Truffle Fries (And Lies)
“When we speak our truth, we give the other person permission to come forward too.” - Aruni Futoransky
Did you know that Bradley Cooper was 5 years sober when he filmed The Hangover? I was recently listening to a very impactful podcast where he spoke to Oprah about the great work of his life, his recent film “A Star is Born”. I fell in love with him, more so. His authenticity and vulnerability were endearing. His sheer gratitude for being alive was so inspiring. He comes from a point of view of someone who is in recovery, who has been given a second chance at this thing we call life. This is a point of view I understand and love. So if this incredible human being had to pretend to be a blackout drunk and had to pretend it was glamorously hilarious, in order to “make it” in Hollywood, well I forgive him and consider it a sign of the times we live in, a symptom of the societal values we have created. Sell, Pretend, Sell, Sell, Pretend More, Sell More.
But then the next day a post popped up in my Instagram feed, about the actress Kim Catrall from Sex and The City being a non-drinker. And something like curiosity mixed with annoyance sparked inside of me. You mean every week Samantha was only pretending to need cosmopolitans for a full life?!?! I am not sure that all the pretending is really what surprised me, of course, she is an actress. But when I also remembered that Kristen Davis (aka Charlotte) was in recovery from alcohol abuse, a new emotion entered my awareness. Anger. And the surprise I mentioned, it’s more connected to the shocking (to me, anyway) idea that we have allowed there to be zero social moral responsibility in Hollywood. Should there not be some awareness and responsibility associated with that awareness when we know, without a doubt, that the films and shows being produced are shaping the values and beliefs of those watching them? Shouldn’t the actors feel a sense of responsibility to portray something that is slightly more truthful, or at least not a very harmful opposite of their own truth? I know it is “just business”, and by definition, it is the pretending business. But can we really afford to pretend on this large of a scale, about something so detrimental to so many of our fellow human beings?
Flash back 20ish year ago. I was SO impressionable, as were most people in the target audience for Sex and the City. In my early 20s I was bumbling around, trying desperately to figure out what would make me cool, what would help me find myself a full social calendar, what would make me a glamorous woman in today’s world. I remember many evenings spent shaking those damn cosmos in my crappy low rent apartment, in fact, I could still rhyme off the ingredients quite easily. I filled martini glasses with them and used them as my armor, to enter social situations and conquer. Strengthened by the Sex and the City cocktail of choice, I could be my version of today’s empowered female. Or so I thought. But I ask you this. How empowering is it, to be chugging cosmos out of a water bottle that you snuck onto public transit and then getting off early to pee in an alley? How glamorous is it to black out and forget your conversations on a regular basis, from some concoction that TV and the world’s 4 hippest ladies told you was a required element to be a strong female in today’s world? And my biggest question, how the heck did we let a whole generation of women believe that a specific cocktail, or cocktail hour in general, would improve their quality of life? Where is the moral responsibility we have to each other in this? What parent helped produce that show that told so many other people’s young daughters that cocktails were compulsory to fit in?
Think about this. Half of the Sex and the City foursome was alcohol-free! HALF. Yet week after week they showed us that cocktails were the answer to a tough day, the way we celebrate a good day and the ticket to fulfilling and close bonds with other females. Week after week they taught me how to put on the costume of a modern and empowered woman, how to act the part. But they were lying. In real life, at least half of those women were finding that empowerment and success relied on them remaining alcohol free.
Now, imagine this. Samantha walks into the room, after a tough sexual encounter gone wrong. She’s powerful, hilarious and riveting. And instead of insisting on female bonding over cocktails, she proclaims that she needs truffle fries (or any high end food indulgence, insert what works for you). Then off they go, to rehash their days and support each other. Maybe some of them drink, but they don’t all. And as Samantha is gorging on Italian truffle infused fried organic russet potatoes, she is brash and funny and she fits in, and she is supported and loved. She is vibrant. She is truthful. She presents another option. And it seems insane to even point out that a partnership between alcohol and female empowerment should not be presented as the only option, but it kind of was on this show. And this show was popular, very popular. Especially with a certain demographic. And I can’t help but wonder if 20 year old me had seen a strong, loud, inspiring, empowered, and socially accepted, socially loved, alcohol free version of Samantha, week after week. rerun after rerun, if I might have seen it as an option for me. If every time I had a tough day to soothe or an amazing day to celebrate, if I was offered the catchphrase “truffle fries” instead of “cocktails”, I can’t help but wonder if that might have changed my path a little.
And I know for certain, that mine can’t be the only path that could have been potentially, and maybe even drastically, changed by a little honesty and moral responsibility.