Friday, September 2, 2011

Going undercover

by Meredith Cole

I was raised by academics and hippies who instilled in me a deep skepticism for anything that requires blind faith. Any group that demands that you do whatever they say without using your own decision making powers makes me definitely want to back quickly away. Joining a cult was never much a problem for me.

I did have friends who grew up on ashrams, and I had an English teacher in high school who was a former guru (although he didn't try to convince us of much--only that Moby Dick was worth reading), so I know that it's not just foolish, passive people who join cults. Some people find life challenging, and hope that if they put their faith in someone else then everything will magically be okay. But absolute power corrupts absolutely, and experience shows that the leaders often end up doing unspeakable things to their followers because they can (see Waco, Warren Jeffs, etc., for more on that).

I don't know of too many cult in Williamsburg. Hipsters are generally too cynical to join cults (unless you count the cult of Steve Jobs/Apple). Perhaps the closest thing we have to a cult is the Hasidim, who follow a living Rabbi. But I can't imagine sending Lydia undercover into the Hasidic community. It makes me think of that ridiculous Melanie Griffith movie "A Stranger Among Us."

I mean, would any Hasidic person be fooled for a second? I think they might have dyed her hair brown for the movie, but there was nothing they could do about her voice. And there's more to infiltrating a group than putting on a costume, as Harrison Ford quickly discovered in The Witness. There are accents, attitudes, the way you carry yourself -- all which identify you as an insider or outsider of a group.

To protect someone or uncover evil, Lydia would probably willing to give infiltrating a cult a try. She loves to put on costumes and new personas. But she isn't a very good liar, so she would very likely get caught rolling her eyes or making a mistake. I think the Scientologists are probably safe from her for now.


Reece said...

Nice post, Meredith. And I have to agree that Melanie Griffith in "A Stranger Among Us" is one of the all-time bad casting decisions.

Kelli Stanley said...

Great post, Meredith, and let's give thanks for healthy skepticism ... it's amazing how many people insist that the Emperor has clothes on!! ;)

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Meredith!

Being a bad liar is such a cross to bear. I'm a bad liar myself, and I see all the good liars having more fun.

But at least bad liars can be trusted. :) Maybe.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks to all of you for stopping by (on Labor Day no less!). I was off lolling on a beach with no internet access... And did not labor on Labor day. Now I need to catch up with everyone's posts and news...