Believing The Lie
I follow the tragic war in Ukraine closely and find it interesting that the primary source for raw news is Twitter, and the best analysis occurs on YouTube. These new sources have replaced the old sources, such as newspapers, internet articles, and national television. This new medium allows rapid news spreading and analysis. We can also check out the raw news sources and even directly contact the source—quite a change.
Recently, a YouTube influencer (I hate that word) discussed a translated Russian state television broadcast. It proclaimed that the restaurants in England were serving rat meat because of the chronic food shortage caused by their Ukraine support. Wow, what a bold lie! But unfortunately, many people truly believed this “trusted” news source.
What was going on in the viewer’s heads? “Because the news said so, it must be true.” “Makes sense to me.” “Seems logical.” “They have never lied before.” I propose something different is going on. These misguided people allowed themselves to believe the lie. Essentially, the lie is better than the truth. Humans often have ill-advised reactions to unpleasant situations. “I do not need to go on a diet. I look great!” But what does this have to do with writing? I am glad you asked.
I realized that the newscaster was not lying as I watched this news clip. She was acting. She read a fictional script, and the audience allowed themselves to be taken in. The same activity occurs in a play or a movie. There is no such thing as a Star Wars lightsaber, but we sure liked it when Luke Skywalker started waving one around. So, we (the audience) believed the lie.
Perhaps when watching a movie, we expect to be entertained; when watching the news, we expect facts. Yet, sometimes we allow ourselves to be taken in. It’s nice to feel good about ourselves; the awful truth is a hard pill. Blissful ignorance. How about our favorite person X? Did you hear X was drunk driving last week? No way, not true. X is a fantastic person!
Fictional writers use every trick to pull readers into their stories. We twist facts, add intimate relationships where they would never occur, alter physics, spice up the characters, insert an impossible plot twist, entice the reader with a juicy hook, and paint a scene larger than life. “A beautiful, intelligent woman with everything going for her falling in love with an ugly, stupid, fat beast of a man? Of course!”
Readers and viewers expect a dream world where crazy ideas come true, people commit outrageous acts, and the lowest of the low is commonplace. I suppose that was also the goal of the Russian newscaster. They were achieving the state agenda by any means necessary. However, to the rest of us, the results were absurd. Yet, that technique works every time in a story. Did you see the movie Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure? That silly movie was as believable as that Russian state news broadcaster. Fortunately, I keep my blogs real. Or do I?
You’re the best -Bill
April 05, 2023
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