Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reflections on Glory Eluded

I could have been a contender, instead of a lousy bum.

I could be eyeball deep in internet bucks right now, but my own dilly-dallying has given another sufficient time to snatch my glory away from me.

Since 2001, I have been painstakingly chronicling the appearances of one of the worst TV and movie extras ever to grace celluloid. This extra is not only a strange looking man-child, he's an overactor who pulls attention towards the background that his participation is supposed to immerse the viewer in. And sadly, because of this internet video, you've probably heard of him:

I first noticed Jessie Heiman, the 'World's Greatest Extra', when his odious acting skills ruined one of the crucial scenes in 2001's Spider Man (a YouTube viewer also noted it and put it online here). Ever since then, Jessie has been haunting my films and TV shows. There he is in Goldmember. Now he's in Old School. I could pull one of my DVDs off the rack, and if I paid enough attention, he'd appear in the background. Holy Christ, there he is in Catch Me If You Can.

I started a Word Document with a list of all his appearances, years before I had a blog to share it on, but eventually, I just had to stop. I was obsessed, turning on films just to scour the background. "That Fat Extra" is in here somewhere. I'd terrify new girlfriends during movie-time by jumping up from the couch and pointing at the screen - "IT'S THE SAME FAT EXTRA FROM SPIDERMAN! HE'S TERRIBLE!"

Things eased off when I moved to the States in 2006, until I saw that he was in a mobile-phone commercial. I took to YouTube and found his profile. The fat extra had a name. He was just some kid earning a crust, and not some demon that only I could see. For a while, I was at peace.

But then he started showing up in the TV shows I was watching. Curb Your Enthusiasm. Arrested Development. Heroes. He was there, and he was taunting me:

I started a new list chronicling his every move, as the old file was three-computers ago. The monomania was back. I started a blog entry draft called "that fat extra". I scrawled down timestamps from episodes of his appearances. It grew and grew and grew, and since it kept growing, I thought it best to sit on it for a while longer.

This decision was follysome. The YouTube embedded above video came out in March of this year, and 2 million hits later, Jessie's a guest on Jay Leno. This obscure flush-faced fattie just went mainstream, and the screengrabs and scrawled notes now amount to naught.

Still, I can take some solace knowing that I wasn't the only one bothered by his ubiquity, and even though his newfound fans are flooding his YouTube page with gushing comments about how great he is, there's one comment there that predates all the others by a good few years; mine:

And in case you're curious, he wasn't kind enough to reply, the talentless prick.

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