Who are the “Real People”?

We hear the phrase “real people” or “real person” a lot these days, especially on the news or on a talk show. “Oh, she’s a real person,” the host will gush. If you watch TV, it is likely that you will hear the term on a daily basis.

There seems to be a dividing line being drawn between “us and them”—us being those of us who work for a living and those who are rich and famous. Does that mean that those who are rich and famous are not real or that they don’t work?  Let’s give some thought to this.

What is being said about real people?

There are a lot of interesting, and sometimes humorous, quotes about “real people.” Here are a few of my favorites:

There’s something magical about spending a Sunday night watching real people at a deli, then watching fake people pretending to be real on TV, then engaging in (arguably) false interaction with (arguably) real people on the Internet. Never at any prior point in time has this been possible.  Diablo Cody

We’re all used to seeing pretty people. I want to see real people. Amy Sedaris  (My question here is, “Can  “real people” be pretty too, or are they all “ugly?”)

When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep walking. Sarah Jessica Parker

Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and when people start getting it confused, that means they need to sit down with some real people. Chuck D

I think it will be truly glorious when women become real people and have the whole world open to them. Isak Dinesen

I love documentaries, I like observing real people. Tracey Ullman

It was easy to believe, between lessons on Shakespeare and Dickens and Austen, that all of the great stories had already been written by dead Europeans. But every time I saw ‘The Outsiders’, I knew better. It was the first time I’d realized that real people write books. Ally Carter

And my personal favorite (and it raises questions about what happens to “fake people,”  is there a pseudo-eternity and where are the fake places?):  

I think hell’s a real place where real people spend a real eternity. Jerry Falwell

Let’s talk about “real people.”

Sit back and do some imaging with me. Imagine people coming down the aisle of an auditorium and walking up onto the stage. In this line-up you have:

  • A man in a costly business suit and shoes
  • A woman in hospital scrubs
  • A woman in a burka
  • A man in coveralls with grease spots
  • A woman in coveralls with grease spots and her hair cropped short
  • A woman in a designer dress, 6-inch spiked heeled shoes and expensive gold and diamond jewelry
  • A man in jeans with holes in the knees and a tee shirt that carries an “off-color” message
  • A man with an apron and a chef’s toque
  • A woman in yoga pants and a cropped tee.
  • A man in a police uniform
  • A man in tight jeans, a western shirt, and cowboy boots
  • A woman in a waitress uniform
  • A woman in a miniskirt, sandals and a very tight tee
  • A man in “drag.”
  • A woman in slacks, inexpensive shirt, sneakers and a hairdo that looks like it was combed with an eggbeater
  • A woman in a costly business suit

Pick the REAL People

There are sixteen people. It is your job to pick out the “real people.” Who would you pick?

Now, put dark skin on two men and two women and tan skin on two men and two women. Does that make a difference in the one you chose as the real person?

Now make two men and two women very obese. With this change, who would you pick?

What if you had a bio of each person and you learned:

  • the woman in the waitress uniform is a “superstar” dressed for a part in an upcoming star-studded movie?
  • the man in the coveralls worked on his Ferrari for fun when he’s not at his desk in a large corporation
  • the woman in yoga pants is a  teacher in a school for the gifted?

Which one of these would you describe as real? Why? Why not?

The policeman has to leave because a bank robbery is in progress and you learn that your spouse is in that bank and the woman in scrubs takes care of your sick parent in ICU at the local hospital.  Are they real?  But what if the policeman and the woman in scrubs were part of the cast of a soap opera?  Can you make a choice now? Would they still be “real?”

What if . . .

What if you discovered that the man in cowboy boots has an IQ of 75 and the man in drag has an IQ of 170? Is one more real than the other?

What if the woman in the designer dress and expensive jewelry is a thief and the woman with the eggbeater hair is a single mother of three children who works two jobs and goes to school part time?

So if appearance doesn’t make you real, and IQ doesn’t make you real,  what does?

Now, imagine that you can prick the finger of each one with a needle. They all bleed red blood. Is the redness of the blood different according to the color of their skin, the size of their body or the expense and stylishness of their clothes?

So. Each bleeds red blood. The pin pick hurts each of them. Who is real and who is not?

Who decides who gets to be categorized as “real” and who is not? You? Me? The Media?

O.K., now let’s get edgy.

You have three women, each wearing the exact same outfit, jewelry and all. Same dress, shoes and designer handbag.  One has dark skin, one has tan skin, and one has white skin. Which one is real?  Why?

You have three clergymen: one in a suit, one in a cassock, and one wearing a turban. Which is real? Which one is “a man of God?” Why?

You see three very famous movie stars. One is helping in a soup kitchen, one is shopping, and one is taking care of her children. Is one more real than the others? Why?

Line up the President of the United States, the king of Norway and the Emperor or Japan. Is one of them more real than the others?  Are they real? Is one more real than the others. Why?

O.K., O.K. We’ve beaten that to death.

The point is, each of us is real. Fame and wealth have nothing to do with it, nor does ethnicity, age or gender.

The question is. “Do ‘Real People’ need self-improvement?”

What’s YOUR answer?

By Irene Conlan

Comments are closed.