Tuesday, August 02, 2011

I was Mary Hart

For those of you not in the know Mary Hart was the host of Entertainment Tonight. In fact as a host she lasted nearly thirty years. Not bad considering the business she was in.

She was also immortalised in this bit from Seinfeld.

I used to watch Entertainment Tonight. Well ... not really watch. More 'have on'. It used to air in the afternoons and, if I was home, I usually had the TV on in the background as I did this and that.

The thing that struck me about ET, by which it is also known, was when there were two hosts on, usually Mary plus a non-Mary, then when they took it in turns to speak, the other silent host was left in a quandary.

That is ... what to do with their face.

So they seemed to me to divide their time of silence into looking at the speaking host ... then back to the camera ... then back to the host ... then back to the camera. All the while maintaining the same frozen expression of smiling non-warmth. Like you see in public affairs people for Scientology when defending their "religion" on camera in and insert-documentary-about-Scientology-here.

Recently I took part in my first video teleconferencing. The public service is using this option for meetings in greater numbers now. For the simple fact that we're 22 million plus change people on a continent. Senior public servants are forever travelling between Canberra and the regions for business. Now with the tech being readily accessible in terms of cost and ease-of-use it's more cost-effective to wire up regional offices and the head-shed and have people talk via teleconference where practical.

I didn't want to do it.

I am a large, weird looking man. Furthermore my experience to date of being on camera has been limited and not-good at that. For the most part it's seeing the back of my balding head on a four-split screen monitor at the petrol station when I'm lining up to pay. Although twice now I have dabbled, poorly, in the fine-arts where cameras were inclined. A cameo in an avante-garde young-people effort about visiting Canberra and my staring as a whiny gamer in a short film attempt that took the piss out of gamers. Neither of my efforts were acceptable to anyone and I apologise for my appearance in them.

So I have to admit I was dreading seeing myself on-screen in all my ├╝ber lumpy oddness.

Only ... I have to say ... it wasn't that bad. I was seated and wearing dark clothing—which helped blend me into the background. And because I was facing front on the Friar Tuck patch was mostly not on show. Not that I care that much. I've resigned myself to being balding, though if my remaining hair gets long, I do admit to starting to resemble a bearded version of The Baldy Man.

But ... during the event ... I totally went the silent-host face rotate. I fully had no idea where to direct my face when one of my team was talking. Since mostly it was my boss talking, waxing lyrical with her large brain active on such matters, for the most part I looked at her. But then ... then my brain screamed 'NO! YOU MUST LOOK AT THE OTHER PEOPLE TOO!' So I did. A frozen rictus-grin that rotated back to them now and then like those scary-as-all-fuck rotating clown heads you see down Aussie sideshow alleys.

Next time, if there is one, I will either just look at the speaker on my side of the conference and alternate my facial direction downward by appearing to be make copious notes.

Mikey ... faking note-taking to avoid the
silent-host face rotate.

I'm doing it for the people.

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