Growing up, destiny surrounded me with doctors.  My father was a doctor.  My godfather was a doctor.  My brother became a doctor.  His wife is a doctor.  I once dated a doctor too, and nowadays, one of my good friends is on the verge of becoming a doctor.

To me, doctors were never exotic.  They were never gods.  They were real people and like all real people, I knew they had their very own flaws and struggles (except maybe for financial ones).  They had occasional doubts, crisis, fights with loved ones, deceptions and addictions.  I even knew some could cross the line and fall onto the dark side.

Doctors were not perfect, but I loved them for who they were: humans. I even admired them.  They studied a lot, were disciplined and dedicated.  They had a respect for life, most of the time.  Some of them were even truly motivated by a desire to help.  But it was clear that I could not admire them as much as other people did.  Because most people refused to renounce perfection.  They needed to look up and dream, just like they did with celebrities. It mystified yet amused me.

When I decided to be an actor, I wondered how people would come to perceive me.  If they got excited as soon as I mentioned acting, they quickly went from enthusiasm to disappointment granted I didn’t star on a show they knew.  I fell into a category that was as obscure to them as the real life of a doctor.

I came to realize that subconsciously, many people looked at struggling actors as glorified prostitutes, as lazy charity-addicts, as vain creatures who were desperate for attention – some of them truly were –  and money, and even occasionally as pity-deserving delusional losers.  Because why would actors choose such an unstable lifestyle if they weren’t fame-obsessed, narcissistic to death or just plain pretentious?  How could they truly be talented if they couldn’t book jobs?  Or, worse, why would they complain about money if they were on TV commercials?

I frequently tried to explain my life to friends, family members and strangers alike.  Many listened but left me with that lasting feeling that I hadn’t been clear.  So I decided to imagine what doctors would go through if their field was similar to the acting industry.  Because if doctors could finally understand our lives, people who looked up to them also would, and that meant pretty much everyone.  What if doctors, and not actors, were the glorified prostitutes?  What would their lives look like behind the curtain?

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1. It’s much easier to become a doctor if your dad’s a doctor too.  He can introduce you to the hospital director and that could get you a job, even without training.  You’ll then have a choice: use that opportunity to become a good doctor and learn to improve, or surf on it and never become a great doctor. Both options can lead to a significant career because medicine is very unpredictable.

2. It’s much easier to become a doctor as a child.  So don’t wait, granted you know it’s your destiny at 3 years old.  This, of course, depends largely on your parents’ will for they’ll have to justify your absence from school and drive you to the hospital for operations, sometimes at 5am.

3. You can only be a doctor in the city, at least a doctor whom people can trust.  In every country, there is one of two cities where it’s possible to work as a doctor, and you’ll have to speak the local language without any accent, preferably.

4. Being a doctor is mostly about looks.  Whether you’re good or not at operating people is very secondary.  First, people need to fancy you, one way or another.  Only then will they look at your skills and resume.

5. Make sure your operations are easy to watch.  Though you should apply yourself conscientiously when healing your patients, the outcome of each operation you tape might not get noticed.  What is important is to have a good camera so people think your operations are easy and fun to watch.  Only then will they consider you for a job at the hospital.

6. As a doctor, build a catchy website and have a Twitter account.  Don’t forget Facebook.  You need to constantly remind people you exist.

7. Never speak to the staff directly.  When it comes to professional talk, let someone else do it for you and don’t trust your guts.  People don’t want to have to deal with doctors, doctors are exhausting.  Convince someone to communicate on your behalf, even if it takes a lot to convince them.

8. As a doctor, you will have to go through numerous interviews.  If you’re lucky enough to get them, that is.  Rumour has it that they’re easier to get in the States, but good luck getting the papers.  You will compete with thousands of doctors and have to prove that you’re an extraordinary doctor.

For each operation you do or patient you see, you will be tested beforehand, and asked to perform all of the required manoeuvres.  If a hospital likes you, it will ask you to repeat the same test 2 to 5 times.

9. Create your own operations.  If you lack the money, borrow some.  Don’t have the right tools?  Who cares!  The important thing is to be proactive and do something.  That’s how you’ll become a good doctor and, if you’re lucky enough, you might even get noticed by a hospital that will recruit you once you’ve built a clientele.  After the tests, that is.

10. As a doctor, go mingle.  Happy hours are a great place to meet hospital directors, fellow doctors and nurses and prove them that you’re not a freak.  Because remember that when it comes to medicine, personality comes first.

