April 22nd, 2007

The Hoax

We went over to the Metro last night and saw The Hoax, which is the movie with Richard Gere playing the role of Clifford Irving during the Howard Hughes autobiography hoax. I remember the real event well, from the early seventies, so it was fun to see it recreated. And Gere did fine, as did the rest of the cast.

The issue that comes to mind, though, is a result of watching "Irving" being presented as a man totally uncommitted to speaking the truth, not to anyone. He not only will lie but lie outrageously. He has discovered that the people around him will believe any extremity, especially if it profits them (e.g., the whole McGraw, Hill & Co. leadership). What was especially interesting was how the movie showed Irving slowly becoming unable to distinguish his lies from the truth, how his imagination becomes visibly acted out on screen. He seems to lose his connection to reality and to start to believe that he is indeed the spokesman for Howard Hughes, regardless that he has never met the man. The movie even ends with the speculation that the whole thing was engineered by Hughes as a ploy to maintain control over Richard Nixon, and the result was in actual history the Watergate break in. I wonder if the audiences for the movie caught on that the final scenes were a perfect example of the lies of Irving, of presenting something so enormously untrue that one believes it because it is too huge not to be true? I have a suspicion that most people who see the movie don't really get the trick being played on them.

As a side issue, the whole psychology of Irving is a mystery to me. I simply cannot lie with such casual power, never could. I can keep my mouth shut, but the power of Irving's gall is just beyond me.


My twenty-one month old grandson was over for supper tonight (with his parents). He calls me "Papa." His father is "Dada." I was mugging with him across the table out on the back deck, something he chortled over. He looked over at Gramma and said, "Papa fun."

So ahem, I want you all to know that Papa is fun, whether it rings true with your own memories of me or not.