Don’t Take the Fake!

Charles Van Doren appearing on an episode of NBC's Twenty-One in the 1950s


Charles Van Doren became a TV star in 1958 on the NBC show Twenty-One. In that show, contestants competed against each other in games based on intelligence and how much factual knowledge they knew. He mesmerized TV audiences with his superior intellect. He badly beat thirteen competitors in a row and won over one million dollars. He was able to name the second, third, fourth, and fifth wives of King Henry VIII. Then, it was discovered that he had been given the answers before the questions were asked. He was a fake!

NBC even taught him how to act in front of the camera. He would have a puzzled look on his face as he tried to remember the answers. He was taught a special technique for mopping his brow in dramatic fashion. But he was a cheat. Van Doren wanted to be rich and famous, but he died in 2019 as a derelict and a fake.

Charles Van Doren appearing on an episode of NBC's Twenty-One in the 1950s, A Fake Contestant.

We read numerous accounts of fakes. The world was fooled last year when Thomas J. Mace-Archer-Mills, Esq. posed as an expert with an English accent and provided TV analysis during the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He was really from upstate New York and had perfected his accent while starring in a high school production of Oliver! He fooled everybody—for a while. 

The fake deceives people and distorts reality. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently played in an exhibition hockey game. The game had real professional players and professional officials. The 66-year-old Putin was nimble on his skates and scored a remarkable eight goals! Who has ever seen anybody score eight goals in a legitimate hockey match? Putin had defenders and goalies faked out of position, and slow-motion replays revealed that they appeared to be letting him score. I’m not a hockey expert, but scoring eight goals against a professional team is more than an “appearance” of letting the person score.

Reality TV isn’t always real. It’s staged to look real. Did you ever watch Elizabeth and Jeff Newcamp on House Hunters? In an interview, Elizabeth indicated they appeared on two episodes, and in neither episode were they actually house hunting. One time they had already closed on the house they “chose” in the episode; the other time they’d already lived in their house for a year.

In the episode where they were already living in the house they were “observing to buy,” a moving company was hired to move them out of their own house. In one of the outtakes, Elizabeth confessed that she inadvertently opened a closet door that she forgot to empty for the episode! You never saw that! Reality T.V. doesn’t mean real.

Our world has enough fakes—what we need are some real, genuine, authentic people. Our world needs people who can be trusted and don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. 

Jesus said, “Fake messiahs and lying preachers are going to pop up everywhere. Their impressive credentials and dazzling performances will pull the wool over the eyes of even those who ought to know better. So watch out. I’ve given you fair warning.” (Mark 13:21-23 MSG)

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