Privilege Unmasked

I’ve been working at a fairly steady clip over the past several months, aside from a long break for the holidays, and as I’ve talked about before, we are adapting to this new normal of how to work on set during The Covid Times in various ways. On one TV show I worked on, everyone is tested every few days, every crew member must be masked at work at all times unless they are at least 10 feet from everyone else, and anyone anywhere on the stage when talent is there must also wear a face shield. If you’ve worn a face shield lately (and there’s a clause I would never have considered I’d have need of a year ago), you know that this is annoying — it’s hot, it’s hard to see (though — pro tip — easier if you are wearing a dark-colored mask), hard not to fog up, hard for other people to hear you, and if you’re wearing other stuff on your head, like headphones and glasses, there’s a good chance something is going to fall off at some point.

I’ve commented in earlier posts on “safety theater” imposed by production doing more harm than good, but given the way I’ve seen sets operate, I don’t think the mandatory face shield is that. The reason being that talent are almost certainly going to be taking their masks off to act on camera, and not always putting them back on in the space of time in which things generally happen that might involve crew members getting close to them — such as a makeup/hair/wardrobe touch-up, or body mic adjustment, or a lens change, or a prop reset. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a crew person within a foot of an unmasked actor who, in my mind, the moment they took their mask off, became a biohazard. I hate that I think like that now, especially because they are required to take their masks off for their job (Let’s face it: Nobody wants to look at an actor behind a mask, not only because we are all so so sick of looking at people in masks, but because, as we all now know, it is extremely hard to see what someone is thinking or feeling when they are wearing a mask, and that is kind of the whole point of acting, which is why “Botoxed actor” is an oxymoron), and it does also put them at greater risk, since, unless they are alone in the scene, they are performing unmasked with other unmasked people. I’ve even had one actor tell me he felt like he had to convince me that he a was responsible and careful human being, but it didn’t have anything to do with me trusting him. It’s that I can’t possibly trust every single person in his life that he might ever encounter, and even if I did, I couldn’t trust all the people that they might encounter, and the people that they might encounter, increasing exponentially to just an absurd amount of humans, at least one of whom has got to be doing something wrong, or else we wouldn’t have community spread. If you’re not wearing a mask because it’s your job, I totally understand that, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to hang out with you while you’re not wearing your mask any longer than I have to, because by the transitive property, I’m hanging out with all of those other people too. This isn’t personal, it’s just basic understanding of the virus that we’re dealing with here.

Continue reading “Privilege Unmasked”