By David Anderson
A friend of mine posted the other day on Facebook a conversation she’d overheard from her boy’s bedroom as they dressed for the day. One had slipped his Buzz Lightyear sweatshirt over his head whereupon the other, observing him, said, “I wish I had a Buzz shirt, but I AM wearing my Buzz Lightyear underwear today!”
After breakfast no doubt the boys set out, appropriately costumed, to conquer their imaginary world.
Would that childhood was where playing ‘Let’s Pretend’ ended and that it were not enacted over and over again in today’s world.
“USA Today” is reporting that cycling star Lance Armstrong will appear in an interview with Oprah Winfrey when he plans to admit to doping throughout his storied career. Absolutely adamant, vehement even, that he never, not ever, used banned performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions during his cycling career, the 41-year-old winner of seven Tour de France titles has decided to drop the disguise and stop pretending.
One of the tongue-in-check dress-up outfits in this past Halloween’s catalogue for kids – right next to one in which children could pretend to be Big Bird – was an Armstrong cycling costume.
Even as Armstrong sped about on speed pretending legitimately to be rewriting cycling history, some bored bloggers evidently with nothing better to do – certainly an exercise regimen like Armstrong’s not their cup of tea – sat down and nonetheless brewed up their own story that parallel’s the cyclists’ now infamous claims. Turns out Wikipedia editors have unearthed a clever hoax concocted by certain ‘historians’ who recounted a battle that never happened – except in their imagination.
Maybe there is something in the coffee that this crazy culture’s been consuming. Clever disguises are being seen through.
Female singer Cindy Bullens – who toured with Elton John and Bob Dylan, and who has given birth to two daughters – has decided to stop pretending she’s a woman anymore and be the man she’s always imagined herself to be.
Transgendering the other direction is Jenna Talackova. Born a boy named Walter, Jenna forced her way over objections and onto the stage in this last year’s Miss Universe Canada, successfully competing as the woman he – or she – always imagined himself to be.
Lady Gaga, in town the evening of January 14, was here to kick off her “Born That Way” tour in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth. Gaga invited a local youth group as representative of what the star celebrity is about. But in the interest of integrity, the youth group should have declined Gaga’s invitation.
“Integrity,” writes Stephen L. Carter, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of law at Yale University, in a book by that title, “comes from the same Latin root as integer (conveying) the sense of wholeness, undivided, completeness”.
If Gaga’s message and mannerisms are anything, they do not reflect integrity. Gaga’s is a show.
We live in a post-Newtown-bloodbath America and Gaga will appear this summer in a blood-bath of a movie, rated ‘X’ for violence. That is the “kinder” world Gaga’s “Born That Way” has in mind?
Gaga is “unsubtle in message and dress” by which the celebrity communicates what – a role model for youth? One with which we’d want our youth to identify, to represent?
The messenger and the message of Gaga are disparate at best.
“Youth need champions and they learn to be champions through example,” said Tony Robinson at the Champions for Youth Breakfast in March of 2011.
Gaga is not a champion for youth any more than cycling star Lance Armstrong who did a lot of good raising money for cancer but will this week admit to doping during his storied career.
When people lack integrity, to get caught up in the hoopla is to have damaged our own.
Speaking of stages and spotlights and pretending to be someone else, appearing under the lights this coming February 24th will be the actors honored in the 85th Academy Awards for their re-enactments – facades and facsimiles – of people they’re not. “TheOscars (are) an absurd spectacle of remarkably successful people congratulating themselves for work that barely nudges at the borders of meaningful human achievement” – an apt description of Hollywood says New York Times guest columnist Adam Davidson.
The Oscars would simply be all so much glitz and glamour, just another night at the movies, were it not for what lies – and the lies – behind the curtain.
Nominated for five academy awards is “Amour,” a “twisted” recommendation indeedobserved one reviewer who wrote: “For the record, taking a pillow and smothering your spouse is never ever a loving act. It is the opposite of a loving act. But the movie wants us to believe that pushing the last breath out of someone you love is compassion and mercy and heroism. It isn’t. It is a failure in every way in which one person could fail another.”
With “Amour,” we’re no longer pretending. Life is ending because of the one taking, who – the cinema-creators would have you believe – is so-doing in an euthanasia-endorsing, brave-new-frontier-addressing, act of love: amour.
That Lance Armstrong ferociously denied doping while riding but now admits he did; that bored bloggers can brew – and even document – a believable re-enactment of a battle that never took place; that celebrities may be – or may not be – the gender they were born to be; that a messenger and her message do not match; that a movie is promoted in the industry as Academy-worthy but also, quite apparently, is advocating a life-ending philosophy – all says what exactly?
That we often are not in touch with reality; that we have an inexplicable tendency to choose wrongly; that we lack integrity.
That we’re just pretending.