My Pants Are on Fire!

by Jeff Gooch • in
  • May 2018
  • Video World
• Created: May 14, 2018

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Lies pervade the arts. In fact you could make the argument that all arts are lies because they don’t accurately reflect reality or the perception of reality. They reflect the highest value of what we wish was reality, the very essence of why we are. By that logic all artists are liars.

Lies. All lies. Or I guess the de rigueur term is Fake News or Alternative Facts (that term makes me lose my mind, for what it’s worth). Whatever you call it, there seems to be a lot of it going around these days. In the entertainment business, lies are rampant. I mean just look at some of the shows being sold out there. There’s no way half of that stuff would sell unless someone embellished the truth somewhere along the way, right?

But the truth comes out quickly and brutally on the production end, because there is just no way the things we do can be accomplished without complete transparency and disclosure. If there’s a question about what something weighs, or what it takes to hang it, we have a physical precedent that forces the truth to come out. “Hmmmm….might be 1,800 pounds. Might not….use the heavy gauge stuff” is not normally what you’d hear. There are a million different ways to run signal, but there is no questioning the physics involved, unless, of course, you lie about it. “500m? That stuff should be good for 1km without a DA….maybe.” Behind the curtain, we deal in truth, and our currency is trust, because for anything to work, it has to be that way.

I’m asking you Sugar, would I lie to you?…

I remember being on an A/V gig a long time ago where every single thing that I was told about the gig was completely wrong. I was on the tip of the production spear for a company hired to supply a lot of gear for a national convention. Breakout rooms, general sessions, meetings galore. Event coordinators would tell us that rooms were reserved when they weren’t, gear was distributed that was never ordered, production assistants had entire schedules that were obviously falsified, and we were told the loading dock height was 13 feet. It was 12 feet and two inches, so we had to unload everything at street level and push through the back hallways just to load in. It was a classic example of what happens when incompetence, or, better stated, rampant lying occurs. I remember at one point during the week-long disaster calling my wife and saying, simply, “I just wanted to hear a voice that won’t lie to me…”

‡‡         Slow Lies and Fast Lies

I’ve come to regard lies in our industry as Slow Lies and Fast Lies. Fast lies don’t last very long, hence the name. And people who tell fast lies don’t last very long, either. In fact, they tend to do it a lot and they eventually get a bad rep. Or injured. “I got it!….wait…I don’t got it!” Fast lies usually happen when there is a lot going on. The people that tell them are usually not bad people. On the contrary, they are often just in a position where it’s easier to act like they know what they are talking about rather than actually knowing. Savvy fast liars usually realize that they are doing it and correct the behavior real fast. Not-so-savvy fast liars usually get injured and have to spend the rest of the gig in their hotel room or worse, a hospital room. I guess I should attribute this to the difference between ignorance and stupidity. I have no problem with ignorance, but I have a real problem with stupidity. Both adjectives get used interchangeably to a fault. By itself, ignorance isn’t so bad sometimes. In fact, it’s been historically linked to bliss, and that is a state no one has a problem with. I’m ignorant about quantum mechanics, checking accounts, and women’s health, and I’m okay with that.

If ignorance is bliss, then wipe the smile off my face…

Slow lies are the ones that usually start at very early pre-production calls or advances where there are more people than need be, and not everyone has had the same amount or strength of coffee. These are the ones where, if you have a really sensitive BS meter, it’ll start pegging. They are the most dangerous of all classes of lies because they lead to bigger ones. All kinds of questions get asked, and all kinds of stuff gets promised, or at the very least speculated on, and everyone usually walks away feeling really good about the upcoming gig and, “Gosh, let’s keep everyone in the loop,” and “Here’s my card,” and “When can we meet again?” and yada yada yada. Remember that game from grade school where one person whispers a word or phrase to another and then it has to get passed down the line to 15 different people, and then at the end you find out how radically changed the original phrase was? Telephone, I believe it was called, and it’s a prime example of how Slow Lies work in this business. Except we don’t get to laugh and start over when the gig arrives…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in meetings like that where I’ve had to bite my tongue because of the obvious lack of knowledge displayed by the planning parties. I usually attribute all this to a Slow Lie and wait for it to hash itself out. The truth starts to come into focus proportionally to the amount of time left before the gig. That’s when, at least to me, it starts to get exciting and the people responsible for the Slow Lie start to get nervous. This is usually when the email threads start to get real deep, and what should have been really simple questions turn complex. “What do you mean, there is no dock available?”… “We have to take shuttles from the parking lot?”… “There is no A/C available in the building until further notice?”… “No truck wrangling near the venue? What does that even mean?”…. “Wait…the gig is next week???”

If you always tell the truth, you won’t have to remember anything…

There are other types of lies you know….rotten, filthy, disgusting, bold-faced, plagiaristic, compulsive, and yes little white ones. There are probably more clinical terms but they all come from the same place — pain and fear. Almost everyone lies because they’d rather live with the long-term fear of lying to themselves and others than face the temporary pain of the truth.

Trust me, that’s no lie.

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