Fear and clothing: Instagram and mounds of other grams
A weekly reverie on the vagaries and charms of fashion
Lately real life is fast resembling a telenovela. If you work in the media the everyday is a rollercoaster of emotion, drama, pregnant pauses and a couple of well-aimed bitch slaps. All that is missing is a heavy-handed violin-based musical soundtrack to accompany all the melodrama. What we do have in spades thanks to Eskom is mood lighting by way of candlelight.
Politics aside, I have been fascinated by the peculiar nature of truth. These days fiction is truthified and truth is fictionalised, and not only on Instagram. Now people are burdened by the newly minted psychological condition of Instamorphia (I should probably trademark this).
How can your real self ever measure up to your Instagram filter? What happens if you only ever post photos of yourself with that filter that gives you double-sized green eyes, flawless skin and a chiselled jawline – but your real face is the brown-eyed, dumpier, wrinkled version of yourself? Do you instantly try to find ways to cross the reality barrier? Do you only ever manifest in the cyberworld – doomed to live there in your strange Insta half-life? Do you battle the perception beast and the bank to pay for interventions that will help you look more like your fictional self? Or do you just accept that your fictional self, like Zeno’s arrow, is a paradox. It is a target you will never reach, a physical impossibility.
Perhaps the most peculiar rendition of this strange elision between truth and fiction has culminated in the El Chapo trial. Now that Mr Guzman has been found guilty on all counts let’s take a moment to consider the surreal madness anyone who has followed the story has witnessed.
My personal highlight was when Alejandro Edda, the actor who plays the El Chapo character on Narcos: Mexico, came to court to study his character in real life. The real Guzman was delighted and waved at the actor – understandably so! This was sign meeting the signifier in some meta state. Crazy.
More in the line of telenovela subplot (which incidentally is also immortalised on Netflix as El Chapo) was the episode of sartorial shade-throwing when the real El Chapo and his real wife dressed up in burgundy velvet smoking jackets on the day his real mistress came to tearfully testify about that time they fled naked down a tunnel as the narcos beat their safe house door down. Yup.
Were the matching jackets a belated show of marital solidarity? Or perhaps just a knowing wink to the writers of all the many TV series. A visual prompt that strains credulity? Think again: you just cannot make this stuff up.