When that friend (or whomever) nails it, it has to be fake, right? Not always.
”The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” Bertrand Russell.
"That isn't you. You photo-shopped your head onto someone else's body."
The bait was tossed by some nitwit when I posted one of my first articles on my now-defunct site on Newsbreak about nailing 120 pushups on my birthday three years ago. The man in question, who clearly doesn't get out much, saw the below photo of me at close to 65 and decided that THIS COULDN'T POSSIBLY BE ME.
I was at that point in the best shape of my life, which was about to be cut short by multiple very serious injuries and then a long long line of surgeries to fix said injuries. That said, it was, in fact, me, from the glasses in my hair to my unpainted and not very pretty toes.
Those of you familiar with Dunning-Kruger (aren't we all by now? after four years of Trump who legitimized stupidity as genius) know where I'm headed with this. But perhaps not.
I've been sitting quietly with my thoughts about Viola Davis in The Woman King. No matter your persuasions, bottom line is that she hit it out of the park. Subsequent interviews and YouTube videos showing the incredible effort she put in for twelve months to prep for that role, and the role of a lifetime that she EARNED by doing that work, attest to her determination at 56 to take on the role, then to film it during menopause during the hot South African summer months.
There will be those who claim that she's not the one leaping into the air over the riflemen, that it's all CGI. Nope. She did the work, transformed herself, her body and ended up in a transformational movie.
And please kindly can we just STOP IT that the movie is historically inaccurate? The movie is about, with and for WOMEN. Hollywood always adapts. Glaring facts are changed in order to suit whoever is writing, producing and investing. Always been that way.
You don't hear all the incels who love to quote Braveheart gripe about the egregious adaptations do you? Grow up already, folks. TWK is a story, and as a story the emotional impact on all my most powerful female friends has been enormous, for each of us for very different reasons. That's another article. But I can't resist adding this:
Still won a ton of Oscars. Because Hollywood just wants to tell a story that makes a mint. Woman King tells one hell of a story, and enough of it is true to make it very exciting. The rest is magnificent window dressing. I suspect the greater insult is that it's a woman's movie, an unapologetically BLACK woman's movie, and it is stupendous. That's insulting to a lot of folks, inaccuracies be damned.
But this isn't.
Two days ago during one of my increasingly rare forays over to Twitter I stumbled upon this:
Cruise is well-known for doing most of his own stunts, including shattering his ankle against the side of a building. When Top Gun: Maverick aired, I knew I'd be buying the movie. It wasn't the bravado or the acrobatics. It was knowing that Cruise is sixty, an accomplished pilot, skydiver, climber and who knows what else. THAT is what did it for me.
Yet some folks called this "fake." Huh. Right.
People say that Viola Davis went through boot camp. I went through two in the military. At sixty I put myself through another one, training four hours a day for seven months to do Kilimanjaro. I was four years older, did not have a personal trainer, didn't get a DNA test to determine my best diet or training routine.
I did that training largely without professional help.
What followed after Kilimanjaro, to this now 70-yo who is finalizing four surgeries to get me back in the air, on a horse and up the mountain, still takes my breath away.
Twelve years, twelve years of adventures, extreme risks, horrific injuries, the kinds of things nobody signs up for but I did. I DID.
I sculpted my aging body into something else again. Four trips a year on average, each trip four or more weeks jammed with adventure after adventure.
As I comb through my photos and videos in preparation to submit the lot of them to a professional to sort, cull and organize so that I can use them in my speeches and my new book, I am plunged headlong back into the very worlds I threw myself into beginning at 58.
Yeah I did that.
That's what the extraordinary Viola Davis said when she was reviewing the film, and saw herself leaping with her warriors over the riflemen in one of the battle scenes.
Yeah, I did that.
Increasingly, as AI gets better at producing pictures of people we can't tell are fake, and ChatGPT replaces writers who have actual lived experiences, I can understand why people would challenge those who have done such things. But this is bigger, in fact.
Dunning-Kruger has always been with us. I suffered from such hubris when I was young and dumb enough to think that if I read a thing, I knew it, and could teach it, and was therefore an expert. Such idiocy horrifies me now but I also know it's a rite of passage. Social media has put this on steroids and it is now dangerously widespread.
So I shouldn't be surprised when Mr. Numb Nuts accuses me of fakery when at sixty I retool myself like Davis did, but better, and didn't stop at one and done. I spent twelve plus YEARS adding to my credentials.
Not done either, albeit this year has to be dedicated to healing and rebuilding. That is the price we pay for a life well-lived and way out loud.
If you are threatened by others' achievements, suck it up and get going. Go do something brag worthy yourself. EARN it. The more fake the world gets, the more important being real becomes.
Several of you have recently shared with me that The Woman King caused you to cry, for many of the same reasons and for some, different. That said, Maverick made me cry, not because he flew off with the (equally) badass Jennifer Connelly at the end into a brilliant sunset, but this:
Tom Cruise is sixty. He isn't half-done. For that he earns my undying respect. For it ain't fake.
Neither is my life. And like Cruise I ain't half-done.
For those of you hungry for part of Viola Davis' workout, here you go (and I am doing what of it I can, just wait 'til I have all my parts working):
Looking at you, Nancy, Karen and Penny.
We have entire generations growing up without the slightest clue what's real. Let's be real.
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