When I was early on in the concept phases of starting my own website and blog, people would often be surprised when I told them I wanted www.naturalbornliar.com as my website URL.
I mean, who goes around proclaiming to the world that they are a liar? A 'natural born' one no less?
Well, simply put, isn't that what all story tellers are?
I learned early on in life, that reality could be sometimes... boring shall we say. That's not to say that nothing interesting ever happened to us in our normal, run o' the mill, everyday lives. But rather to say that it quickly became apparent that a normal story could capture the attention of an audience, if you, as the storyteller, were willing to make a few minor... embellishments. A simple story about a run in with a bully could become more extravagant and interesting if the bully were a little taller and stronger than he really was, or you could make it more humorous and damaging to said bully's pride if you were willing to give your story bully a few more pimples than actually adorned his face.
But then, I learned another lesson, this one more depressing and less exciting than the first. I learned what I was doing was exaggerating, and that was just a form of lying. I also learned that bullies never liked the stories where you exaggerated their pimples, but that's not the point.
So I learned that lying was bad.
But there was a caveat.
Lying was ok, if you established with your audience ahead of time, that you were indeed lying.
Think about it for a moment. Isn't that exactly what a story teller is? Someone we willingly enter into an agreement with, giving them permission to lie to us and transport us to worlds that do not exist, introduce us to characters that are not real, and often times expose us to powers or abilities that are supernatural and sometimes ridiculous. But we don't really care they are lying to us because we actually want them to.
Some call it 'willing suspension of disbelief' but what we are really saying is:
We want to be lied to.
But it doesn't stop there because there are stipulations we place on this contract. While we want to be deceived, taken from our world and transported into a fictional one from the imagination of the writer, we don't want it to be all lies. We need some truth in the story, something we can ground ourselves in, something we can relate to. The story cannot be all lies, it must be real to us and based - to some degree - in a reality we understand and can insert our own life, emotions, and experiences into.
We want the author or the writer or director or producer to lie to us so well, and make it so believable that, even though we know we are being lied to, it's done to such a degree and with such a measure of finesse and imagination that we don't notice it's a lie.
I mean, when the first child opened the first Superman comic and saw a man wearing bright red underwear outside of skin tight leggings flying around, dodging bullets and saving Lois Lane, that child knew it was a lie, a make-believe fiction; but he didn't care. It was just so cool!
However, Superman, for all of his supermanly awesomeness was cool, not just because he was the man of steel, but because the creators of Superman introduced into the lie a reality that resonates with all of us. In his case (and in the case of most of the super heroes we admire) it was love. He had no weakness of his own, except for the fact that he loved someone who was weak and was afraid of losing her. Losing someone hurts. Therefore, he could be hurt.
And even a child knows the truth of that.