Every day in our societies we seem to be moving ever closer to the line between what is real and what is imaginary. For all the ‘Fake News’ which is manufactured, is basically just reporting events in a manner which ‘supports’ the writer’s stance or opinion, and the network media companies countering this ‘fake news’ with their own ‘fake news’ (sorry for the repetition, I just wanted to make a point).
When we couple this with the projection all around us, of the lives we lead, and the lives which we are ‘supposed to live’, then it is easy to question where one ends and the other begins.
The recent story of an actor in America who ‘set up’ a hate crime has added to the fuel of the debate.
The actor (who I had never heard of prior to this), named Jussie Smollet (where do these strange names keep appearing from?) , one of the stars of a music drama named ‘Empire’ reported that on his was back from getting something to eat at around 2am, he was attacked by 2 masked men who screamed racial obscenities at him, poured some type of chemical over his face, and put a noose around his neck, all while screaming “this is MAGA country” (Make America Great Again, which is Donald Trump’s call to arms).
When the news broke in the mainstream media, many were outraged that something like this could happen in this day and age (why are they surprised? or is this, the norm in the USA, with the method being slightly out-of-the norm, and the outrage being is to gather press?). How could a young successful black actor be subject to this kind of vitriol in a major liberal city?
In the weeks following, and after the many interviews conducted with him on national TV, certain facts came to light, which in conjunction with his behaviour started raising doubt in people’s minds.
The main thing which cast doubt in the minds of the most was the following interview which was given to a mainstream new outlet.
This interview left a vast number of viewers feeling that it lacked sincerity and that he spent too much time defending himself, and that, at 2am in the morning in subzero-temperatures, that 2 racists would be prowling the streets near subway, looking for someone to racially attack. 1st doubt. It is also known that he is gay, but this was not really a factor, and there were no homophobic slurs levelled at him. 2nd doubt. It was also discovered over time that the ‘2 attackers’ were actually ‘black’ and associates of his. 3rd doubt.
They were eventually picked up by the Police, and told admitted that they ‘had been paid’ by the actor to ‘stage’ the attack to boost his credibility. 4th doubt. I would add at this point that the ‘tears’ were so obviously false, but crying on TV is a part of American culture, so I cannot add this to my list of ‘doubts.’
As the weeks went on, it became known that the attack was ‘staged’ as an attempt to force a salary increase and also to boost his profile (it is said that he was being written out of the show he was starring in), and to keep him in the public eye.
The background to this blog is about the blurred lines between reality and fantasy, encroaches on all of our lives. This man was quite willing to create an illusion in the full glare of the public (I won’t say ‘The American Public’ because I know who they are, only they need to remind themselves) which, if discovered, would do much more damage to his life, both working, and private, than any lapse in his status would.
This kind of thing happens every day in America, because, unfortunately, ‘being famous’ is now everything, and has reached epidemic proportion. It is also spreading to other countries around the world. If you turn on your TV, go on the internet, you will see overwhelming evidence of the lines being blurred. What is real is no longer of any significance to us as a society, it is more about exposure and entertainment. The rise of the ‘reality’ show is a clear demonstration of this.
I really do hope that this trend reverses, before irreparable damage is done.