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All White Guys Look Alike

weather: raining
outside: 6°C
mood: meh...
I have a lot of trouble telling actors apart.

I was reading an interview with Christopher Lee and I thought he was in another movie, so I looked it up on IMDB. But it turns out that I have him mixed up with Frank Langella.

This reminded me of all the other actors that I can't tell apart.

Patrick Swayze, Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Bill Pullman, Jeff Bridges and Michael Douglas all look exactly the same to me. I get them wrong every single time.

Then there's Kevin Costner and Bruce Willis which might be understandable, but now, I've found that Alan Rickman, from this angle and lighting, doesn't look that far off. Sometimes, I can get Malcom McDowell mistaken for one of KC or BW and there's just no hope in hell for me in telling Malcom McDowell apart from Gordon Matthew Sumner.

There's also Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan. They even sound incredibly similar. I don't have as much trouble with these two because they usually play very different roles, but when I see promo shots or very quick trailer cuts (especially when PS has a hair piece in his costume), I have to look very carefully to see the difference or look up the movie and see who it actually is. I didn't know if watching X-Men would make my head explode or what.

Dwayne Johnson and Rob Schneider. One's bigger and one's smaller; Rob Schneider is hilarious and Dwayne Johnson... just tries to be... I know. But just looking at faces, I couldn't tell.

I can't always tell Adrien Brody from David Schwimmer or Dylan McDermott. I can't watch "The Practice" without expecting Bobby Donnell to do something stupid á là Ross Geller.

If I saw them more often, I'm certain I'd mistake Max von Sydow for Richard Harris all the bloomin' time. And there was a picture of Richard Harris that I thought was actually Peter O'Toole at first. I can't find it now though...

I also have to look carefully to tell the difference between Dustin Hoffman and John Hurt. And sometimes, I get either of those two mixed up with Robert De Niro. And now, we can add Sean Penn in here as well.

I absolutely cannot tell the difference between Andy Garcia and Al Pacino. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro used to be clones, but I think RDN has changed quite a bit and looks different from AP now.

Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Dustin Hoffman, David Duchovny, Alec Baldwin. ... ... ... I give up.      I.     JUST.     GIVE.     UP.

I talked about this with friends a long time ago. I realized that people in different cultures don't differentiate faces the same way as other cultures might.

Caucasians are used to telling people apart by their colouring in the eyes, hair and skin. But being Chinese, everyone has the same colour eyes, hair and skin, so I'm obviously not looking at that for my visual clues. I'm looking at facial features, shapes, sizes and distances from one reference mark to the next.

... I just like saying, "all White Guys look alike". =)



Dec. 11th, 2002 04:05 pm (UTC)
Don't worry. All asians look alike too. :)

Says she who has actually learned, by some miracle, to distinguish Vietnamese and Korean. Chinese and Japanese I still can't tell though, and those pesky filipinos who are half one thing half another confuse me entirely. :)

Dec. 11th, 2002 04:17 pm (UTC)
Heh =) A lot of South East Asian ethnicities, you just have to ask. They can be different nationalities, but the same ethnicity and vice versa.

There are a lot of Chinese in Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. In Indonesia, because it's illegal to have the same surname as someone else and not related by blood or marriage, the Chinese have had to take on Indonesian surnames so you can't tell that way either. =P
Dec. 11th, 2002 09:59 pm (UTC)
If you think you can tell them apart...
That reminds me of a quiz for people who think they found the knack of telling apart Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people: http://www.alllooksame.com/ . (I think I scored pretty badly on it when I took the test, but then I don't claim to be able to tell the difference.)
Dec. 11th, 2002 10:08 pm (UTC)
Re: If you think you can tell them apart...
11/18... I'm slightly above average. =)

But then, there's no real proof that any of their answer key is accurate. How do I know they haven't just made it up themselves? =D
Dec. 13th, 2002 09:25 am (UTC)
Koreans look a lot like Japanese people, to me, and I think it's because their are a lot of inter-relations (according to my Korean/Japanese-American friend). Chinese and Japanese look very different to me, but sometimes I can't tell them apart. It's wierd.

But I can definitely tell by name (usually). Jung, Cho, Kim are Korean, Japanese are obvious by their syllable system (Yokohama, Sazaki, Yakamuri) and Vietnamese are obvious to me, as well (Trung, Trang, Nguyen, Ngu) and occasionally I can guess wheather a Chinese name is Cantonese or Mandarin.
Dec. 13th, 2002 09:40 am (UTC)
It's much clearer when I see the face and the last name, then hear them talk, but without those, sometimes it's difficult =)

"Lee", "Jung", "Cho", "Kim" are also Chinese last names (Cantonese, Hakka or some other dialect spelling). "Park" is almost definitely Korean though =).

Japanese and Vietnamese last names are more obvious.

Then there are the Manchu surnames - Yehonala (var. Yehonara) and Aisin Gioro (I've seen a multitude of variants...) and other non-Han surnames. =P
Dec. 13th, 2002 07:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, there are some names that are juts "Asian" to me and I really couldn't tell you where they're from. Khmer, Thai, Manchu... Lord knows. Chinese people look rather distinct to me. Not always, of course, but often.

I remember when Guo Li came over to our house and this Serbian fellow (it was Internatinal Night at Chez Cedric!) told her she looked Japanese. And then later, we introduced her to some of our neighbors and one of them gave a deep Japanese-style bow. Not that he thought she was Japanese, it was just "Oh, Asian. Bow."


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