[T]he ideal of sincerity has long ago been devalued, rendered commercial or quaint. Today, for example, it is associated with Coldplay, mewling God-and-country Republicans and weepie cable-television dramas like "Six Feet Under" that appeal mostly to women and gay men.But "Six Feet Under," it is a woman, Brenda, who contrasts with all the mewlers on the show. I don't want to do spoilers, so read Heffernan's article if you want the details. She's got some good ones!
Authenticity, on the other hand, is regarded as rougher stuff, a man's job. Authenticity is gin to sincerity's chardonnay. (Look for it on "The Sopranos" and "Deadwood.") It suggests, as Trilling puts it, "a more strenuous moral experience" than does sincerity, as well as "a less acceptant and genial view of the social circumstances of life." Authenticity, in other words, is a confrontation not with the self, which its practitioners regard as elusive and false, but with death, horror, being, nothingness.
August 8, 2005
Brenda said on last night's "Six Feet Under." She was refusing the vodka her mother offered. She also rejected the funeral poetry as "maudlin." Virginia Heffernan has an interesting (spoiler filled) piece assessing the series, which showed its third-to-last episode Sunday night. Heffernan contrasts "sincerity" and "authenticity":