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Identity crisis
The Music Maker

Identity crisis

These days a lanyard is more often used to give an air of dubious self-importance to those who might otherwise spend their days going largely unnoticed, writes Peter Edgerton

Friday, 8 March 2024, 16:31

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Lanyards - those things people hang around their neck with some form of identity card on them - date back to 15th century France, apparently, when soldiers and pirates would use them to keep their weapons both secure and within reach. These days a lanyard is more often used to give an air of dubious self-importance to those who might otherwise spend their days going largely unnoticed.

The twenty-seventh Malaga film festival is in full swing and the city is awash with people in horn-rimmed spectacles making a horn-rimmed spectacle of themselves. Look here, my friends, there's no need to wear a lanyard to the pub - we're not proud, we let more or less anyone in, Manchester United fans included. Actually, I'm thinking of putting a sign on the door - 'No beachwear, no stag/hen parties, and, categorically, no lanyards', to see if that might have an effect.

The world of film-making is an odd environment where the protagonists (and often the not-so-protagonistic) bathe in the glow of real or imagined admiration for doing something which doesn't really seem to be that difficult to do compared to, say, working down a coal mine or being a single parent. As far as I'm aware, in neither of these cases are the people concerned generally given to awarding themselves prizes or walking on red carpets, though it would be perfectly understandable if they did. Where, then, does this cinematic hubris have its roots?

It must surely be a throwback to the golden age of the silver screen (if that's not a contradiction) when wide-eyed youngsters would queue for a ticket to the cinema in order to see the exotic actors and actresses ply their trade on gigantic screens, at a time that most households still didn't have a TV. If you were twelve years old and left your two-up two-down terraced house to spend an hour-and-a-half watching John Wayne handing out just deserts like sweeties or Ava Gardner gliding across The Snows Of Kilimanjaro, then you'd be inclined to think it was all some kind of glorious miracle which, I suppose, in a way, it was.

These days, however, when most of us watch films on devices the size of a sandwich and anyone can send a message to anyone on social media, you'd think the mystique would have lapsed.

Actually, I suspect it has - it's just that most people in the film industry haven't realised yet. Hence the lanyards.

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