Sunday, January 29, 2006

More on Win-Frey

(photo from oprah.com) Over at Huffington Post they're hotly debating the James Frey on Oprah moment. Who knew I was watching a moment of pop cultural history last Thursday!

This commenter concisely articulates the bottom-line of my response to the show:

"I think Oprah is a basically a wonderful person and if she wanted to express her anger at James Frey's deception and his intentional use of her show to promote what he knew to be fiction, that's fine. But I wish if using her show to promote a lie merits a public flogging, why doesn't she apply the same standard to Judith Miller, Condi Rice and Colin Powell. They all used the Oprah show to disseminate known untruths and thousands of people have died as a result of their fraud. Compare that to what Frey did."
Posted by: dcbs on January 27, 2006 at 08:04am"


As for James Frey, there seems a moment in our public lives when, anyone who is living vibrantly at least, is called on a mistake, or something more momentous than a simple mistake--say a bald-faced lie for instance. At that moment we have an opportunity to define ourselves. We acquiesce to our weakness or fear or insecurity. We admit our fallibility or defend the lie if there was some creative reason we felt it had to be told. We explain our definition of genre, back our asses up! Or we border on defensive or catatonic like Frey did. There was very little likable about him that day, as he was being systematically lampooned.

I believe it is precisely at those moments--when we are being "attacked"--that we most eloquently live and express our humanity by staying engaged in it, good or bad. That we open to that space of vulnerability (Judith Butler's Precarious Life). This is how an epiphanel shift occurs, either individually or societally. In Frey's case the question seems to be the ethics of a former addict's inflated story.

I would have loved to hear Frey fully explain why he altered facts. It would have been enlightening to hear him explain that no one was buying his book when he shopped it as a novel. That only when the publishers saw it as a voyeristic expose' did it have the final element of sordidness necessary for mass appeal.

6 Comments:

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Pamela!! Still visiting and enjoying your commentaries on the vagaries of our everyday lives.
I was in SLC this past weekend and visited one of our dearest friends.
At one point during my visit, she sang to me and it was a beautiful sound, and she was beautiful doing it. She said that you always told her that she had a beautiful voice...I agree. But, she's beautiful in so many ways as you already know.
Will visit again soon.
Best wishes,
Carolina Jim

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Oh, I wish I could have been there with you two! And yes, my soul sister is amazing.

Carolina Jim, are you from North or South? I'm thinking of applying to Warren Wilson's MFA program which I believe is in Raleigh, NC.

 
At 4:02 PM, Blogger Sarie said...

The whole Frey thing is just bewildering. I saw a segment of Oprah's show, and though she did seem to be grilling him, I thought she was tough but fair. After all, her credibility is now at risk. As for his, well, I was just at Target last night and saw an entire shelf stocked with his memoirs. Apparently they're still selling like hotcakes. I guess negative publicity is still publicity.

Anyway. I miss you! I feel like we haven't seen each other in ages! Fortunately, I'm feeling much better these days, so we really ought to get together soon. What are you doing the weekend of the 18th? I was hoping to get a bunch of girls together out for a night on the town. Dinner, dessert, and a little intelligent conversation. You game? ;)

 
At 11:24 AM, Anonymous Carolina Jim said...

Hi Pamela! Oh my gosh...I never thought that I would rate a personal reply from you...I am honored. I am originally from North, but currently reside in South. I attended college in Raleigh so I have a soft spot for that area. I am sure that Raleigh would be improved immensely by your presence there. As we say down here, "Y'all come! We'd love to have ya!". CJ

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger Pamela said...

Jim,

For me at least, a blog is not "blogging" if there isn't a dialogue between the "author" and her/his audience. I really believe in the space that is created by dialogue--feel that if this space existed everywhere many of our problems could be solved.

Perhaps that's a bit idealistic ...

If I do end up at Warren Wilson, I'll have to pick your brain about life in Raleigh (it's a low residency program so I'd only be there for 10 days, twice a year).

Take care!

 
At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Carolina Jim said...

Hi Pamela!! I would love to regale you with stories of life in and around the Raleigh area...be advised though that my stories are somewhat dated. Perhaps you and I, and your soul-sister and my good friend, could gather together and swap stories of our lives in earlier(younger) times. It would be my pleasure to be in the company of two such extraordinary women.
All the best,
CJ

 

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