Saturday, January 28, 2006

Pure speculation

I am very interested by the kerfuffle about James Frey's pseudomemoir. To take the most objective view of this, what does it matter? Sure it's offensive to be lied to, but what he has now admitted to lying about really doesn't matter much; I haven't read the book, and even if it were true it wouldn't appeal to me. The excerpts I've seen appear to be appallingly badly written--overheated, self-congratulatory, and dealing primarily in caricatures and stereotypes. It's also pretty insignificant stuff: recovery porn, presumably redeemed by being true, but ultimately of no more value than "Behind the Music" or those innumerable unsolved crime shows on TV.

Yet people are outraged. For that matter, I'm outraged.

But why?

This is just a theory, and I don't expect I'll ever know the truth of it, but maybe people are mad because they are so tired of being lied to. As Josh Marshall pointed out yesterday,

What is the point is this line from President Bush from yesterday's press conference: "You know, I, frankly, don't even remember having my picture taken with the guy. I don't know him."

That's just one small example, but the only way to avoid hearing at least one lie a day from Bush is to avoid hearing him say anything.

So enter James Frey, telling lies in a world where people have heard enough. Where the so-called liberal media can step up and show that they can, after all, recognize a lie and challenge the liar. So they land on the odious James Frey and ignore the real malefactors. It's like a morality play: the liar is caught, exposed, and shamed, and all's right with the world.

Except Bush and his lackeys (or is he the lackey?) lie to us every day, and the so-called journalists do nothing about it.


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