I can’t count how many posts I’ve written on Catfish, which I suppose would have to be called my favorite tv show right now. The last 2 shows on Netflix I’ve watched are Inventing Anna and Bad Vegan. There’s something about that…a pattern…
Bad Vegan was the account of a fancy vegan restaurant in New York City. Mostly, it was the account of it’s owner Sarma, her striking rise and equally striking downfall that landed her in prison for a few minutes. It was also the account of her husband Shane (or Anthony,) who was maybe insane or maybe just a lying fraud. I guess it’s possible he was just misunderstood, was actually fighting evil forces and was totally going to make Sarma and her dog immortal once the fight was over. For the first 2 episodes, I wondered how a brilliant business-woman could be duped by such an obvious con. But during the last 2, I wondered how I was duped by such an obvious con for 2 episodes.
One of my favorite things to say to my sons is, “You can’t possibly expect me to believe this – I’m not one of your dumb little buddies.” It’s condescending and rude, I explain, to assume I am the kind of person who is so incapable of reason and intelligent thought that I would accept the excrement you’re shoveling.
But maybe I am that kind of person. Sarma assumed I am exactly that kind of person, too. She also assumed you are, and so is everyone we know. And I DID buy it for 2 episodes!!!!
Whatever, I don’t really care about Sarma, her marriage, restaurant or her immortality. What’s interesting is how the vast majority of the things I like have everything to do with identity; who we are and the bizarre ways we contort ourselves to portray characters different than the ones we truly are.
I pastor a church and the main problem we all have with churches and the people in them is what we call hypocrisy. In the Bible, the word is an acting term, so calling me a hypocrite is exactly like saying I’m an actor, playing different roles for different audiences. This isn’t a phenomenon exclusive to the church. In fact, the harshest words in the Bible are reserved for these actors, it seems it’s not just our main problem. I spend tons of time on Sunday mornings talking about authenticity, being fully present as we are – instead of holding up this exhausting facade.
I bet this is so important to me, and why I gravitate to this sort of art, because I spent an inordinate amount of my life pretending to be someone else, someone cooler, more capable, smarter, more awesome. Once I was able to begin to set some of this baggage down and walk around as simply me, it felt light, airy, and wonderful, and I desperately wanted that for everyone.
Then of course I’d pick the baggage up again, and see the worst parts of me in that million-part Anna series and Catfish and in the kids in the high school where I work, and become overwhelmingly frustrated with them. That’s probably why I can’t stand hypocrisy, isn’t it? Because I just can’t seem to stop myself from acting.