip he has on people and I don't think he'd ever purposefully deceive us...but the truth is, he doesn't have to. We deceive ourselves for him! His fans want him to be whatever it is they're looking for and what he has missed in being detached from that aspect of his celebrity is his own input into his image. His greatest weakness in being a celebrity (detachment) is actually his greatest power (universal appeal based on a sculptable persona)! I seriously can't think about it too much or my head will hurt.

Sorry for the big quote, but I just have to say this is quite possibly the most insightful, brilliant thing I've seen written in this fandom, ever. Like you, I'm baffled by the attitudes of those who think Jake really is that perfect being in their heads, and anyone with evidence to the contrary is being unfair or critical. I hear a new report of Jake refusing a photo or an autograph to someone, and I brace myself for another round. Why can't everyone just accept it for what it is? He's human. No one wants to be perfect and polite and selfless all the time. It doesn't require rationalization.

We all joke about him teasing us, but like you said, I don't think he is even remotely aware of the depth of it all. How intense and passionate all these masses of strangers are, building whole realities around him to suit their needs, then defending their realities against each other's, as if they had some stake in his life, as if that really were his life. In this sense, that he has somehow bewitched so many people out of all rationality, maybe Jake is somewhat magical. It does indeed make him fascinating.

Prophecy Girl said...

Ditto to everything you said! Especially the part about Jake's characterizations in fiction because you're right and I didn't mean to imply it was only his looks that got him anywhere in these stories. Very much the opposite, in fact!! But a very close friend of mine, when looking at my pics of Jake from Toronto, said, "I don't want to offend you or anything, but he kinda looks like crap." Ha! So, proof that the magic of the Gyllenlook does not work on everyone. At all! :) And it's really heightened my awareness of how much we take for granted our opinions about his attractiveness...

But I really do spend stupidly long amounts of time trying to rationalize what's happened to me in my "Jake experience" and how that relates to what's happened to other people and that's why I was so impressed with your post. It just touches on about a billion different issues that run through my mind every day. So thanks for allowing me to spill my mind! I could go on forever but I'll spare you...and Jonathan Ross is on less than an hour so I feel like I should switch off any deep thoughts at this point. ;) I know I don't comment here much but I want you to know that I think you're doing a great thing by putting your thoughts out there with this blog. :)