Sunday, December 31, 2017

Lazy Sunday # 503: Fake News

According to several media reports, "Fake News" is the most hated phrase of 2017. Mostly, I would presume, by members of the media.

I'm not exactly sure when I started ingesting news reports with a grain of salt. But it might've been near the start of my acting career, when a play I was in garnered a less than glowing review from a prestigious newspaper. I asked the show's director if there might be some truth in what the critic had written.

His response was along the lines of -- "Kid, I don't believe what they put on the front page. Why should I take anything in the entertainment section seriously?".

It might've been the first time I considered that journalists might not be telling me the truth.

And after decades of seeing films and TV shows I was involved in depicted as something they weren't, misquoted, flat out lied about and spun to favor competition that bought more ad space, I can tell you that in my experience news is often fake.

What's more, if you spend any time in the company of journalists and get enough drinks into them, many will freely admit to tales they've completely made up. Sometimes they're those speculative headlined pieces based on suspicion rather than fact and intended to do little more than pull in a few more readers or viewers.

Sometimes, they're floating fictional balloons to try to get somebody upset enough to confirm or deny whatever they can't nail down on their own.

And sometimes, like everyone of us, they simply misinterpret what they've seen with their own eyes.

Any cop will tell you how unreliable eye-witnesses can be. People witnessing the same bank robbery will claim there were anywhere from one to five robbers, dressed in suits or camo gear, armed or unarmed and from a variety of races.

It's apparently just the way the human brain works. In stressful situations, we not only take in what our senses are telling us, but are simultaneously spinning through some internal card file of possible options, outcomes and explanations while constructing a story of what happened should we be required to explain it to someone.

In other words, pretty much every anecdote in our personal story file is, from its inception, a turd we're already polishing to make it more dramatic or funnier or show ourselves in a different light.

To be clear, everything we see or read has already been coated with a small patina of "fake".

How else do you explain the inhabitants of Canadian filmmaker Jay Cheel's documentary "Twisted", which explores events that either did or did not take place at the St Catherine's Can-View Drive-In in 1996?

Some of what follows is fake -- but what?

Enjoy Your Sunday...

TWISTED from Jay Cheel on Vimeo.

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