On the necessity of deception
James is preparing for Dancing With the Stars. This means he has to hide from distractions, which is not easy for a celebrity. He needs more than physical training for dancing – vanity & ambition would suffice. He needs confidence he desperately lacks. He knows that the one thing held more contemptible than a coward is a sweaty coward. He turns to medicine to prevent the sweating. He would be less given to this sort of thing if celebrity were more about reputation, less about image.
James’s predicament opens a dead-serious quarrel. It first emerges as Luther’s combination of obedience & discipline versus Chloe’s combination of freedom & pleasure. These may be combined to an extent. What is good for James might be the kind of freedom attained through disciplining the body. He would then only need to obey those pleasures compatible with his health or vigor.
Here comes the problem. Luther both loves James & is paid by him. Chloe is in a similar position. James chooses Luther because he trusts the man with the job. Mutual advantage would seem to be trustworthy. Chloe turns out to be right, however, but that does not change the fact that she is not trustworthy. Discipline is driven by ambition for excellence. Chloe thinks that’s a problem. James cannot compete with Superman – he is far too comic.
But Chloe learns that she cannot win her way; she has to seem more trustworthy. This opens another conflict. Chloe mocks cruelly everyone who disappoints her; June is always there with a kind word. Chloe learns deception not from June, who cannot tell that her art of being friendly could be used for very unfriendly purposes, but from June’s teacher, Kelly Rippa, the friendliest creature under the sun, than whom no one is better at pretending to like all Americans.
Chloe sees the uses of flattery immediately & only needs to learn to flatter people for whom she feels contempt. She is learning to be a celebrity in order to help a celebrity. Dirty work, but friends… In order to win the conflict over ends, Chloe has to concede the conflict over means. Then even that seems too much, so she reverts to her own means: She humiliates James before the nation, in order to convince him to stop taking himself so seriously.
James learns quickly what prince Hal knew: It is best to soar from a low position; the struggle seems greater; & people are far more grateful for your success when they fear your failures. June, in her moralizing way, thinks that friendship is not kind words, but tough words. She utterly ignores what Chloe learned about the human reluctance to hear ugly truths…