Monday, January 30, 2006

everything i say is true

Its time for the Center of the Universe to weigh in on this James Frey dilemma. Now, you all know that most of the time I couldn't give a shit about what is happening in the world because its just not as important as me ME me and my life, natch. However, this "freygate"* thing has got my panties in a bunch and its time to pick the wedgie.

James Frey is a liar and I don't give a fuck.

That's right America, he lied-ly lied eyed pied and I couldn't care less. In fact, what has bunched up the said undergarments of mine is not that the man lied but that everyone is so damn upset about it. What is wrong with you people?

Perhaps I am lucky in the fact that during my formative college years I took a class called "English Biographies", which yes, was rather dull, except for the day we discussed Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians.

In this book Strachey took it upon himself to assassinate the characters of some of the most respected people of the Victorian era, Florence Nightengale among them. Now I myself have never been a huge fan of Flo, ever since my fifth grade teacher made fun of my altruistic gestures by calling me "A little Florence Nightengale!" and then grinning when the whole class joined her in laughter. Little fucking fifth grade assholes. So when Strachey gets all snarky and sarcastic over Flo's so-called achievements, I'm gleefully joining in the fun.

See, the point of this little book is NOT the truth about their lives, its the lies. The point isn't the bias itself, but why the bias was there. Its the conversation Strachey is having with the people around him about who and how they choose their heroes. The bias said to me- look at how all these people hero-worship Florence Nightengale and she was a hypochondriac bitch in real life! Ha ha, that's funny! Guess what else? Biography isn't necessarily true!

My first thought when the "Frey Lied!! News at 11!!" story came out was, who cares? As Strachey and I know, the art of biography is very often not at all about the truth.

However, the more I thought about it, the more I grew uneasy. The thing about Frey is that what is true for Strachey's book is not true for his. Strachey's lies reveal truth and Frey lies make a better story.

I was talking about this the other night with MKD and AP and MKD mentioned Milli Vanilli. She pointed out that no matter if they didn't really sing it, "Blame it on the Rain" was an awesome song. I said it was winning an award for that song that was morally wrong. And James Frey is a best-selling author for a book that contains lies.

I thought I had myself a real conundrum. Frey is no Strachey and Milli Vanilli did not deserve their Grammy, so does Frey deserve his fame and fortune? And then I remembered that Milli Vanilli did not write a MEMOIR. A memoir is a story about a life! A story is meant to be interesting to read! NO ONE'S LIFE IS ACTUALLY INTERESTING WITHOUT SOME EDITING-- as it turns out, even an alcoholic, crack addict, blood vomiting life.

All of this media crap about the culture of truth or the moral implications of Frey are shocking to me. The fact that no one has stood up and said, "yeah, but isn't the very act of writing a memoir an act of revision and fictionalization?" is shocking to me. Holocaust denial literature is shocking to me. But a man who made up some bits while telling the story of his life?

I mean, this is news?

* Whoever thought this up should be shot.