Our devices have essentially negated a millenia of social norms and placed us in a worst-case-scenario world where we are acting, volunteering even, as our own Big Brother. It is sobering to note that we have so much access to evidence that no story is to be believed UNLESS there’s photo/video proof. Such is the case for four American swimmers who have sparked an international incident with their drunk story from the Rio games.
Two of the top four top-grossing comedies of all time are the first two installments of The Hangover, um, trilogy.
Why is that?
Because drunk stories are the best.
Drunk stories are so the best that when I’m out with my buddies — especially as I get older — I almost wish as soon as that first sip of foam slips down my throat that I could fast forward to the next morning. To someone’s living room or a hotel room, where a handful of guys are burping, scratching, texting their significant others, peeing or trying to pee, tripping over stuff, trying to find a shoe, thinking of a gadget idea to take on Shark Tank that automatically locates your wallet/keys/phone the morning after and adjusting their boxers before a natural pall sets over the room and someone asks the eternal question:
“What happened after we got those hot dogs?”
Post-go-out story time for both men and women goes all the way back to our cave-dwelling ancestors (I know this because I’ve watched enough Flintstones to know what goes on at the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo stays within the circle of trust at the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo.) More than this, I know that we are pack animals and the more bonding you can do well past your regular bedtime, the more likely those relationships are to survive the rigors of work and family life and separation and everyday anxiety.
The only problem is — and this is a very recent phenomenon — the old Mark Twain quote which SPECIFICALLY applies to drunken tales/revisionist history (in other words, all history), “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story” has been universally rendered inconsequential in the era of devices.
Yes, instead of waking up and talking smack and trying, like a half dozen amateur sleuths, to piece together the events of 12:13 a.m. to 4:28 a.m., there is actual photographic evidence to run counter to whatever it is you think happened, including, but not limited to: Was that guy/girl as cute as you are describing? (No.) Were those nachos really piled three feet high? (No.) Was that bartender really encouraging you to dance up there? (No.) Was the Uber driver really laughing at your impromptu freestyle raps? (No.) Were the police called, “for no reason?” (No. Not in the least bit.)
So there you go.
Our devices have essentially negated a millenia of social norms and placed us in a worst-case-scenario world where we are acting, volunteering even, as our own Big Brother. It is sobering to note that we have so much access to evidence that no story is to be believed UNLESS there’s photo/video proof.
…As if that was ever the point in the first place.
Which brings us to Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz, four American swimmers who claimed they were robbed and assaulted at gunpoint over the weekend by a couple alleged assailants masquerading as Rio police officers.
The only video evidence of the swimmers having any kind of altercation with a local entity was them getting into a scrap with a gas station bathroom door early Sunday morning on the way back to their dorm after a party at a place called Club France.
Which lends credence to the old saying: NOTHING good happens after midnight at places called Club France.
While Lochte shared his story about being held up then promptly bounced out of the country all hangover-sweaty, Conger and Bentz were removed from their respective flights Wednesday and detained — to re-tell, um, their drunk stories. Feigen is also still in-country waiting to make his statement.
Of course the telling of tall tales four days later in a foreign country’s police station with all the medias watching isn’t quite as fun as the hotel room the morning after.
At the gas station in question, the swimmers stopped in to use the bathroom. According to the account by investigators as reported in the NYT, damage was done to the bathroom door (clearly, the bathroom door was talking shit — it happens.) The guys got together with the manager and a security guard and someone at the gas station called the police, but by the time a police car arrived, the swimmers were gone. Witnesses, including a translator for the swimmers, said the four paid some money to the manager before leaving.
Later on, a closed-circuit video picks up the swimmers checking back into the village, fully credentialed, kind of half-out-of-it-giggling like you do when you show up back at home at 6 a.m. Skynyrd’s Tuesday’s Gone was playing in the background.
four two Olympics ago this would have been fine. Hot, Olympic medal-winning swimmers go out to slay at Club France, get in scrap with bathroom door, arrive back home safely, have a hangover breakfast and a tall tale to tell and then go check on some track and field — no big deal. We live, however, in a hyper-media cycle — one that has, frankly, propelled a man who is running for president as a fucking joke to become a major party candidate.
This Olympics also happens to be a hyper-sensitive time for the host country. Brazil is going through a bunch of stuff right now financially, environmentally and politically and the last thing they need in the two weeks they get to showcase that “things are OK” is for some guy who dyed his hair Slim Shady-style to say he got held up by fake police and his wallet stolen somewhere just outside the Olympic village.
So THAT is why Brazilian judges ordered the three remaining swimmers to stay in the country and wanted them to surrender their passports. While Lochte, relay gold in hand, is sitting pretty back in the States, Feigen said Thursday he is getting “shit-stormed” and Conger and Bentz are still giving their statements — trying not to think about what happened to Joaquin Phoenix in Return to Paradise (I mean, only bad things are going to happen your best friend is Vince Vaughn and your lawyer is Anne Heche.)
If it is determined the Americans did file a false report (basically all Brazil can hang on them at this point) the max penalty is up to six months detention or a fine.
Regardless of whether there is any truth to his tale, Lochte better have his check book and perhaps an apology ready.
…And the rest of us now know, the era of the great drunk story (not to mention any good Hangover sequels) — is officially over.