I've been following with interest the unmasking of JT Leroy
and The Smoking Gun's investigation of James Frey
. I have read neither, but as soon as I saw the mug shot of Frey, I thought, holy shit, it's an overgrown frat boy! Criminal my ass.
He reminded me of the kids I met in Seattle, some of whom were older than me, but were still so focused on being the cool hipster who's down with the minorities and the poor people that they forgot they were really overprivileged brats. I would have liked them so much better if they had just been comfortable with themselves, but they seemed pretty hellbent on proving that they were down and real and never letting you forget it. I bet he talked himself into believing the things he wrote. Why be so insecure?
But anyway, so I've been thinking about what these people are trying to get out of lying the way they do, and there's some discussion about how their "authenticity" (or lack thereof) destroys people's enjoyment of their actual writing. But shouldn't the writing speak for itself? If you didn't know the real story, would you find their writing to be as compelling? From what little I've read of Frey's work, I think he wants to be Chuck Palahniuk, but there is only one Palahniuk.
I think I hate "authenticity". I like fake things - I like going shopping, I like visiting tourist spots, I like Disneyland and I like reading about outrageous things that aren't real because they give me an escape from reality. I don't understand everyone else's quest for the nitty-gritty or the fucked-up; to me that only seems like misery. I hate it when people have preconceived notions of what the "real world" should be because I got that lecture all the time when I was a kid, and you know what? Real is banal; it's boring, and there's no better way to escape it than reading some fantasy novel or going somewhere new and exciting.
That isn't to say that I like dumb things, or that I prefer fake things all the time. I just wonder about how obsessed people seem to be with attaining the authority of authenticity that they forget who they really are in the process.
Dammit, where is Mark? I need food.