Worlds & Time

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Meditation on Colton Haynes

There's usually some actor or artist that I've fixated on for some reason or another.  I've certainly posted enough about Erik Rhodes and Fredrik Eklund to imply that, but sometimes it's a more mainstream actor as well (and I'm not going to pretend that it's an actor OR actress because while I am loving every moment of Jennifer Lawrence's celebrity, I'm talking about another level of desire).

For a long time, for example, it was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, or JTT as he was known in the teen beat magazines.  Huh, have I ever actually said that before publicly?  To anyone?  I don't know, I don't think so.

The picture that I had of Jonathan was so nice and familiar and uh, . . . cute.  I had such a big crush on him that I couldn't imagine that people didn't think that he was the prettiest most-beautiful most-special . . . yeah, you get the picture.  There are still characters that live in my head that started off their fictional lives as Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Perhaps some of them as already fictional characters as portrayed by JTT that were further ficitonalized and adapted into the worlds in my head.

There are lots of guys living in there like that.  Who else?  I've had crushes on so many actors . . . all the way from A-listers like Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Lautner, Chris Evans and Josh Hutcherson to guys whose names you'll likely not recognize at all like Alexander Ludwig and Dan Wells.  And athletes like Alexi Nemov and *cough* Tom Daley and Matthew Mitcham.

So, anyway.  My current pop-culture crush is on Colton Haynes who, aside from being just about the most gorgeous guy that has ever lived, was on the show Teen Wolf and is now on Arrow.  Teen Wolf was/is my guilty pleasure.  For a show that should be crap though, it seems really well written and many of the side characters are just as lovable as the main characters.  In that it reminds me of Veronica Mars, I suppose.

When I first started watching Teen Wolf I found Colton Haynes to be rather shallow in the character of Jackson.  Jackson's the white, athletic, captain of the lacrosse team and he's dating a cheerleader. He's basically the epitome of shallowness, actually, and the guys that they usually get to play the shallow white male characters are themselves shallow white males.  Funny how that works out, yeah?  So at the beginning I gave more love to Tyler Posey (werewolf), Tyler Hochtlin, (werewolf), and Dylan O'Brien (brilliant comedic sidekick).

Anyway, there aren't that many guys in the age range that are could convincingly play teenagers in high school that are great actors, especially the ones that are selected to play characters that fit those good looking popular kid roles.  So I saw Colton Haynes playing such a character and didn't give him much of the benefit of the doubt.  To be clear, even though he was an actor in a show, I presumed that he was likely as superficial, conceited and bitchy as the character that he played.  I assumed that he was just as pretty in real life as he was in television land, but that's just television for you.

And then the character had additional characterization, as is the wont for characters in well written television series, and all of the sudden I found that I was actually feeling for this rich, gorgeous jock that was supposed to be the major high school (re: "normal life") antagonist.  Because I had, unwittingly, granted Colton Haynes a powerful version of suspension of disbelief: that he was the character that he played.

So when the character showed off fear and anger and confusion and pain I was surprised because I believed it.  It was acting, I know that, but it was excellent acting.  It was a powerful and professional and amazing performance given by someone that had to have really worked at it, thought about it, and then made the role his own in a way that few great actors can.

Or perhaps not.  Maybe Colton Haynes really was afraid, angry, confused and deeply hurt when those scenes were filmed and he and the director used them to get a good performance.  But he's pretty and a television star and honestly I doubt his life has held enough fear, anger, confusion and emotional pain to draw on them so brilliantly, so I'm just going to have to chalk it up to being a very good actor and playing a character.

Here's where I have to complain for a moment.  Jackson was the focus of the second season of Teen Wolf.  It was around his character that a lot of the mystery and action takes place, and it leads up into a grand reveal and a hint at the following season and then . . .

Colton Haynes leaves Teen Wolf and moves over to the show Arrow.  Well, crap.  It was hard to watch Teen Wolf stumble over that, because it was clear that they'd written Jackson into way too much of the third season and they didn't want to change all of the plans that they'd laid out so carefully.  So they had to force some of the characters into awkward positions and do some things that were sloppy before (and I hope this is true) being able to settle back into the flow of things.

I have to say that at first I had a bit of nasty feelings toward Arrow for poaching one of my favorite things about Teen Wolf.  Arrow does have a lot going for it.  Stephen Amell, the male lead, is very attractive (albeit not as hot as Colton Haynes), and it has both John Barrowman and Summer Glau in it, both of whom I like.

But it's not as well written.  It has some issues with how tightly plotted it is, and there are also some serious characterization problems where characters vacillate on what should be core beliefs and principles.  It has some opacity on moral questions: is it wrong to kill someone as a vigilante or not?  The show hasn't decided, and so the characters don't know what to think about it either.

The other issue is that Colton Haynes is woefully underused in his role as Roy Harper.  Roy has an interesting story line, with his life as a poor mugger/thief conflicting with dating one of the richest women in the city and his obsession with following "the Hood" changing what his life means.  But he's on the second rung of supporting characters, being a supporting character's significant other in a show with a surprisingly large cast.  So he doesn't have enough screen time.

I will say though, Colton is a good enough actor to add some great detail to his limited screen time.  In one of the most recent episodes of Arrow that I watched he walked into his girlfriend's mansion with her so that she could interact with her mother (does it still count as passing the Betchdel test if one of the women's male partners is present but nearly silent as they talk about non-men related issues?) and he stares around, wide eyed, because the character has never been there before, and honestly the character has probably never been in such an expensive home in his life.

As I've said, Colton is a good actor, perhaps even a great actor.  And he's got the movie star looks to back up his actual skills (although I can't decide whether that will help him or hurt him in the future).  And we get to see the occasional snippet of him behind the scenes in the social media presence that actors are required to keep these days.  And I've pretty much fallen for what I see of him.  That doesn't mean that he wouldn't absolutely hate me if he ever met me, but I've crushes on plenty of guys that didn't return the feelings before.

Speaking of which, I will say that I wish he was gay. It doesn't matter to his attractiveness whether he is or not, but it's harder to have a crush on a guy when you know for a fact that they can't return those feelings.  Not impossible, just harder.

Anyway, in the meantime, I wish him a good life.  Happiness, privacy, and moments of fun and peace.  

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