120: Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be
Jan 22, 1999
Three stories of people pretending to be something they're not, and what happens to them.
- Viola disguises herself as a man, takes a job working for this guy with whom she promptly falls in love. He believes the pretense: He thinks Viola is a man, so he never gives her a second look. This is the problem with pretending: If you're successful, and people actually believe you, you can get stuck in an identity you don't want. The other problem is this: Some people actually come to believe they are the person they're pretending to be. (4 minutes)
- Ron Copeland is a historical interpreter at the Conner Prairie Living History Museum, outside of Indianapolis. For several months a year, in his job, he pretends to be a slaveowner in the old south. People come looking to experience the slave experience. He screams at them. He bosses them around. And it's starting to change him. (14 minutes)
- There's the pretending we do as individuals, and there's the organized pretending that happens in group therapy sessions, in the roleplaying games that are done in some clinical settings. Jack Hitt tells the story of the Mother of All Roleplaying Games. It was in the 1970s and he was there. (11 minutes)
- Alix Spiegel travels with a group of white suburbanites as they pretend to be runaway slaves, at the Conner Prairie Living History Museum. Her goal: to find out what it is that people actually get out of this elaborate game of pretend. (24 minutes)