Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Truth and/or Consequence

Keep Your Head - The Ting Tings (mp3)
Set Adrift On Memory Bliss - PM Dawn (mp3)

Our cultural hypocrisy continues to drive me a little bonkers.

Please note that when I say "our," I don't mean "y'all." I don't mean "me." I mean all of us. We elected George W. Bush, and we elected Barack Obama, and we bought hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of Michael Jackson music within 72 hours of his death. Did you? Did I? It doesn't matter. We did. All of us. Together.

I'm specifically troubled at the moment by our claim to give a rat's ass about truth, about honesty, about sincerity. Truth is, we don't like truth. We don't prefer honesty. We don't want sincerity.

Maybe we want all of these things -- more often than not, anyways -- out of our loved ones and close friends. But once you get past that first circle of connections, we as a society don't want any of these things from anyone else. What we want, what we expect, what we demand, is simplicity. We want things easy to ignore, easy to digest, and easy to forget. This is my best conclusion after seeing how the journalistic and political cognoscenti reacted to Gov. Mark Sanford's (R - SC) weird press conference-slash-confession of adultery.

What I'm asking of you, dear reader, is to put aside your judgment of the man's actions for just a minute, because my focus here is not so much on his misdeed, but on our collective reaction to his press conference.

On this everyone agrees: Sanford's rambling explanations of his disappearance and, um, ignoble actions were unscripted and unrehearsed. What he said came from something close to his heart. It was sincere, unflattering and almost embarrassingly foolish.

On this most of the talking heads agree: He's a f*#king moron for saying all that stuff without a script and without rehearsing it and without having his dearly beloved wife standing behind him.

NPR had an interview with one of the dudes who helped Clinton script and rehearse his explanations for allowing an intern to fellate him on numerous occasions. And this guy kind of mocks Sanford for getting up in front of reporters and speaking from his wacked-out screwed-up poorly-organized heart rather than the trite mea culpa whilst the humiliated spouse stands quietly in the background showing symbolic support for her moron husband.

We live in a world where Jon and Kate announce in front of cameras their intention to divorce, but hold off on allowing the general public to know of their intentions for months so that their "revelation" can occur as a part of their television series. They hide and delay the truth so that the truth can be televised in a more dramatic and revenue-generating fashion.

We live in a world where Adam Lambert can't or won't or shouldn't admit or acknowledge that he's as gay as Zorro's blade until after the American Idol season has concluded because it might mess with the voting? Because it would hurt ratings? It only matters that there were reasons that people in charge knew it was better to be deceptive or misleading rather than acknowledge truth.

We live in a world where politicians seem to script every single breath they take. The more scripted and planned, the more likely the public will eat it up. We know this is true because each successive POTUS seems better and better at scripting, plotting, orchestrating rather than just doing. I can hardly believe it, but Obama is even better-scripted and better "on message" than Bush.

The more important someone is culturally, the less genuine we want them to be. We only want them to be able to act genuine. We want them adaptable and malleable, adjustable like ladders and sweatpants.

As for judging Sanford, I'm totally cool with it. He opened the door a good bit by throwing big stones at others previously in his shoes. Further, it's tough to argue with the logic that Gov. Sanford baldly neglected his duties as governor by disappearing without letting his staff (or family) know where he was.

And maybe this whole "honesty" thing is a hair-splitting matter in the big scheme of things. But somehow Sanford's confession makes him feel more human to me than Clinton's, or John Edwards' or Jim Bakker's, or... well, the list goes on. Does it make him less guilty or less responsible or any such thing? No. But it feels more real.

And dammit, shouldn't that somehow count for something?


BeckEye said...

I totally agree. I actually find it really annoying when celebs are forced to apologize for some inane thing that they've done, when you know they probably aren't really sorry in the first place. What good is an apology if the person giving it doesn't mean it?

Billy said...

OK, a little update. Our governor is doing more interviews and offering more details.

At some point, complete disclosure over the course of several interviews begins to feel a little bit... soap-opera? Like he's just gotta be out there in front of cameras telling the story over and over?

You cried. You admitted it. Let's leave the rest between you and your women. We don't have a right to any more information, and you shouldn't be giving it.

Bob said...

You go, Al Franken!!!!

Daisy said...

This makes me just a little bit less sad to no longer be a South Carolina resident.

Tockstar said...

I'm still waiting for BOTG to tackle Jon and Kate - people focus on the adultry, but it's such a delicious tale of fame and moral decline. Of course, I think the air has gone out of their sails a bit. MJ had some nerve to die just after they announced their divorce.