“With my sunglasses on, I’m Jack Nicholson. Without them, I’m fat and 60.”
This quote comes to my mind every time I see the actor, whether in movies or otherwise. As I learnt more about the world of cinema, I realized actors are really not what we see on screen. They have different real-life names, a different personality when no one’s looking, even a different get-up once the red recording light turns off. Their off-screen names, hairstyles, gait, posture are all part of their personality.
Don’t ask a celebrity to take off their glasses during a photoshoot, I learnt recently, as my colleague struggled to avoid ceiling lights reflecting off them.
It’s about perception. It’s their version of truth that they tell the world. For an outsider, it’s a lie. For the celebrities themselves, it’s an extension of truth, an extension of themselves. So, effectively, it’s both truth and falsehood, depending on whose side you are on.
It’s the same as putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Why does someone lie? Because they are afraid of what will happen if the truth comes out. So, from an outsider’s perspective, it’s still a lie. For the person saying it, it’s an impulse to defend himself. It’s still a lie, but he tries to justify it. Then, this person gets smarter. He doesn’t lie. He just doesn’t tell the complete truth.
It’s like this old joke we heard in school. A man goes to church to confess to the father. “I am afraid I’ve stolen a rope I found on the ground,” the man confesses.
“That’s alright,” says the father calmly. “It’s not really a crime. Whoever threw the rope probably didn’t need it anyway.”
“But there was a cow at the other end of the rope,” the man finally speaks. If anyone would have asked the man if he had taken a rope, he’d have replied “yes”. He’d be telling the truth, an incomplete truth, but the truth nonetheless.
Truth and lies have now evolved into truth, half-truth and lies. There’s also perceived truth. This image is perhaps the best explanation.
For someone who can see only the rectangle on the wall, the truth is that it is the shadow of something rectangular. For someone who sees the other shadow, the truth is something circular. We need to see the shape of the actual object to realise that neither shadow is incorrect. They are part of the truth.
Why do people lie, or tell half-truths? Of course, because they are afraid of the truth and don’t want to get caught. But that’s not the only reason. People also lie because their profession does not allow them to reveal the truth. A salesman would likely inflate the good qualities of his product while hiding the flaws. He’s lying. Or, to be correct, he’s revealing a half-truth. A CEO does the same when meeting a competitor in a conference. He’s measuring the competitor, well aware of his own weaknesses, but neither man wants to show their vulnerability.
Most property agents do it all the time. When you are looking to buy a house, the agent will tell you all the good qualities. When you want to sell, the same agent will tell you the shortcomings and try to get you to lower your asking price.
It reminds me of a Hollywood movie. The actor and actress, both poor, had moved to a new city to make a living. They were shown an apartment by the real estate agent, but the agent won’t let them remain in the house for a long period, always showing them around quickly and asking them to leave. It was only when they moved in that they realized they were located right next to a railway track, and the whole house would vibrate every time a train passed by.
Those in sensitive occupations find themselves in a perplexing situation many a time. I’ve never heard anyone mention openly that they are working with a domestic or an international intelligence agency, such as R&AW or IB. Such people lead double lives until eternity, even after their deaths. Two such series on Netflix – Inside the Mossad and The Spy – do very well to bring this to light.
To say that being a spy is a tough job is an understatement. The spy is a patriot for one country, but a criminal for the other. They go about their jobs for years, sometimes, decades, quietly relaying information they gather, risking their own lives, maybe even their families.
They always run the risk of being disowned by their country (at least that’s what they show in movies), and may have to fend for themselves if things go downhill. But they keep doing their job, no matter what the physical or emotional costs are, living a life of perceived truth and perceived lies.
Crafted with brevity for select stories to make certain you see what others don't; sent every Friday
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