Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"A Third Kind Of Truth"

I began with “Received Truth”, truth based on the information we were presented, to the exclusion of the information that we weren’t. I proceeded to “Invented Truth”, truth fabricated to exploit a fact, but which itself is of questionable veracity.

Today: “Buried Truth.”

A while back, I was listening to a sports call-in show, at the time when Tiger Woods was having his difficulties. The caller I happened to tune in to sounded personally hurt. He berated Tiger for betraying his trust and the trust of all his loyal fans, by presenting one image of himself to the public, while, in truth, he was behaving in an entirely scummier way.

The sports show’s host was unsympathetic, braying something very close to, “Listen, pal. This happens more often than you realize. I know for a fact that there was this beloved golfer, one of the all-time greats, who was known to anyone close to the game to be unquestionably the biggest hound on the entire tour.”

Your first thought, naturally, is “Who?” But when the host was not forthcoming with the dirt, my mind immediately moved on to the second thought.

This is a classic example of “Buried Truth.”

Understand. “Hounds” is not the issue. That’s between the hound and their loved ones. This is about a hidden reality we knew nothing about, prodding the uncomfortable suspicion that we have no idea what’s actually going on.


“Buried Truth” is hardly just a sports phenomenon. During the “Studio System”, every movie studio boasted a powerful “P.R.” department, whose assignment, at least as important as promoting the product, was protecting reputations – covering up romantic entanglements, misbehaviors with furry animals, masking the gender preferences of cinematic heartthrobs.

With the studio system long gone, the actors now pay for these services themselves, spending huge dollars for “Crisis Management.” The cover-up seems to work, though I can’t say for sure, because, when a cover-up works, you don’t have any proof. Since most of our stars appear to be leading reputable lives, I’m thinking it works.

Of course, none of this really matters. It’s protecting reputations. So they bury the truth about celebrities. Who cares?

Okay. But this one is different.

Consider the scandal surrounding John Edwards.

Not a revered golf icon who messes around, but the potential Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Who messes around. Though messing around is not the issue. It’s the colossal damage the “Buried Truth” of Edwards’ misbehavior could have inflicted on an unsuspecting nation.

We all know the story. Now. Edwards – poking a woman who isn’t his wife, and there’s a baby, and then he forces an aide to pretend he’s the father – I mean, we know the trouble Clinton got into, and that was just a dress and a cigar.

“Clinton-Lewinsky” was a national catastrophe. The government was brought to a standstill. The president was on the brink of resigning or getting kicked out. It makes no difference whether these actions should matter that much. We know, in this country, they do.

If John Edwards had been nominated, or even worse, elected president, it would have been really, really bad. And who would have been responsible for that debacle? John Edwards, of course. But also

“The Buried Truth.”

(I find it not possible to move on without taking a passing swipe at the media, who, with the exception of the National Enquirer, completely missed the story.)

There are other kinds of truth, which I’ll simply list, because I’ve tested your patience quite enough.

There’s “Manipulated Truth”, which may be fragmentarily true, but is presented as entirely true. Think “stereotyping.”

There’s “Managed Truth” – propaganda – where all truths but one are deliberately banished from our ears.

There’s “Polite Truth” – “Great haircut!” – a falsehood serving as truth to spare people’s feelings.

There’s “Mistaken Truth” – “The world is flat”, “You can’t go swimming till an hour after you eat” – we thought we knew the truth, but we didn't.

There’s the harmless but effective “Truth In Advertising”, where information is artistically assembled to whet consumer’s appetites.

There’s “Manipulative Truth” – “‘Hooters Girl’ is a worthy profession”, a truth specifiically designed to get you a “Hooters Girl.”

There’s “Self-Deceiving Truth” – “That ‘Hooters Girl’ line can’t miss!”

And, of course, there’s the scariest truth of all, “Lying Truth”, truth based on no facts whatsoever, promoted as truth through vigorous repetition by “respected members of society.” That one can result in entire ethnic groups disappearing from the planet.

There are probably other truths as well, which I’ll think of after I publish. “Religious Truth”, which I won’t go into, other than to say, it seems to depend on the religion. Ditto for “Cultural Truth.”

The real, actual truth? The “Take it to the bank” truth? The truth you can count on? The truth you can trust?

Well, there’s sports scores from games that have already been played. Those seem pretty reliable. Other than that

I’m still looking.
To the reader who inquired: My colonoscopy went okay. But I've been advised to have another one in a year. My preference as to when to have another one would be never. So there's a discrepancy. We'll see what happens.


PG said...

How about 'relative truth'? It all depends on who is telling the story? How they see it? The people may even mean well. Ironically, this often comes up with actual relatives. And food.
Keep looking and let us know when you find it.

Julian said...

Part of my job is looking at databases of old sports scores.

I hate to break it to you, but they are full of errors and inconsistencies. Even getting two different sources to agree on the names of the players involved is a stretch.

You'll need to keep looking for truth you can count on...

A. Buck Short said...

Can’t believe you of all people left out To Tell the Truth hosted by Bud Collyer and later by Garry Moore and Bill Cullen. (“Will the real future host of The Price is Right please stand up?”). And of course, the ultimate Truth or Consequences hosted by Ralph Edwards, Jack Bailey and finally Bob Barker. (No, I’m sorry, the correct answer is “The worst thing in the world is to be voted runner up on Queen for a Day with Jack Bailey – you’ve gone through a rough patch and suffered almost as many emotional and financial hardships as the woman crowned (and robed) but you get none of the prizes.” Could have really used that washer-dryer. Such a letdown I can’t understand why the winner wasn’t always the runner up from the previous week’s show?) Today’s question: “Queen for a Day,” game show, reality show before it’s time, or both? We’ll register your level of truthfulness on the applause meter.

As for relative truth PG, you’ve obviously never met my second cousin Marty. God’s honest truth, I’ve never been to Hooters, but still can’t understand why my wife won’t let me take her there for Mothers Day?

T or F? I am apparently constitutionally unable to resist this type of usurpation of your personal blog space -- but that's still marginally tolerable?