“You’re a fraud and you know it, but it’s too good to throw it all away. Anyone would do the same. You’ve got them going and you’re careful not to show it. Sometimes you even fool yourself. It’s like magic but it’s always been a smoke and mirrors game, anyone would do the same”.
–Smoke and Mirrors by Gotye(not as popular as Somebody That I Used To Know, but equally as good)
Gotye hit’s the nail on the head here. The popularity of MTV’s new hit show, Catfish, is a true testament to our proclivities towards hiding behind smoke and mirrors as well as being absolutely paranoid by it. Why do we find ourselves hopelessly engrossed every Monday night as Nev (and co.) finds a hopeless romantic who wants to meet the love of their life only to find that said love of their life is 20+ years older than expected, or 100lbs heavier than they appeared online, or the opposite sex, or sexually confused? Well, for starters, it makes great television. You can’t help but make a drinking game out of it (1 shot if revealed person is an unexpected gender, 2 shots if the episode ends with a happy ending, 3 shots if you guess the whole scenario correctly – She’s in love with a man who’s actually a woman, with two kids). But honestly, we’re drawn to it because as a culture we are obsessed with fakes. Fake boobs, fake television, fake celebrities, fake orgasms, fake stories, fake this, fake that. Obsessed.
This month alone we’ve seen national news stories revolving around fakers. Beyonce lip-synched her presidential inauguration performance of the Star Spangled Banner. Gasp! Were you really that surprised when you found out? Even Obama was skeptical. WHO CARES? Why are we fascinated by people (even ourselves) getting duped? Personally, I think we like to play martyrs. We can’t help but to feel so betrayed by these fakers. Look at us! We’re victims! Don’t you feel bad for us? But really, the question is- would we rather live in ignorance? While I was in bed watching the Inauguration I had nothing but praise for Queen B. So did the rest of the Twittersphere (at least on my timeline). Not even before the inauguration ended, news broke that she had, in fact lip-synched and everyone became a critic. Seriously? Yo, haters – about a millisecond ago you were worshipping the ground she walks on. Did it make a difference that she lip-synched? No. Do we care? We really shouldn’t.
Now enter Manti Te’o. Thanks to deadspin.com’s investigative journalism, the whole world learned how Te’o got hoodwinked by some rando pretending to be his longtime, seriously in love girlfriend who supposedly passed away. What resulted was a football player who was emotionally prompted to become a leader, a great player, in the face of adversity. He went on to lead his Notre Dame team to and undefeated regular season – but we won’t talk about the Rosebowl. So yeah, it sucks that Te’o got legitimately PUNK’d (and not the cute Ashton Kutcher way), but when all is said in done, it’s over. What can you do? Why are we making a big deal of it?
Now from Beyonce to Notre Dame football, lets talk MLB. For a long ass time now, the world of pro baseball has been marred by PEDs (for you dummies, thats Performance Enhancing Drugs to you – not the tiny socks you wear). For San Franciscans, it’s been a pretty difficult relationship with our accused players. We have Barry Bonds (arguably, but in my humble opinion, should be HOF’er) who admitted to using steroids. Some fans dropped off of the Bonds bandwagon, some held on tightly – long enough to see him revamp himself, lose some lbs, and turn into a better man. That Barry. Last year the SF Giants also had a few other PED scandals, including All Star MVP, Melky Cabrera. San Franciscans fell in love with him for his bat, the whole MELK MEN/MAN thang, and the fact that he couldn’t speak english pretty good (When he was interviewed after accepting his MVP trophy whilst sitting in his sparkly new car with his mom and grandma, the announcer asked him, “Who are these two women with you Melky?” To which Melky responds, “THANK YOU FANS”…awkward. Yeah, Cabrera English, no good.) Despite the fact that he put up the numbers for the SF Giants and was a fan favorite, he quickly became invisible once he was charged with using PEDs. Fans threw away their Melky shirts, their Melk Maid and Melk Man costumes. Obviously we didn’t like him that much anyways. In my house Melky Cabrera became “He who must not be named”, in fear that it would bring up bad feelings (and by bad, I mean real bad. I’ve cried for Barry Zito during his low points and have screamed at my TV and cursed out Santiago Casillas while he warmed up in the bullpen). To say I get emotional over baseball is truly an understatement. **UPDATE: Add A-Rod to the list of PED’ers***
As a culture, why are we so fascinated by fakers? I go back to my previous question: Would we rather live in ignorance? Was Kid Cudi onto something when he said, “ignorance is bliss?”. What if the people on Catfish were better off thinking they fell in love with a 25 year old male model who has a heart of gold? Maybe it would be better if we didn’t know Beyonce lip synched, or Lance Armstrong did steroids, or baseball players in general do steroids. If we turn a blind eye long enough maybe the world would be a better place and we wouldn’t have to deal with the heart break, the scandal, the betrayal etc.
Why the process of unveiling fakers and uncovering fraud in our culture is important:
We should reevaluate who we put up on a pedestal. Are the athletes, business people, artists we admire really GOOD people? Or do we just like them because everyone else seems to?
Likewise, we need to make our own opinions. Rather than following popular opinion, or going with the majority, we need to stray from the homogenized body and decide for ourselves… is this person really MY idol? What do I, personally, think of this?
Investigative journalism rules. We are submersed in the Internet, social media, etc. This is the first time in history that we see breaking stories unfolding in front of us through the use of tools such as Twitter, Facebook, and live feeds.
We like to be victims. As I said before, some of us love being martyrs. Let’s play the blame game?
We’re all faking it. In one way or another we’re all frauds (even if its just a little bit – like, that little white lie on your resume?) Thus, we want to see others get faked out or how they do it. We just laugh because it isn’t us in that situation. And WHOOMP! There it is.