So, last month on the Trinity Broadcast Network, Donald Trump claimed he created the term “fake news” and even took credit for coming up with the word “fake.” Because I know you need my reassurance, I will tell you that this is, indeed, untrue. I know, because it was me who came up with the phrase. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself: Back in 2011, acclaimed writer and editor Roxane Gay published my piece of satirical fiction “Fakiness” in the magazine PANK. Clearly it changed the world.FakinessYou watch fake news. You say it’s because you hate the real news. And you claim the real news is faker than the fake news, the fake news being the only news that tells the truth.
You ask “But what is The Truth?” waiting for the other person to shrug their shoulders, at which point you plan to say “Exactly. It’s all just someone’s opinion.” But instead of shrugging her shoulders, she takes a huge bite of a $0.25 fruit pie and complains about how they don’t put as much fruit filling in them as they used to. And then she wipes her mouth on her pants, which are plastic but made to look like leather. It’s funny because they match the seats in your car. You laugh.
You have two laughs: Your real one and your fake one. These are indistinguishable to both your real friends and your fake friends, all who know one another, getting together and laughing it up at your expense when you excuse yourself to the bathroom to snoop through the medicine cabinet. While snooping you say “Hey, this is my medicine cabinet; no need to feel guilty. But whose herpes medication is that?”
It’s suspicious. Just like the potato chips, with the claims that they’re “Made with Real Cheese.” And the funny thing, the thing that keeps you up late into the night giggling and hooting and sometimes vomiting is that you actually prefer the potato chips made with fake cheese. Why? Because you were raised believing that fake cheese tasted more like real cheese than real cheese.
But that doesn’t change the fact that your watch is made of fake gold. You know it’s fake because you bought it for $10 from an old guy on the street who you inadvertently referred to as a Chinaman when retelling the story, the story about how he said it was water-resistant up to 100 meters and you said, “Why would I wear a solid gold watch that far under water?” and he said “And even if you did, would you really need to check the time?” And then the two of you shared a moment that seemed genuine but it couldn’t have been because you’re you and he’s just an old man that you inadvertently referred to as a Chinaman.
But not to his face. That would have been a faux pas, which, as you know, is French for “false step.” How do you know this? Because your grandfather had false teeth. And he was French. Or at least he wanted to be. How else could you explain that tiny little mustache and those goofy hats and those skinny cigarettes he put in your mouth as a youngster? Not to mention the French accent, which was as fake as his teeth. Some said he was just being funny, but these were the same people who said fake teeth hadn’t been funny since George Washington’s slave, Clarence, made audiences howl with his 1762 one-man show “Ye Olde Falsies.”
You thought it would be even funnier if your grandfather set up a Facebook profile – Look! Grand-Père’s on Facebook! – but then he died and you wept every time you saw his sad, jokey, faux-French profile picture (the one with the pipe) piled amongst your other 896 Facebook friends. Un-friending a Facebook friend is always hard but un-friending your dead grandfather is plain heart-breaking.
But not as heart-breaking as when you found out that your uncle’s “friend” Jerry was more than just a friend. It turned out that everyone had been putting “friend” in quotes for years, unbeknownst to you. Upon learning this you spent hours in your room, dejected and deceived, devising ways to make punctuation more apparent in speech so this would never happen again.
And ever since, when talking about your uncle you always mention how “he’s . . . you know” and then you do that wavy thing with your hand and then that thing with your mouth that sounds like a muted trumpet if it were played by a homosexual.
Sometimes mothers and fathers see you doing hand gesture/trumpet thing and hustle their children away while shielding their eyes and covering their ears, which always prompts you to shout “You can’t run from reality.” But they do, straight inside a careening new house, whose mortgage rate was so good it wasn’t true.
But those mothers and fathers wouldn’t know anything about that. Because they watch the fake news; the real news being too real. Unlike their homes and cherry wood furniture and all those flowers. Those are made of plastic.