Sometimes I think I live under a rock. Celebrities--be they actors, politicians, news anchors, musicians--somehow they all blur together in my mind and become pretty much indistinguishable to me. News about famous people always kind of confuses me. "Wait, wait, don't tell me, now was he the one who played Batman, or was he the one who played Superman?" David and I went to see The Dark Knight on Friday, and it was almost ridiculous how many times I had to whisper to him, "So...who's Batman again?" I mean, no, I totally can remember that Batman is the guy in the big black suit, and I even know he's the slick millionaire Bruce Wayne, but what the hell was the actor's name?
"Christian Bale," whispers David, for the third time. And then, as though this will help me, "He's the one who got in trouble for beating up on his mother and someone else."
This added detail does not ring any bells. (I have since researched this alleged incident, and I am honestly less interested in it now than I was then, if that's possible.)
Obviously, there is a point when a person is so famous that they penetrate my cluelessness. I can pick the presidential candidates out of a line-up, for instance. Most of them, anyway. And although I may not have any clue who the anchor was who interviewed them, there are some celebs I can figure out. Oprah, for instance. I almost never mix her up with anyone else.
So I just always thought I didn't care about famous people. I kind of felt a little smug about it, even. As in, I am above the plebian crowd. Then I was talking to one of my co-workers, and she mentioned that she has difficulty with facial recognition. She was talking about it almost like a social disability. As she talked, I realized she was talking about me.
So pretty much, until I form some kind of emotional attachment to someone, I cannot recognize their face. And somehow, it mostly impacts me with men. They all look alike to me. This explained a lot about why, whenever we watch action-adventure type movies, especially if the people all dress alike, I'm always confused. "Was that the guy who shot all those people in the beginning?" I'll ask David, and he gives me this look like, "WTF? Where have you been?"
The dressing alike piece could also be why I can't for the life of me tell news anchors apart. They're just like a cookie cutter to me, a suit with a balding white head that tells me shit I'm supposed to know. Until I get some kind of emotion from them, or meet them in person, I have no clue who they are or what they look like. This frustrates David to no end, since he works in news. I mean, I can't even identify the reporters of our local news, the station he works for, the people he talks about in our daily lives. Just last night I went downstairs to tell him something I had seen on the news, and he asked me, "Was it so-and-so?" and I had to dig through my brain. "Uhmmmm, she was blond I think?"
So since realizing I have a social disability instead of just a huge-ass case of elitism, I've tried harder to differentiate among the beautiful people. After all, I figure if I can learn like a hundred names and faces of kids in my classes (who do dress pretty much identically, thanks to our uniform code), I can probably manage to recognize my state's governor or Maggie Gyllenhaal (even though I had to look it up twice to spell her last name right). Other people who have disabilities find ways to cope. Mine is that I have to find an emotional connection to these people. One way I can do it is to actually see their movies. For instance, I feel relatively certain I can now identify Christian Bale, provided that he is wearing a black bat suit. Oh, and as long as nobody ELSE tries to fool me by wearing the suit. Gyllenhaal is easier, for one because she's a woman, and for two, because I remember seeing photos of her nursing an older infant in public, and once you've seen a woman's breasts, it should follow that it's easier to remember her name. Although, not necessarily her face.
So I'm working on it. And in the meantime, let's just hope I am not ever the sole witness to a crime. "Uhhhh, I think he was wearing a suit? And...he might have been a white guy? Maybe?"