"My name is Stephen Glass, fired from the world renowned magazine The New Republic for screwing with every journalistic ethic that exists."
This is just one character that our show 'Life is Too Good to be True' examines. We have just brought the show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and hope to confront a new audience with Stephen Glass' claim, speaking in a group-therapy session, that, 'We are all big, fat liars and we do want to know where this all comes from'. Glass infamously fabricated most of his news stories, and would have us all believe that a pathological liar lurks within us all.
So, is he right? Are we all big, fat liars? Certainly this is not our self-perception. This is what our show hopes to explore by confronting the everyday falsehoods that have become so integral to our society
It is easy to say that our everyday lives are far removed from the scientist falsifying his data, the doping athlete, the job applicant who has adjusted his C.V, and, perhaps most pertinently, the tabloid press turning the screws. But in today's global society, these occurrences seem to happen with alarming frequency, and they touch more and more people's lives.
What's more, some would argue that we are not just affected by the growing lies, but perhaps driving them. Stephen Glass claimed, 'My fabricated stories seemed to speak to our mutual longing for sensational and groundbreaking news'.
Is it our hunger for drama and intrigue within our everyday lives that fuels this phenomenon? Have we created The News of the World? After all, we may not be hiding a Stephen Glass in our heads, but we all send out doctored C.Vs, and we all are constantly composing and re-composing our Facebook and Linkedin identities. We wish to present our best identity to the world, and so perform a character that is the best possible version of ourselves, sometimes with a little dramatic license. For example, somehow while working, researching and performing this show around the world, it struck us how our collective need to perform well seems to disrupt our sense of reality on small and larger scales. The pressure on us to succeed is similar to the pressure everyone experiences to succeed in their lives overall. Perhaps this is because we don't live in societies with clear-cut class boundaries. Now, when you fail you cannot blame your upbringing, when you don't succeed, it's your own fault.
Other characters that we bring to our stage in 'Life is too good to be true' are Barbara Erhrenreich (a scientist and self proclaimed Pop sociologist) and Pop Icon Lady Gaga. The first is famous for railing against the 'positive thinking industry' that, according to her, places too great an emphasis on this for the treatment of cancer-patients. She calls this "not always helpful and often cruel". The second recently started her own 'Born This Way Foundation', and proclaims that she creates all her performances, concert-tours, albums, and videos to provide her fans with a safe space in the world. She wants to embody the message that her fans can create their own reality. These are further examples of fabricating too-good-to-be-true worlds.
Journalistic scandal, pink ribbons, and the rise of the Fame Monster. A blog entry is too short to do a thorough cultural analysis of how reality is enacted today, but we do know our show is a great and fun way to meditate on all this and, in a light-hearted way, examine your own life for things that might be too good to be true.
Life is Too Good To Be True Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Underbelly 2-13 August @ 11.35