It’s all over the news, but probably for all the wrong reasons.
Hollywood actresses Felicity Hoffman of Desperate Housewives fame (a show I never watched, by the way) and Lori Loughlin, best known as Aunt Becky from Full House (another show I never saw) were busted yesterday along with a number of coaches, admissions officers and SAT officials in what is being touted as the biggest college cheating scandal ever uncovered. Read, and be nauseated:
Prosecutors said parents paid an admissions consultant from 2011 through last month to bribe coaches and administrators to falsely make their children look like star athletes to boost their chances of getting into college. The consultant also hired ringers to take college entrance exams for students, and paid off insiders at testing centers to alter students’ scores.
Parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admission,
Did anybody suggest to these families that tutoring might have been cheaper, without carrying the risk of a jail sentence? Or were these kids such unmotivated blocks of wood that they simply couldn’t be roused to put in the work to, like, learn a thing or two?
I guess the Derek Zoolander School for Kids Who Don’t Read Good and Want To Do Other Stuff Good Too was all booked up.
As you can imagine, this has led to a lot of outrage on the part of the public—which, unlike the ginned-up outrage over Tucker Carlson’s bon mots, is actually justifiable. But I think most of that has to do with the disgust people have for what they see as the entitlement mentality of rich folks and their spoiled brat offspring, who don’t care about shafting some poor kid who had the grades and the smarts but got passed over to make room for some wealthy snowflake. Plus there’s a healthy amount of schadenfreude involved, with the nerds more than happy to see the beautiful people finally going down for breaking the rules the rest of us are expected to follow.
Even if that’s good for a few chuckles, though, for me there is a different lesson to be learned from all this—and you’ll have to forgive me, because it’s a real buzzkill. That’s because this ugly incident just seems so indelibly suited to our times, in which everything you see and everything you hear is totally, completely, depressingly fake.
Fake news. Fake outrage. Fake hate crimes. Hell, even the politicians have gone from simply being phonies to outright fakes. For those of us who weathered the boy bands of the 1990s, this might seem part and parcel of modern life—but at least back then, we had a better grasp on reality because we spent most of our time living in it. These days, people seem to spend far more time in the virtual, where the fakery has gotten so good we prefer it to the real and flawed. So why should college admissions be any different?
“Olivia is so smart and talented! She really deserves to go to USC.”
But her SATs are terrible.
“Dreams can overcome numbers.”
She can’t even fill out a college application or write an admissions essay.
“Nonsense. Her spirit can’t be contained in an essay. We’ll just hire someone to channel that energy. It’ll be her words, just flowing through somebody else’s pen.”
Well, for $500 grand he better be freakin’ Tolstoy. Where’s the checkbook?
Oh, and then there’s this, tangential but kind of related:
For two years, a special counsel has been investigating Donald Trump for what increasingly looks like imaginary collusion with Russia—when all along, an actual crime for which there is ample proof goes unindicted, untried, unpunished. That’s because this is the fantasy that official Washington, and its leftist allies in the media, would rather sell to us—one in which a significant chunk of the country would like to believe as well.
If that isn’t living in your own little world while the one around you crumbles, I can’t even imagine what is.
So, as I said, this college scandal seems pretty representative of the moment we find ourselves in. The question is, do we wake up and see things as they really are, or do we go back to sleep content in our illusions—until the day of reckoning inevitably comes?