March 22, 2006

Maybe you can amnesia-fake your way into a more glamorous lifestyle.

Doug Bruce, the subject of the documentary "Unknown White Male," claims to have complete amnesia, but how do we know he's not a fake?
Soon after [he showed up at a Coney Island police station professing to know nothing about himself], Bruce became hipster Manhattan's answer to the Elephant Man, an ingratiating medical marvel, except hunky and with an adorable British accent. A crowd of accomplished artists, models and producers orbited in awe. He met the singer Bjork, the director Spike Jonze, the actor Vincent D'Onofrio. He was invited to parties and dinners where he told his story pretty much nonstop....

In the movie and in phone interviews, friends and family say that the pre-amnesia Bruce was a slightly arrogant, hard-edged cynic, and had been his whole life.... [but afterwards, he became nice and childlike.]...

According to friends, Bruce's life pre-amnesia was hardly miserable, but he was trolling for dates on the Internet and communing with a crowd far less glamorous than the one he wound up in. Today, he's dating a knockout of a model -- she appears in the movie and calls him a man without flaws -- and he has a ready-made excuse to break with anyone in his previous life he doesn't consider up to scratch.

"There are good friends that I've had in the past who, I've met them and I just don't get them," Bruce says at one point in the film, sounding like Old School Bruce. "I don't feel it, and so I don't hang out with them, which for them is tough."
Oh, it wouldn't be the fakest way anybody ever gained admission to hipsterdom. In fact, isn't fakery the norm? He deserves his place there even more if he's pulled off this scam. The faker he is, the less fake he is. If he was an arrogant, hard-edged cynic, and had been his whole life, and he still is, he's a man of ravishing consistency.

12 comments:

chezDiva said...

From the opening paragraph:
"On the morning of July 3, 2003, a former stockbroker named Doug Bruce walked into a police station in Coney Island and told the cops that he didn't know his name. Without a wallet or identification, he'd awoken a few minutes earlier on a subway train, befuddled but unharmed, with a case of what doctors call total retrograde amnesia. He could form sentences without a problem, but remembered nothing of his past and only patchy facts about the world."

I tend to be cynical so I would ask Mr. Amnesia: "How did he know to go to a Police Station for help? How did he know where the Police Station was?" Hadn't his memory been wiped out? Just curious.

The only reason I can imagine him faking amnesia would be for a chance at a life do-over. According to the article his life pre-amnesia seemed a bit sad and pathetic. Maybe his life wasn't going as he had planned or dreamed it would be like and he wanted to be able to start from scratch.

If he is faking the amnesia then he has "started over" at a great cost to his family and friends. Of course the above is only true if they are unwitting pawns in his memory-loss game.

Michael Farris said...

Taken at face value (at least as related in the link) his story doesn't pass the sniff test. (chezdiva has very good point about the police)

Stil I wouldn't be surprised if there's a small bit (but no more than that) of truth in it. Maybe he was beat up (by the people he swindled in France? or is that too Agatha Christie?). During that trauma, maybe his subconcious remembered his friend who temporarily lost his memory and decided to blank it all out (I do believe that the subconscious can do that kind of thing). Later, by the time he started getting his memories back he decided he liked not having them (and his new life) more than having them and his old life back. He's since worked it for all it's worth.

The only other option I'll believe is that he's faking the whole thing.

But, it does seem like a very chancy way to upgrade your life, among the possible things that might happen to an amnesiac, I'd generally think that being institutionalized to be more likely (and maybe preferable) to being introduced to Bjork.

While we're here, what about the Piano guy in England, did they ever figure that one out? I was half expecting to see a reference to him, but if it was there I missed it.

Serenity Now said...

Piano guy in England

Ann Althouse said...

Michael: "a very chancy way to upgrade your life..."

All he'd have to do is go normal again at whatever point things didn't work out.

As for the Piano Man, I was going to bring that up. I wrote numerous posts about him. In the end, he was revealed as a hoaxer.

knoxgirl said...

Now, why go hatin' on Bjork? She rules.

Gaius Arbo said...

I was going to post a comment, but suddenly realized I can't remember anything.

Oh well, now I, too can start over.

Michael Farris said...

I don't know if piano guy can be called a "hoaxer" since that (to me) would men he was mentally healthy the whole time and just putting on an act. The impression I have (with some information obviously being held back by british authorities) is that there is a significant degree of mental disturbance there though his story ultimately lacked the mysterious intrigue it seemed to promise at the beginning.

Mark the Pundit said...

I definitely smell a hoax, and really don't care. I mean, sure celebrities are fawning over this fake, but that's just because they finally get to be around someone who is faker than they are...

MajorThomas said...

Okay, let's look closely at this story and what we are expected to believe. First, we are expected to believe that a wired yuppie like this JUST HAPPENED to leave his home one day without wallet, checkbook, ATM card, credit card, ID card, or cell phone (but he DID remember a knapsack, more about that later) Then, we are expected to believe that on this day he JUST HAPPENED to leave home without the aforementioned items, he JUST HAPPENED to come down with amnesia, but was still able to find his way to a police station. At the police station, he JUST HAPPENED to have in his knapsack the phone number for a woman he had dated once, but who apparently realized he was about as shallow as a puddle of rain and didn't want to see him anymore. I would love to talk to the police who handled him, they have very well developed BS detectors, I am certain he JUST HAPPENED to find that phone number when they told him he would need to head down to the local psych hospital for a stay in the overnight ward, as police officers have better things to do with their time then deal with fake amnesiacs, uh excuse me, people who JUST HAPPENED to have this startling chain of events occur to him.
Note how he was "cynical" before, but became childlike after. Since he was trolling for dates on the internet without much success, do you think he decided that women did not want to waste time on a cynic, so he decided to incorporate "childlike" into his new persona? Do you wonder if he was asking himself if Leonardo Dicaprio or Matt Damon would play him in the movie? Do you think that my BS dial is pegged all the way over at 11 by this story? Do you think I am amazed at how many people swallowed not only the hook, but the line, sinker, rod, and reel as well?

Seb said...

Sorry for the late post. This film just aired in Australia. I really want to believe this film. I'm an actor and bought his "character" totally and I'm used to seeing a lot of bad impro. However, If it is a fake...WHO BETTER? than a bored, millionaire living away from his family and old friends to dream something like this up. One of the great joys of moving to a new country is
re-inventing yourself. perhaps this guy just took it to the extreme...

hitmandrw said...

Now I'm not from NY, but all I want to know is how the hell he got on the train in the first place. I mean where I'm from you have to buy a ticket in order to board a train. SO you mean to tell me that he brought just enough money for the train and nothing else but a knapsack with only one phone number in it!!!

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