11. Do not approach hospitals in an aggressive way.  Showing too much interest for medicine is like not showing enough.  Hospitals tend to prefer doctors who don’t “want it too much”.

12. As a doctor, do not expect a salary.  Asking for money is not welcome in this field.  Everyone wants to practice medicine and your skills are not that essential.  You are replaceable as there’s always a cuter doctor around, ready to take your job (for free).  Start volunteering for a few decades and reinvest all of your salary into expensive training and self-marketing.  Only then should you start paying your debts back.

13. Ignore your family’s requests to quit medicine, even if they occur every time you have dinner with them.  Only you know whether you can do this or not.  Success may come late in life.

If you follow these tips carefully, you are on the path of a rewarding career, no matter if you get paid, or even noticed.  Because you can complain about medicine all you want, remember that a surgery has the power to heal the heart of a lonely lover, of a frightened kid, of a war survivor, of a hungry politician, of a poor immigrant or of a gay cowboy.  Touching their hearts will remind them that they’re lucky to be alive.  And it will remind you that we are all the same.  Break a leg.  And get better.



riplinThere I was, close enough to watch the show, far enough to disappear.  And for once, I didn’t have – or want – to be on stage.  I could relax.

It was a show but it was real.  It was about the Internet, but it wasn’t the Internet: I didn’t have to remind people I existed, to reveal my many castings, that I had a soul on top of a body, and all that jazz.

The play started.  The actors slowly disappeared to leave space to dozens of screens featuring an unexpected mix of viral videos, creating a choir of absurd mashups leading to unsuspected poetry hidden in the corners of today’s worldwide web.  Modernity had its enemies, but as a part of life, it held a unique form of beauty.

And then it stopped.  My actor friend faced the audience and, of course, had to talk about the peculiar, horrific and unique “viral” video of the year: the murder of Lin Jun.  My friend asked if anyone was willing to watch it on stage, for the first time.  This was a highly daring move, at the limits of any moral system, and some people reminded him by leaving the theatre.  Was Montreal so small that they actually knew the victim or, worse, his murderer?  Or was this just plain wrong?

I didn’t raise my hand.  I had no interest in watching such an evil crime, out of respect for Lun Jun’s family, not to encourage a psychopath and because it wouldn’t bring anything but nightmares.  But some guy raised his hand.

I wondered: was it as wrong as I felt it was and if so, why had so many people watched the video since it first got uploaded?  As the voyeur proudly walked up to the stage, I realized that his motivation was, to a certain level, only human.  I could see he felt empowered, strong and invincible from measuring himself to the most extreme violence imaginable.  And I knew he wasn’t alone.  In his eyes, I detected the hypnotic state specific to people looking at a fire, at an accident or at some cheap re-enactment of a crime on a random TV show…  Humans feared death as much as they needed to face it, at least once in a while.  It reminded them about the extraordinary power of being alive.  Yet why did this still feel wrong?

The answer came at the end of the video.  Only this one guy could see it, which relieved the audience but also forced us to observe him.  The clip ended and after a brief second, the voyeur shrugged, in such a subtle manner that only a few noticed.  He shrugged.  Like when you mean “it’s not that bad”.  What he meant was probably that it was “not that bad to watch”.  But he was looking at the problem the wrong way, because he was only looking at himself, Magnotta style.  Had he thought, for a second, about how bad it had been for Lin Jun?

Unlike Magnotta, this guy wasn’t a psychopath.  He was the product of an era in which we were all so busy watching our own feelings that we were losing our ability to imagine those of others.  Projection and, by extension, compassion, was a skill endangered by a system that praised the lack of pity and overblown responsibility.

As an actor, I surely tried to get out of myself and feel what others felt.  But like anyone else, if not more, I was constantly observed and analyzed, which threatened to bring me back to myself at any moment.  That is what was wrong.

Watching the video was not the problem.  Not understanding what it implied was the problem, and probably the reason people wanted to look at it in the first place.  Whether you were a tech-savvy baby-boomer or a teenager raised on Facebook, you were part of the new virtual generation.  Videogames about shootings didn’t automatically make mass shooters.  They could even act as a release.  But in the midst of our second-degree existence, did we see so little of reality that our subconscious had somewhat forgotten that life was real?  I was sure of one thing: people who knew Lin Jun hadn’t.