Is it just me, or were movie stars better before social media?

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As a saucer-eyed, cinema-mad kid, I had no idea what Michael J. Fox’s kitchen looked like. I hadn’t a clue what Harrison Ford’s workout consisted of. And I was blind to how Jennifer Grey spoke and moved in everyday life. Indeed, I had no concrete conception of the filmmaking machine behind the fantasy. I was fully immersed in watching Marty, Indy, and Baby, believing implicitly in their backstory, reactions, and character choices. 

Then the internet happened. And social media. And my Pandora’s Box sensibilities meant I couldn’t not look. I greedily followed filmmakers and stars on multiple platforms, hungry for every behind-the-scenes tidbit, each glimpse into their lives and a greater context for movie moments. I craved more information, more, more... 

And now, like looking into the Ark of the Covenant, I’m kinda sorry that I peeked. In this brand-building, multi-platform world we now live in, movie stars are prodigious posters, constantly littering my feeds with Insta-stories of domestic drudgery, tweeted pics of meetings or endless junkets, videos of leg day, back-claps to tweets they don’t like, hashtags, hashtags, hashtags... And I know too much. Now it’s hard to separate movie stars IRL from on screen. 

I’m now so aware of Dwayne Johnson’s gym sessions that I can only think of the hours of work that went into carving that bod when I see it in movies. Armie Hammer’s new shower filter is in the back of my mind when watching him emote. I know altogether too much about Kate Beckinsale’s pussy (white fluffball Clive). James McAvoy isn’t actually really intense, Hugh Jackman seems to holiday a lot, Will Smith is not good with a hot pie, Josh Brolin is a poet goofball and not a terrifying granite man... 

All of which means actors are no longer blank pages. Their characters are worn more lightly to me and it’s harder to suspend my disbelief. Ultimately, my cinematic experience is less visceral. I’m starting to think (as my scrolling finger aches and throbs) that it was better when movie stars were actually mysterious and white-noise-free creatures, as inscrutable as the Sphinx... Or is it just me? 

Each month Total Film magazine argues a polarising movie opinion and gives you the opportunity to agree/disagree/tell us we’re mad. Let us know what you think about this one in the comments below and read on for more.

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