Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lazy Sunday #369: Another Narrative At Play

This week I had the pleasure of seeing a wonderful new movie starring Al Pacino entitled “Danny Collins”.

Central to its plot is the difference between the life stories we tell and the realities of life itself.  Writer/Director Dan Fogelman confronts that from the film’s first frame with “This film is based on a true story –- a little bit”.

Any good story teller knows that any story changes according to imagination, personal bias and how you want to move your audience.

No writer fictionalizing a true story cleaves strictly to the facts. Facts get in the way. They complicate the flow of the narrative, hamper revelation of character, allow the audience to get ahead of you and generally screw up what could be a really great tale.

Journalists often hate their jobs because they are required to stick to the facts and as the man said, “Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense”.

And lately we’ve had a spate of high profile events where journalists opted for a really good story over telling the truth.

Ultimately, the tragedy of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri, was not a story of rogue cops and innocent victims. Yet many still recite the false “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” mantra.

Rolling Stone Magazine this week apologized for its Virginia State Fraternity Rape story after the Washington Post and other newspapers did the basic grunt work of their trade and found not only not a single shred of criminal evidence but plenty of proof that Rolling Stone’s editors had not done their jobs.

And yet that story is still up on the Rolling Stone website.

What these represent is the triumph of a narrative over a truth. Like any good conspiracy theory, a narrative that plays into our fears, our biases, our personal take on how the world works ultimately replaces reality. The narrative makes more sense to us than the harder and messier truth.

As an example -- many times every day, my social media feeds are filled with posts and reposts on GMO foods or climate change or secret government backroom deals that will eventually remove all of my human rights.

There may well be some truth to them. But I’ve been around long enough to know when somebody’s busily pushing my buttons. And that makes me ask “Who benefits most from this?”.

Some of you may dismiss the guy in the video that follows as just another corporate stooge paid to lie to you. But perhaps he is not. Perhaps he’s just somebody disturbing an accepted narrative with either some hard truths you don’t want to hear, or a side of the argument you’ve never experienced.

Give him a chance.

And Enjoy Your Sunday.

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