Sunday, October 4, 2009

7th Art: The Invention of Lying (2009)

Ricky Gervais is superb in "The Invention of Lying" (2009), an unpretentious but inspired and creative one-man show that, despite its light-handed exploration of the subject, will keep you thinking about the feasibility and desirability of a society where nobody is able to tell lies.

Lies in the movie are broadly defined not only as falsehoods and untruths, but also as unverifiable statements. In such a society everybody is absolutely straightforward and factual, hence there's no creativity in the fictional, speculative or untestable sense of it. The result is a society that can be described in the best case as boring and in the worst case as frightening.

Interestingly, it becomes clear that a completely and pathologically truthful society is unfeasible for two reasons: (1) life would be psychologically unbearable, and (2) it would give a huge economic advantage to anyone able to lie, or, as economists say, lying would be a dominant strategy in too many situations, providing an incredible amount of power to the liar. After watching the movie, it became quite easy to understand why the ability to lie is an essential human trait.

In any case, game theory and economics put aside, the movie is incredibly funny, so don't miss this opportunity to laugh your head off.

PS: here's Cowen making similar points.


Fernando Carreiro Albuquerque said...

Punning: Lying is truly necessary.

jaze said...

Though The invention of lying movie has taken many actors who are famous for comedy movies, were not used enough. So if Ricky Garvais used them this movie could be more fun. Tina Fey also played as Shelley but I do not think she has done her best.


sabeen said...

I like the theme of the movie and Ricky Garvais performed really well.


vlada vd merwe said...

Lying is one of the most common wrongful acts that each member of society carries out on a weekly basis—researchers say it is an inevitable part of human nature. Lying is a form of deception, but not all forms of deception are lies. When asked about the ethics of lying, most people would admit that lies are wrong—unless they are substantiated by good reason for it. Are there indicative circumstances for which lying is necessary?

There are many reasons for the unethical undertone of lying; mainly that this act breaks trust between all members of society. However, a study carried out by psychologists in Poland found that lying is an integral segment and one of the most important social skills necessary for maintaining good relations.
The movie The Invention of Lying is a terrific comedy directed by the great Ricky Gervais. This is a smartly crafted film with great acting and it has a wonderful script and story. The film’s premise, announced over the opening credits, has the starkness of science fiction: what if humanity was incapable of lying? What if everyone everywhere always told the truth?

Personally, I think lying can be good. Lying can delay pain and suffering, prevent harm for example by sugar-coating events that compromise national security, and can also ease certain social situations. Lying is a form of a corporate veil that individuals can hide behind in order to prevent broken bonds and social relations.