In Crazy for God, Frank Schaeffer talks about how he used to be inauthentic. When he was on the right-wing Christian speaking circuit, he felt inauthentic, as if he were playing a role, for he didn’t truly believe in what he was saying. When he made secular movies that turned out to be flops (even though one of them had Dr. David Marcus from the Star Trek movies), he was being inauthentic, for his aim in making those movies was to make a big name for himself in the secular world. Those movies were a means to an end, not an authentic expression of himself. With his writing, however, about his family and his life experiences and the things that inspire him, etc., he has a chance to finally be authentic, and to make a living in the process.
I thought about authenticity as I watched Jodie Foster on Biography today. Jodie said she’s at the point in her career where she can act in and create movies that inspire her. They flow from her very being, as if they have to be made. And, in discussing a movie she made that received bad reviews, she said that at least she had an opportunity to say what she needed to say, and, if she’s the only person in the audience who receives benefit from that movie, then so be it. It was worth it!
But does authenticity pay the bills? Suppose I were to be a writer. I can be authentic in (say) my writing, but if no one is interested, can my writing be called “good” or pay the bills?
Can one accept constructive criticism from others about one’s work, and still be authentic?
Does America force us to be inauthentic? I was watching Joyce Meyer yesterday, and she was talking about how people are laid back in other countries. Here, however, we have to do and be everything. Few of us can be ourselves because of demands placed upon us to succeed, or even to survive. People like to talk about having a job that “fits” them, that doesn’t really feel like work, but how many of those kinds of jobs are there? Bills need to be paid, people must work to pay them, and the result is that they find themselves doing things that aren’t expressions of who they truly are. I believe Marx called that “alienation.”
Is authenticity a luxury?
I get the impression as I read certain narratives that hard work and being authentic lead to success. It can lead to failure too! I think of John-Boy on the Waltons (which I haven’t seen in a long time). He wrote a book about his family life, but he found that the company he wanted to publish it had numerous other manuscripts to read. Here are writers who have worked hard, yet they might not even have an audience! I’d like to write, since that’s something I enjoy doing, but would that pay the bills? There are successes, but there are failures too.
But these are my authentic ramblings for the day!