Letter From the Editor: Power in the Time of Deceit
By Mikki Halpin
Everybody talks about all the lying, but no one ever does anything about it.
• • •
I love to play tricks on people. (I also sometimes play them on my cat.) There is just something so delicious about bringing a surprise into someone’s world. When I worked at a huge publishing company, I found joy in interoffice mail. I’d pop a gift—a book about happiness, or one of the hundreds of CDs that seem to pile up at any publication—into an envelope with a note that said, “Of course I thought of you as soon as I saw this!” and send it off to someone picked at random from one of the many mastheads in the building. I still feel immense glee when I think about it.
I’d love to be the recipient of such a gift. First off, you get the thing itself. Second, you get a mystery!!! Not only does someone care about you, but they care enough to give you a little excitement in your life. Damn Joan isn’t quite big enough for this level of operation just now, but I do sometimes sneak into my colleague Dayna’s notebooks and write little things like “I love Mikki” on blank pages toward the end so she’ll find the notes later. I give and give.
There are lots of playful kinds of deceit. There’s the guy who crank-called Sarah Palin. And the one who crank-called Scott Walker. There’s purposeful deceit, like undercover reporting. The thing about all of this subterfuge is that it’s only meaningful when it’s exposed—the purpose of the deceit is for the truth to come out. It’s no fun for me if Dayna never finds the jokes in her notebook, and it’s definitely not worth it for someone to risk their life reporting a story if they don’t get to write it and bring down some corrupt bullshit.
It’s the deceit for deceit’s sake that goes unchecked and uncalled out that’s insidious and damning. The time of deceit, our time, is rife with fake news, lying politicians, think tanks that do anything but, and people who walk around literally thinking that Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster killed. These lies are designed to divide us, keep us from a common set of facts, and prevent us from uniting in real conversations and pushing for real change.
So how do you find power in this age of deceit? How do you call it out? How do you laugh in its face? We’ve got some ideas for you in this issue. First, meet the folks over at Gays Against Guns, who are fighting the NRA’s lies with sparkle, sass, show tunes, and unflinching determination. Their work, along with the nascent youth movement coming out of Parkland and others, is one of the more hopeful things we’ve seen in a while. On Friday, April 20, we’ll be debuting a collaboration with GAG (their term!) on Instagram—for now, read this interview with the organizers.
Another truth warrior: Brooke Binkowski, the managing editor of Snopes, the scrappy investigative website dedicated to exposing every lie on the Internet. NBD, right? Read about why Binkowski considers fake news to be a yeast infection in our country’s vagina, and admire her intrepid team for taking on this beyond-Sisyphean task.
Aunt Freckle is back with sage advice on hiding your age and speaking your truth—while Perrin Ireland is also back, here to talk about the silent lie of ghosting. Stop fucking ghosting! GOD. There are consequences.
We had a little fun with deception and its connection to twinning, copying, and mirror images with our fashion story “Double Vision.” Shot by Sam Cannon, it features twin models Brenn and Jules Lorenzo exploring a fictive space in very-of-the-moment architectural looks. And we took an investigative turn of our own with an exposé on celebrity clones, focusing on the sad tale of the Ginger Ringer, a.k.a. Other Ed, a.k.a. Ed Sheeran’s Sad Clone.
Finally, why not truly take power into your hands and try to trick a trickster? Our interactive video “The Trick” asks you to attempt to deceive magician Jeanette Andrews, a master of deception. See if you can beat her in a game of lies—then decide whether you’re going to use your power for good. Be sure to play “The Trick” today—we’ve got the magic here for one week only before it goes away on April 22.
MIKKI HALPIN is the editor in chief of Damn Joan.