How to Act Human: Advice for Mitt Romney From Inside the Actors Studio
As Joan Didion wrote, “You kind of grow into the role you have made for yourself.” Note that Lipton’s advice for Romney’s “inauthenticity” isn’t “be authentic,” but “learn to act.”
Ronald Reagan wasn’t an authentic common man either, but he was an authentic SAG-card-carrying actor…. The lesson of Reagan is that, whatever his politics and legacy, there was always only one of him. Even with all his theatrical experience, he never essayed a dual role. So, for what it’s worth, my advice to Mr. Romney is this: Since the evidence indicates that you lack the skills to simulate what you’re not, you should stick to typecasting and go with what you’ve got and who you are. It’s not just your best option, sir, it’s your only one.
More fodder for my feeling that “authenticity” is mainly a marketing term and an illusion — it’s when what you tell your audience about who you are is in line with what they perceive you doing and being.
The real truth is that “being human” means you aren’t just one thing — you’re several things, as Phillip K. Dick said:
A person’s authentic nature is a series of shifting, variegated planes that establish themselves as he relates to different people; it is created by and appears within the framework of his interpersonal relationships.
We don’t really want our politicians to be human, we want them to be good characters, good actors. “Authenticity” means you’re sticking to the script and you’re making us believe it. We can give the last word to Leon Wieseltier:
Authenticity is a paltry standard by which to appraise an idea or a work of art or a politics. Authenticity is a measure of provenance, and provenance has nothing to do with substance. An idea may be ours and still be false. A work of art may be ours and still be ugly. A politics may be ours and still be evil.
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