For a brief period in the last year I followed singer David Crosby’s activities on Twitter. He has a very loyal fan base, and for a while I found it interesting to read his comments. He is provocative, opinionated, and has absolutely no desire to hold back if asked to weigh in about other artists. I notice that he often uses the word “poser” to describe someone whom he feels lacks a certain credibility or authenticity. Repeatedly he has labeled the late Jim Morrison with this word. I’ll take his word for it. I was never much of a Doors fan and Crosby has been in the music business an awfully long time. I’m sure he can spot a fake from the genuine article better than I can.
His constant use of the word poser, though, has made me think a little bit about authenticity in general.
Whether we like it or not (and I don’t) the campaign season for the next presidential election is already in full swing. The focus, of course, is on Donald Trump because he says such bombastic things. One thing he mentioned recently was a personal criticism of how Texas governor Rick Perry now wears eyeglasses. Perry, who famously flamed out in the last election with his “oops” remark, has remade his persona into that of a serious and scholarly observer of public policy. Trump got to the heart of this makeover by remarking that the only reason Perry is wearing the glasses is to look smarter. We’ll never know if this is true or not, of course. But I’m betting that The Donald might be on to something here.
Normally politicians wear contact lenses or have LASIK surgery in order to look their best on the campaign trail. Even Hillary Clinton got rid of those awful thick glasses from her earlier days of yore. I think you have to go back to Harry Truman to find a president who wore glasses in public at all times.
My personal feeling is that Trump’s absolute cheap shot at Perry is probably true, and I suspect that the governor’s team wants to “smart him up” a bit. Score one for Trump. However you choose to view him, The Donald is decidedly authentic. He’s not personally my taste in authenticity, but no one can accuse him of not being himself. He is that if nothing else.
But let’s be honest here and give ‘ol Rick a break. On some level aren’t we all publicly putting our best foot forward every single day? Even curmudgeons know that they have a certain image to maintain. I never once thought Andy Rooney was as much of a crank in his private life as he made himself out to be on TV. His grumpiness is what we all expected from him, and as time marched on he had to keep up the facade in order to keep that gig on 60 Minutes.
I even have my suspicions that Tom Cruise isn’t nearly as weird as all of us are convinced he is. <GASP>.
However, as you know by now, this blogger never points fingers at anyone without also including himself. Recently I was looking at some old pictures and came upon one in which I instinctively knew that I was guilty of some major posing. It’s the photo at the very top of this post. It was taken during my junior year in college, and I am surrounded by friends who lived on the same floor at my dorm. I don’t recall the circumstances under which the picture was taken, but I can certainly tell that I was more than ready for the moment to happen. There are just too many forced giveaways to fool the older version of me.
First of all, I am holding a can of Diet Pepsi. No guy I knew back then drank diet pop unless he was overweight. Nowadays, of course, we don’t think twice about a young man sipping a diet beverage. But back then it just didn’t happen. So why was I doing it? Because it was different, and I had convinced myself that in doing so I would have women flocking to my door because of how bold I was.
They didn’t flock, nor was I bold. I was just Howard Wolowitz long before he was even invented.
In looking at the picture now, I marvel at how I managed to get everyone to stand around my desk. In the background you can see all the evidence of my pre-Sensitive New-Age Guy persona. If you can possibly ignore the contrived rolled-up sleeves pose, with my shoulders hunched-up just ever so slightly, I’ll just point out the props that are clearly displayed in an effort to create my own: (1) the Barry Commoner poster advertising a speech he had given in Ann Arbor for which I recall having absolutely no intention of ever attending; (2) a wall poster from the No Nukes concert album; (3) a red John Anderson for President sticker; (4) and of course yet another Diet Pepsi can. It ain’t the kind of props I know I was going for, but I suppose it was a look. An affected faux-liberal one, but still a look.
What the flannel shirt poser doesn’t yet know is just how sweeping the impending Reagan Revolution is about to be. He is sucking in the very last gasps of what’s left of the post-Woodstock era, and it will soon become Morning in America again. The Gipper and the Iron Lady will show how it’s all done with a strapping and muscular attitude. Get a haircut and some nicer duds, fella. Very soon Alex Keaton will be showing you how anyway.
Whether it’s politicians, entertainers, or any one of us going about our normal lives, we all try to put on our best face. Of course, some of us are more successful at it than others. Customarily the more honest and genuine someone is the greater their chances will be. For instance, another candidate, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, seems to be rejecting his Asian and Indian heritage to try and instead come off as a gun-toting, beer-swilling All American redneck guy. Time will tell if he’s be able to pull off that particular pose. Justin Bieber, on the other hand… well, never mind. You get what I’m trying to say here.
So from this recovering poser, here’s hoping that we all make it through the next campaign season. With Jon Stewart about to end his show, it appears that we’ll be on our own in having to figure out which of our public figures are messing with our heads, and which ones are actually being sincere. Ms. Clinton, Mr. Walker… I’ve got my eyes on you.
Who are your current posers?