Let’s Pretend…

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The other day, one of my vegan friends asked me over for lunch for the first time ever. I don’t really like fish flesh or fowl; so when she asked whether it would be a problem, I said it would not.

When she dished up, my eyebrows rose of their own accord. A huge, beautiful salad was topped by two cutlets. “Cute, aren’t they?” she asked. “They’re soya, and they’re simply delicious…”

Frankly, I cannot comprehend the pretence of eating meat when you profess to abhor it. Is this not the humorous version of The lady doth protest too much?

This blinkered attitude, moreover, is rife all around us.

Probably the one that hurts the most is the current exposé of Jimmy Savile and his cohorts. It is beyond obnoxious that when people tried to divulge their suspicions or even reveal what they knew, they were shushed up with complacent cajoling comments such as That’s the way it goes, or that’s Jimmy for you, and so on. This, the ugly version of eppur si muove is telling of how those who are in a position to do something, anything, often fear to rock the boat because complacency brings a hefty cheque at the end of the month.

So because the dirty old man (who began his nefarious career of abuse when he was still young) raised millions for charity, we condone his behaviour, and, worse, pretend that nothing was happening?

It was the same thing with the other predatory paedophile Jerry Sandusky’s reign of terror on the boys under his care. Let’s pretend, his defence attorney said, that he was teaching these inner-city boys how to use a bar of soap.

A lot has been said about how we must pretend it is only the people of Mellieħa who take exception at being called pufta. This, again, makes no sense at all; I do not see why anyone should consider it an affront to have his sexual orientation questioned. I don’t; I am content inside my skin and nothing anyone will say can make me change what I am into something they say I am, or that I ought to be.

More pretence comes with the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Let’s pretend that women secretly want to be dominated and beaten into submission is part of the spiel that has many men “buy it for their wives” and women fantasise about how they would like to be seduced and ravished in a way that involves pain. It could also be, of course, let’s pretend that most women’s sex lives are so vapid that they need lessons in how to get titillated.

This is as risible as the argument recently brought forth by Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. As he begins his Hague war crimes court defence, he insists that not only should we pretend his ten charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s never happens, but that, moreover, he ought to be awarded for all the good he did – including “reducing the suffering of civilians”.

Abuse of power is something that happens not only nation-wide, but also inside a home where children have a right to be safe. It is beyond my comprehension how an incestuous father could be so wickedly diabolic as to pretend to each of three daughters she was his only victim – and doing this by placing a price on the life of a sibling.

And it must be said that the risible sentence he has received gives the message that – make no pretence about it – this taboo, at law, is certainly not held in the same way as it is viewed by mothers of children the same age as this fiend’s daughters, and many others too.

Hoaxers and conmen throughout the ages have long known that people tend to fall for the “let’s pretend” ruse most of the time. Some of the fabrications are fun; others could possibly have lethal consequences.

We used to laugh at The Addams Family cocktails emitting chill-and-smoke effect fumes that could have been obtained by dry ice or liquid nitrogen. However, we never saw Morticia Addams or anyone else on the series actually drink the potions. Yet, pretending it is trendy thing to drink a Nitro Jägermeister has landed at least one teen in hospital with a perforated stomach.

We have enough of “let’s pretend” in the cinema – and in certain so-called news bulletins.

Reality is something that isn’t even present in reality shows, or many of the magazine programmes in which opinionated people mouth off, often speaking over others, hoping that their loudness will make them credible.

Why are we allowing let’s pretend to rule, and truth to be so elusive, in real life?


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