Actor Corbin Bernsen is troubled by America's addiction to technology and social networking. "On the show that I do, Psych, the minute they say 'Cut,' all the phones come out," he says. "You never see people move so fast as when they're reaching for their phones." What, Bernsen wonders, does everyone need to talk about, text about and tweet about so urgently? And what meaningful experiences are they missing in their mad dash to fill every moment with instant technology and easy communication? This observation is part of what inspired 3 Day Test, a family comedy that Bernsen co-wrote and directed. The movie, released last week on DVD, is about a man (played by George Newbern) who has lost touch with his family. In his attempt to reconnect, he locks his wife and kids inside the house with him for three days. No contact with the outside world is allowed. The idea is that, by going off the grid, it will force everyone in the house to get to know each other better. Bernsen, who was in Dallas last week, isn't saying families should go to this extreme. "But I do think we could all benefit from unplugging just a little bit," he says.
1 What's your beef with technology?
I'm not against technology. Technology helps people in numerous ways. But in many cases, it also isolates us. It has become a substitute for human interaction and community. I look around and I see that human interaction is gone, replaced by people staring at whatever is happening on their cellphones.
2 That said, how tethered are you to your cellphone?
It's right here in my pocket. The first call I made when I got to Dallas was to my wife. 'Hi, honey, I love you. I just wanted to tell you I'm here.' I did that. But I don't try to fill the empty moments with it. I'm not like, 'Check the weather, check the scores, play a game.' I'm not on it all day long.
3 Do you think families could benefit from conducting a real-life 3 Day Test?
They would absolutely benefit. I guarantee it. If you took any family and locked them in their house and turned off the power, they're going to learn something about themselves. Of course, they might learn a thing or two that they'll wish they didn't know.
4 In addition to directing the film, you play a supporting role as a nutty TV news cameraman. Do you have more freedom as an actor now, at age 58, than you did in your younger, L.A. Law years?
I do. In the beginning, as an actor, there are so many things you have to be concerned about. What's my career trajectory? What is my brand? How am I going to be perceived in this role? Agents are pushing you here, pushing you there. You have to be so calculating about everything. Today, none of that matters.
5 What matters now instead of the career trajectory?
I still love acting. I love making these little films. But what matters at this point in my life is that I have a wonderful wife and four great kids. And that will never change, no matter what my job is.
-- David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram