More fake than Photoshop? Discussion

It’s so easy to look at humanity and feel we are all wearing masks. Some are more obvious than others: Meghan Trainor instantly comes to mind. I’m convinced her songs are written by the same kind of people who wrote the “gnarly” show Rocket Power. She’s built to appeal to focus groups and the most basic of ideas—good, positive ideas, sure, but they’re not “Meghan Trainor” they’re “What’s Trending on Twitter.” Even though she sings about body positivity, feminism, and self love, all things I agree on, something about her feels so fake—maybe it’s that she’s fighting tooth and nail to appear genuine.

When she took down her video recently because she was photoshopped, didn’t it feel like she only did it because it’s the cool thing to do, or because one of her songs bashed photoshop and she would’ve been criticized otherwise? It felt like a group of advisers discussed the best course of action for her. Maybe they even photoshopped her on purpose, so they could make a big deal about undoing it later.

But, honestly, we normal people aren’t much better. We all put on a show, 24/7. Hell, that’s why I like being alone so much, so I can act like myself without being judged by others, so I don’t have to “act” at all anymore. When my sister pretends to trip over her own feet or sing overly badly to seem quirky in front of her friends, it seems almost like manipulation…but I’ve also lied about having seen The Shawshank Redemption so my film major friends didn’t think I was lame, so I’m no better. I think we’ve all lied about having done this or not liked that or so on and so forth.

Code-switching is interesting too—when people talk or act different based on who’s around them. This is fascinating, and familiar to any kid who ever had a rowdy friend over before you were allowed to swear around your parents.

I don’t really know what to think about this. I get annoyed at this sort of acting but everyone does it, including me. What do you guys think? Is introversion enhanced by how tiresome acting is? Do you believe Meghan Trainor’s punchy activism, or do you think it’s born of a focus group? Do you think this acting is useless, or a vital part of a functioning society? I’m curious, because I don’t know what to think. This is a big, difficult topic, but it’s one we can have a good conversation about.


4 thoughts on “More fake than Photoshop? Discussion

  1. I am always me.
    However that said, the professional me, edits the personal me, frequently.
    I don’t talk politics or religion on my blog or at my “job.” It’s not smart to alienate people you need to work with.
    Does that make me fake? I don’t think so. I just don’t open my mouth when I can’t add something substantiative to the situation.

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  2. I think this sort of “faking” makes us likeable, thus enhancing a group feeling, a sense of belonging. Myself, I spent a long time faking I was interested in hearing my friends discuss Game Of Thrones, constantly reassuring them that I would definitely go and watch it one day, never ever intending to. But for me it felt like being an outsider if I were to not engage in their enthusiasm.
    As for Meghan, I am too old to wonder too much about people in showbizz. She’s a great singer and I love how she’s not super thin and seems comfortable in her own skin, but your take on it here reminds me of Beyoncé’s new album on which she apparently disses her husband. And how Jay-Z wrote a new one as well in reply to his wife’s, while they appear to have worked through their marital troubles, or at least that’s how they portray themselves to the public. I reckon everything in showbusiness is fake, everything is done in order to up sales and gain popularity.
    In which case lying to your friends or study mates about having seen a particular film/series is not so bad 🙂

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  3. You could say we’re all acting most of the time. Psychosynthesis says we have a number of ‘subpersonalities’, each of which has its own characteristic ways of behaving, like your ‘masks’. Maybe the most important task in life is to get beyond that and find our true selves that underlie them – the real inner you.

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  4. I think you’re right that we tend to be mindful of how we present ourselves to people. We not only do it in social situations so that we can be accepted by those we don’t think will accept us as our full selves, but we also do it professionally. For instance, one reason I fail at a lot of job interviews is because I like to be completely honest about myself, which is something you don’t want to do when you’re attempting to sell yourself to a potential employer (this is also what makes me a terrible salesman: honesty). This is also why I’ve never had a date. Presenting yourself truthfully in your initial talks with someone you’re attracted to is not a very good idea. Trust me on that one.

    There’s a reason we are constantly told to “put your best foot forward” and that “first impressions are the most important,” and this is because we are far more judgmental than we wish to believe we are. As an exercise, the next time you see a person for the first time, ask yourself if you’re judging that book by its cover. Are you judging the person’s eyes? Nose? Hair? Clothes? Make-up? Skin color?

    So yeah, we judge… a lot. We accept what’s appealing to us and reject what isn’t appealing. This is why a celebrity such as Meghan Trainor tries her hardest (either her or the people talking in her ear) to be as appealing to as many people as possible. Of course, the harder you try, the more fake you’ll seem. Just ask Hillary Clinton or any other politician that says one thing to one group of people and then another thing to another group. They’re trying to appeal to a lot of people at once, and we know that it’s not possible to appeal to everyone or be loved by everyone. This is why I believe Taylor Swift is so popular; she’s herself and speaks her mind and people (including me) love her for that.

    On a more personal level, I tend to be a different person around different people, but not as a way to get them to accept me, rather, as a way to help them feel more comfortable so that they’ll open up to me and be more of themselves. I don’t argue with people I disagree with on sensitive matters like religion or politics because I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t or shouldn’t share their perspective with me. I like hearing different perspectives, so tailoring myself to another person is how I connect with them on their terms, allowing for more effective communication with them. This is probably why I’m not a viable candidate for a relationship with someone: there’s no drama with me (people seem to enjoy having drama in their lives).

    So, I do wear a lot of masks, and I’m not myself with anyone except myself. Actually, I think I wear a mask with myself as well. I mean, I can’t say that even when I’m alone that no one judges me. I judge me, probably more than anyone else, which is how I can be surprised when someone tells me how they look at me and I’m fully shocked by their more positive view.

    By the way, there are some things that I’ve become honest about when I’m around people. Entertainment is one of those things. Like you, there was a time when I would say I’ve seen a movie when I actually haven’t seen it. Now, however, entertainment isn’t something I take serious enough to tell that lie. I readily admit to people what I have and haven’t seen and I also talk about the bad movies that I enjoy watching. I’m sad that Paul W.S. Anderson isn’t going to be making anymore Resident Evil movies. There, I said it. That’s one bit of advice I have for you. To free yourself just a tiny bit, go ahead and be honest with people when it comes to entertainment. After all, entertainment isn’t something we need to take very seriously. For example, I think Jem and the Holograms is a much better film than Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But that’s just my opinion and, when someone hears that, we can both have a laugh about it and the reasons as to why. 🙂

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