Sunday, February 10, 2019
Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times comes up with an interesting explanation for successful immigrant actors, using Christian Bale, a U.S. immigrant from the United Kingdom, as an example. Inspired by Bale's portrayal of Vice President Dick Cheney in the film Vice,
" I wonder if nativists and xenophobes have a point. To be an immigrant does confer at least one unfair advantage in life.
Immigration teaches — it almost forces — what we are now obliged to call soft skills. In order to fit in, the newcomer has to observe other people with an acuity that the born-insider might never develop. The eyes register nuances of body language. The ears twitch at subtleties of accent. You start to notice that the native-born are as different from each other as you are from them (especially in Britain, with its mille-feuille of social gradations) and that the manners that let you ghost into one group are not transferable to another. There is lots of trial and error, some of it comic, some of it wounding to recall in later life. There might even be some `code-switching' between home and the world outside."