Lies and confessions
What a week it’s been for coming clean. Every day, it seems, there is a new blockbuster.
Oprah has got to be pissed. She gets her first “big get” interview since she went off the air. Something that will make people buckle under and finally find out where the damned OWN network is on their cable/satellite system. Then, between the time she tapes the interview and the time it airs a few days later, it gets blown off of the front page by a Hawaiian, Mormon college linebacker and his dead fake girlfriend.
The Te’o saga is still unraveling. I’m not sure anyone really knows what’s what. Maybe not even Te’o himself (unless he truly was in on it.) I’m not going to rehash all the details here. If you haven’t done your pop culture homework before coming here, try catching up. But there are some similarities between Te’o and Armstrong.
1. Both have this Munchausen by Proxy thing going on. There is some kind of need to be pitied and to triumph over it. Only instead of getting your kid sick and basking in the sympathy, Te’o got a fictitious girl sick and Armstrong got himself sick. (By the way, I haven’t heard much speculation about whether or not Armstrong’s use of PEDs may have led to his cancer in the first place.)
2. Both had a cancer element in their story, which both heightened the sympathy and twisted the knife once the deception became apparent.
3. Both got into a symbiotic relationship with the media in promoting the mythical meta-narrative. In both cases, the media became hesitant to fully investigate the stories because they, too, were profiting by promoting the legend to attract ratings.
Of course, Armstrong’s confession was the worst kept secret in the world. Oprah could have coupled the revelation with a blockbuster about how pizza is fattening and Tommy Lee Jones is a curmudgeon.
I’ve got to say that I’ve learned something from this whole farce. I now know what “catfishing” is: someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities. I guess there’s an entire MTV show about it. (Is MTV still a thing?) It usually involves an initial, casual online connection, a developing cyber relationship, a subsequent trauma – traffic accident, illness – and then, a death. As long as there’s no ask for money or anything of value, no real crime has been committed. It’s purely for the sick amusement of the perpetrators.
Deadspin is completely trouncing the mainstream media with their coverage of this. They have followed the leads to people in California, one of whom is someone Te’o has known. Does that mean the guy targeted Te’o? Or was Te’o somehow in on it and it blew up in his face? And even if he was a victim, he still let the media blow the thing up into legendary proportions for a girl that was nothing more than a Twitter/Facebook contact. Like it or not, this thing is going to play out like a slow-motion car accident over the next several days.
Notre Dame says they have done their own investigation and they believe Te’o was a victim. That’s fine. The only red flag is that they are keeping their investigation private and confidential. All they will say is, “It’s fine! Nothing to see here! Look over there, a puppy!”
Manti will be fine as long as he logs decent 40-times and bench presses at the combines. He has plenty of time to rehearse his story for the team interviews. But, if Te’o was involved in the hoax from the beginning, if Notre Dame knows that and is covering it up, if they learned nothing from the travails of Penn State, then they deserve all the condemnation they will get.
And in the end, do you really care about any of it? Do you care about whether a cyclist doped? (Well, maybe we care about all the lives he ruined in covering it up.) Do you really care if Manti Te’o made up a fake dying girlfriend, or that he allowed the legend to be created after being “catfished” into caring for a girl he’d never met? Do you care that the new Internet meme is Te’oing with your fake girlfriend?
I really don’t think we care. But let’s face it, it can be a welcome distraction from the constant depressing barrage of gun debates, debt ceiling warnings, and Syrian war atrocities.