Since the invention of spoken language, the untruth has probably been told just as much — if not more — than the truth. The average person lies three times per 10 minutes of conversation, which means by the time you’ve reached the end of this article, statistics say I would have lied to you a whole two and a half times (though I would never do that).
Lying has become so common in the way we communicate with each other that these tiny tales of deceit have begun to perpetuate a society filled with two types of people: nonbelievers and believers — or more simply, cynics and idiots.
Though most lies aren’t actually intended to harm anyone, they’re still too often uttered. As children, our mothers told us to be good or Santa Claus wasn’t going to bring us presents. We know now that there is no Santa Claus (or Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy, for that matter), and as for the cookies we left, our parents had been eating them all along.
Today, the squeaky-clean Disney kids blab about still being virgins, which is questionable for many of them. Paris Hilton divulges her daily dose of verbal garbage to the public, claiming in interviews she has “never done drugs,” though a pixelated video on TMZ could easily prove her wrong. On other occasions, celebrities deny getting plastic surgery, being bulimic or dating their co-stars — all of which later turn out to be true.
And we lie too. On Facebook we tell each other how “gorgeous” or “hot” we think our friends look when really the atrocious outfit they’re wearing or horrendous facial expression is in no way deserving of either compliment.
But in the world of distortion and scandal, the term “lie” is just another harsh name for industry jargon, specifically “damage control.” That is why actress Mischa Barton felt compelled to visit the The View while on her public apology tour in an effort to challenge the audience’s gullibility — only nobody’s buying it.
With her memorized script of excuses in mind, Barton, who battled allegations of hardcore drug use and heavy partying over the past year, blamed her downward spiral on a surgery from hell for the removal of her wisdom teeth. Barton said she was in extreme pain, but unable to take painkillers because of her work schedule. I guess that’s how she turned to cocaine.
Following the botched surgery, Barton was hospitalized in mid-July and placed under involuntary psychiatric hold at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Locked up in a psych ward for bad dental surgery? Something is not adding up.
During the TV interview, Barton got tongue-tied on her words. She quickly changed subject by describing the abrasive media attention surrounding her hospitalization as a “perfect storm,” like “everything was happening at once.” These lines, as well as countless others, were clearly rehearsed, as they were doled out verbatim by Barton to other media outlets weeks before. As she robotically fed viewers her explanations, the public wondered: How dumb does she think we are?
With so many lies coming directly from persons of public status, the truth becomes more disastrously unclear. If celebrities are allowed to justify drug sprees and reckless nights on the Sunset Strip with a bad experience after getting teeth pulled, where will we draw the line for excusatory nonsense that we can accept? Every interview in Hollywood seems to be for reputation repair.
Likewise, politicians operate on a similar note: selling Senate seats, having adulterous affairs and funneling shady earmarks. They claim innocence to the death and fool the forgiving public until they’re finally caught. The public feels cheated but must learn a valuable lesson — take everything with a grain of salt, until we can hold celebrities and politicians more accountable.
Barton’s best plea is weak, and we should be cautious. As the Hollywood machine — so often a microcosm for politics — keeps churning, celebrities will continue to spew lies as long as the public remains impressionable. And sadly, that’s no lie.
Christopher Agutos is a junior majoring in public relations and political science. His column, “Pop Life,” runs Tuesdays.