‘The Meddler’ features Blues Traveler performing. As it is a real-life band, the lead singer John Popper commented so an interview, ‘We’re playing ourselves, which, you know, it’s kind of the toughest role, because, does anyone really know themselves? So, it’s kind of an issue, but I think we can work through it. I’ve been making some notes.’
Here are some further notes for working through! What Popper mentioned is paradoxically true. While it might seem easiest to just be yourself, there are many alternative ‘selves’ to choose from. What makes any particular version more authentic than another? And if we are a combination of all these versions instead, how do we portray all in one go? If the version that has to be portrayed before the camera then is the one scripted, how real can it be?
What about actual dramatic actors trying to authenticate themselves via their roles? Is it not more confounding? Do they lose themselves in the acting? If they do, how do they find themselves again? Yet, if the acting is not authentic, it would become poor acting. It is perhaps through such self-questioning that we loosen our otherwise solid illusory sense of self, to realise why there is no fixed self in the first place. The ‘base’ we return to is simply our continuum of habitual forces, that does morph too, mostly subtly.
We can imagine that the best actors are those with the least self-fixations, thus being the most fluid, the most apt in character shape-shifting. But all these might seem disconcerting, even for non-actors – for who are we really then? Being no one in particular seems liberating yet bleak at the same time. Though with no single fixed nature, we do always have Buddha-nature – the potential to become fully enlightened on all phenomena. As a potential, it is always there, yet not within our body or mind as a material or mental entity.
To add to the meta nature of the film, it was written by the director Lorene Scafaria, about herself writing the screenplay, who also directs another version of herself via an actress. While such scriptwriting provides great opportunity for deeper honest self-reflection, for attracting audiences, it usually calls for some creative adaptations too. In a sense, we are all directors and actors, adapting our past experiences into our present attitudes. We are, for now, expressed as approximations of who we really are and can be!