Lying is performance art

Years ago, against my prejudice, I allowed a friend to drag me to a species of — oh, that’s not fair — an event called performance art.

(Why were we sitting in the front row?)

My pre-judgment had been right. It was awful. More than awful. It gave me insight as to how some people grow up yearning to be performers or artists. At an early age, two or three, they kick start their careers, performing for adoring family members who offer oohs and aahs at the marvelously entertaining tots. Who are marvelously entertaining.

But — this is the crucial point — the adult family members never stop oohing and aahing, no matter how old the kid becomes. We can discuss the age at which an extroverted child just might be available for some qualified comment — I don’t mean criticism, not that — but a sense of, uh, a reduction in the worship quotient.

Anyway, there I was watching one or several seriously imperfect, desperate-for-attention people doing and saying and showing things on a makeshift stage in a makeshift theater well off-off-off-Broadway. Oy. It was amateur night at a eleven-year-old’s birthday party where entry should have been barred to anyone who wasn’t a blood relation.

If I’m trapped at something that bores or irritates me, my mind wanders and becomes open to brilliant revelations. Here was mine: a “performance artist” can be defined as someone not competent or persuasive at either performance or art.


Let’s skip to my new revelation. Performance artists are wonderfully excellent at…bald-face public lying!

Back when Trump elevatored his way into our consciousness, a whole bunch of us were, like, “Whaa? He’s lying.” Not to belabor the point, but we never worked our way toward understanding that a lot of people didn’t give a shit. Which was the only wonderment we had about Trump’s perpetual lies. Never occurred to us that blatant lies could attract an audience.

I mean, if you’re going to lie — and lie badly, baldly, stupidly — call yourself a performance artist, not a politician.

Seems clear that Trump opened the (stage) door to blatant liars (as well as other uglier things). Lies and propagating those lies became genuine performance art among Fox heads, Trump supporters and weird dopes like George Santos.

Which is why I hereby suggest we codify liars as performance artists by establishing an award for them. By doing so, we can cut down the endless columns of wearied journalists fact-checking, and commenting, and being yelled at for coming up with euphemisms for lies.

I don’t have a name for this award, nor a design idea. I’m leaving that to less creative minds than mine. Advice: think grotesque and re-cycled plastic.

I can, though, nominate as a leading candidate the guy whose tale — gleefully narrated in Kevin Underhill’s LoweringTheBar — follows:

Guess who still isn’t an Irish orphan named Arthur Knight? That’s right—Nicholas Rossi, the man wanted on rape and fraud charges in the U.S. who changed his identity, later faked his new identity’s death, then later turned up in Glasgow claiming to be this third person. Rossi is fighting extradition, and sticking with the hilarious conspiracy theory he offered to explain why he has the same distinctive tattoos as the U.S. criminal. See “Suspect Claiming Mistaken Identity Says Someone Tattooed Him Without His Knowledge” (Nov. 15, 2022). The BBC reported that Rossi had missed a court hearing due to an “altercation.” Rossi’s seventh lawyer (successively, he doesn’t have seven lawyers) said it was his client’s position that he had been assaulted by court staff, so that’s probably what happened.

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