Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Jenny Sloan

Have you ever watched Early Edition? It is a TV show from the 90's. I recently thought about it, and tried to find it online so I could watch it. I am not sure how many episodes I watched back when it was originally on TV. So far, there isn't a lot that is familiar, so I am not sure I saw much when it first aired.

It is a show about a man who "gets tomorrow's paper today." It would be no surprise to me that something like that might interest me.

It is interesting watching it for several reasons, not the least of which is how different things are from the 90's. You not only see pay phones and phone booths and phone books, but they are actively used. You see an occasional cell phone, but it is big and bulky. You see VCRs and boom boxes. And, even the premise is kind of outdated, as newspapers are not nearly as common, or necessary, as they were back then. I can't imagine how that premise would work today, although it could possibly squeak by.  But what about 20 years from now?

But that is not why I am writing about it. I just saw an episode about a woman who was written about by a reporter. She was terminal, and they said she only had one year left to live. At least that is what was said. It, apparently, was a fraudulent story, made up by the reporter. It revived his career, and he found a woman to play the role of "Jenny."

When the main character, Gary, figured out what's was going on, their story threatened to unravel. The reporter almost threw "Jenny" under the bus in an attempt to salvage his career. In the end, he told everyone she had left to "go home," and he resigned, but only after reinforcing the legend of Jenny.

The show, I think, was designed to question what was "right" and "wrong." Many would likely think the scam "wrong," but the idea was presented that we need people and things to believe in, and "Jenny" had become that. And she had helped others through who she had been - or at least appeared to be thought the tale woven about her.

It was just TV, and TV often stretches and misrepresents things, but I can't help but think 20 years ago a scam of that nature might have been easier to implement than today. Today there is the Internet and we hear about so much more that happens in all parts of the world than we would have back then.

People today are fatigued, too. In the story, the woman had cancer. Today there are countless cancer stories. I tend to think today people are more inclined to disbelieve a person dealing with cancer before they would believe them. It is not in all cases, as there are still those who manage to scam others. 

Maybe it is part of the wanting to believe in something that the show talked about that has something to do with those who get caught in the scam. "Buying" into that person's story in some way makes them feel good, or possibly feel better, about themselves.

The thought that someone could write a story that could create what "Jenny" had is something that in some way still plays out today. It just plays out differently. It "just" takes someone getting on Ellen, or mentioned by Oprah, or the creation of something that goes "viral." 

And, like the fictional Jenny, sometimes the things that could be used for "good" can wind up supporting a person with a lie in a greater way than someone who is dealing with the truth that the fraudulent person is misrepresenting. Not only do they benefit in some way, if caught, they hurt the community of those who truly have a need. People don't often just see a scam in isolation. They transpose what they think they know on to other people and situations - even the valid ones.

I can see how there are fine lines all over the place. Where they are drawn depends a lot on the person drawing them. A person claiming cancer may have financial needs, and just figure it is a way to get help. 

I am trying to figure out what I am trying to say. I really am not sure. I think that storyline just kind of hit me sideways, given my real life reality. At the same time, there is a part of me that gets that there can sometimes be more to a story than meets the eye. And while it superficially may be stamped as "bad," I can see how it may not always be what it seems. 

We live in a world that tends to want to be black and white, but really has many shades of gray. It seems like the more we think we know, the less gray we are inclined to see. Would we benefit from being willing to see more grays? Even though it can certainly bring up a lot more questions and potential issues, I tend to think the answer is...yes.

No comments:

Post a Comment