There are times when actors, even subconsciously, start to believe they are who they play. Martin Sheen is probably the most obvious example, as he occasionally needs someone to take him aside and gently remind him that he's not, actually, President Bartlett. Then there's his fellow traveller, Sean Penn, who seems to have morphed into a weird, real world combination of every angry, maverick social campaigner he has ever played and now spends his life wandering around disaster areas shouting at journalists for no apparent reason.
In fairness to Penn, you have to admire his chutzpah – particularly after the kicking he got when he went to New Orleans to rescue stranded children, only for his overcrowded boat, complete with entourage and his personal photographer, to sink in full view of the laughing media. Now it appears that Chris O'Dowd is channelling his inner Dave Lovelace.
That was the name of his character in The Sapphires, when he played the protective manager of an aboriginal girl group who faced discrimination and racial prejudice. It's a lovely little movie based on a true story and now art seems to be further imitating life with Boyle's most famous son having a dig at viewers of The X Factor for being racist.
Admittedly, there are many words one could use to describe these viewers – gullible, credulous, hysterical and emotionally malleable spring to mind – but O'Dowd instead asserts that: "I'm a big X Factor fan. Generally my favourites go out in the first few weeks and, of course, because the viewing public is so racist, all the black, strong singers go out in round five every year."
But are they black enough? Because in the febrile atmosphere of the row O'Dowd now finds himself embroiled in, even the presence of black winners isn't enough to convince some critics that viewers aren't cross-burning Klan members. According to campaigner, Paul Boakye, Leona Lewis wasn't even really, properly black. Instead, he says she is: "International beige." Frankly, I assumed that 'international beige' was a form of spectacularly bland office wallpaper, but now it's a rather damning skin colour. Who knew?
But no matter how easy it is to scoff at those who see bigotry when it may be something as simple as a contestant not being very good, there have been some pretty unseemly explosions of blatant prejudice against some of those taking part, most notable Hannah Barrat, one of last year's crop. The 17-year-old went public with some of the racial abuse she received and it was as vile and hateful as you could expect. Even then, however, it wasn't actually Whitey who was hurling the abuse. As she said at the time: "The sad thing is that most of them (comments) have been made by black people who just have lighter skin than me."
Does O'Dowd, a genuinely popular bloke who has managed that unusual feat of achieving international success while still appearing to be a genuinely nice and smart guy, really think that someone who votes for a white singer over a black one is a racist? In reality, anybody who allows themselves into being manipulated into voting for this painfully choreographed, infantile bilge is more likely to be tone deaf, and not a racial supremacist who wants to keep the black man down by constantly voting for some white bird with a sob story and ability to cry on cue.
After all, vast numbers of white kids are entirely influenced by black street culture and I bet, as you read this, you know at least one middle class Irish teenager who behaves like he walked out of a Public Enemy video. You don't need to be any skin colour be transported by Al Green or Marvin Gaye, you just need a soul and I spent far too much of my teenage years devouring everything from Gil Scott-Heron upwards – music is music.
So if the star of Moone Boy really wants to have a look at racism in music, maybe he would like to share his views on the MOBOs.
After all, an awards ceremony devoted to 'Music Of Black Origin' seems pretty exclusionary to me.
MAYBE I'M GETTING OLD, BUT . . .
We all know that the Premier League is unrecognisable from the game that many people grew up with. The attention, the money, the constant efforts to make the whole thing as corporate as possible and squeeze traditional fans out of the grounds are all part of the most frequent gripes. But sometimes it's the tiny details that make the game a laughing stock.
United fans are still wincing – well, this one is – at Sunday's memory of Old Trafford mascot, Fred The Red, joining the team to solemnly bow his head in silence as they marked the anniversary of Munich.
Yes, we're going to commemorate the deaths of 23 people, and one of the greatest tragedies in football's history, by getting a middle-aged bloke to dress like a deranged Tellytubby and stand in mourning with the players.
It's what Duncan would have wanted, eh?
NOW THAT'S SOME FINE REBELLING
She's as mad as the proverbial box of bionic badgers and prone to paranoid flights of fancy that would see her locked up in some countries, but Rosie O'Donnell could never be accused of being reticent.
The gay activist spoke this week of how the son she adopted with her partner has rebelled against all her liberal teaching – by joining the army.
You don't need to be a shrink to see this is a perfect example of the disastrous consequences of unconventional, non-traditional adoption.
After all, does anyone really think it's in the best interests of a child to be raised by comedians?
(Cue Twitter abuse from outraged comics everywhere.)