April 06, 2005

Hit by Your Own Flack Dept.

C.S. LEWIS ONCE wrote a pretty good formula for analyzing reports of strange, outlandish, or downright surreal happenings, particularly when rational people were doing the reporting. He wrote it in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," and I'll summarize it for readers who don't recall it off the tops of their heads:

It's near the beginning, right after Lucy tells her older siblings there's a portal to another world inside a wardrobe in one of the manse's back rooms. The older children, naturally thinking Lucy has gone off the deep end, alert the wise and knowledgeable Professor about the stories, with the clear expectation that he too will find ol' Luce has lost the plot.

However, the Professor -- who has seen some crazy stuff in his day -- informs the Pevensie kids there are three options one must consider: 1) Lucy is lying; 2) Lucy is mad; or 3) Lucy is telling the truth. As it turned out, Option Three was the right conclusion to draw, and soon, the Pevensies -- like millions of children reading the books -- were cleverly drawn into Lewis' religious play.

But that's beside the point for the moment. My question is this:

The New York Post recently reported on the alleged marital troubles between Britney Spears and her husband, That Goofy Looking Guy. The paper said the couple had called an emergency family meeting to discuss the situation, which has reportedly gotten quite serious. Given this, which of the three options mentioned above would explain the following statement from one of Britney Spears' publicists?

A representative for Spears said: "Britney and Kevin were at the hotel to celebrate [sister] Jamie Lynn's birthday. An emergency meeting was called, but only because Britney was afraid her dog, Bit Bit, was pregnant by [brother] Brian's dog, Porkchop and that would be incest.

"As for Britney and Kevin, they are still together, happy and gearing up to do press on the new show. There will be a magazine cover involved."

For the record, Bit Bit is a chihuahua and Porkchop is a bulldog.

The couple are "staying at a Santa Monica condo now," the rep added.

Um ... well, Duane -- gotta go -- due back on planet Earth.

I mean, I honestly don't know which option to consider, although I damn sure hope it ain't option No. 3. God, can you imagine it -- here you are, with the details of your private trauma being reported, and your PR people instead tell the world that you're an idiot. I would about die of embarrassment if I ever found myself in such a spot.

Then again, I would about die of embarrassment if I found out my PR people had lied, per option No. 1. I'm sure it's not that, though -- because lying about something is stupid, and serving up a bad lie is even worse. Telling a lie that makes people believe the true report is actually true -- it just doesn't work at all.

So that leaves option No. 2, although madness admittedly doesn't fit into the equation here. Instead, the publicist might have actually been erroneously told this was what happened, and as such might have completely believed it, and as such might have had to act rather annoyed if the Post scribe had laughed his ass off upon hearing it.

But that's show business.

(via Steve Silver)

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 6, 2005 11:55 PM | TrackBack

Oh wow, he wrote Chesterton's liar-lunatic-Lord gambit right into that book! In case you didn't know, Lewis (and Chesterton before him) had used that argument for the credibility of Jesus: either he was lying, he was crazy or he was the Messiah like he said he was. It never seemed like a good argument to me, since option 2 is so unclear; it seems based on the idea that you are either a raving and obvious loony, or you are perfectly sane. As we know, however, the line between those two states can be all too blurry sometimes...

(BTW, I am told that Chesterton actually used this not to argue for Jesus' general divinity but against the "he was a wise teacher but not God" line of argument. That makes more sense than the way Lewis used it.)

Posted by: Camassia at April 7, 2005 06:23 PM

Hi Camassia,

I didn't know that was Chesterton's gambit; Lewis had written about it in "Mere Christianity." That said, it never really clicked in my brain until I read your comment. Lewis put a LOT of symbolism into his Narnia books, yet the skill with which he did so continues to impress me -- two decades later!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at April 9, 2005 10:26 PM