Dear Tell All: I went to a military funeral recently that included an honor guard, five-rifle salute and a bugler playing "Taps," then found out later that the bugler wasn't actually playing! He was faking it! During the ceremony I thought, "This guy is amazing," because it sounded incredible and seemed so effortless. But something didn't seem quite right; it was too effortless. There was no pressure or movement in his face, and he wasn't breathing deeply enough.
I mentioned this to my husband later, and he confirmed my suspicions. He said that because of a chronic shortage of musicians, the military had developed a special bugle that plays a prerecorded, digital version of "Taps" at the push of a button. I have to admit that it sounded great, but something about this just seems wrong. Military funerals are all about dignity and respect. Yet what's respectful about someone pretending to play taps?
Dear Ears: Remember Obama's inauguration? Four of the world's finest musicians - cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill - performed, and they did actually play their instruments. But what was amplified to the audience and broadcast to millions watching on television was a recording, made two days earlier. The explanation from organizers was that it was so cold that it would have been impossible to keep the instruments in tune.
Both of these incidents are examples of what I think is a disturbing trend: the assumption that it's completely acceptable to fake public performances, especially in the pursuit of perfection. In defending the inaugural Milli-Vanilli incident, spokeswoman Carole Florman said, "It would never have occurred to me to announce it. The fact they were forced to perform to tape did not seem relevant." Not relevant? Really?
This trend isn't confined to music. People around the world watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics in China with awe, only to discover later that the fireworks weren't real. They were computer generated; painstakingly created months earlier by a special-effects team.
How do you all feel about this sparkling new world, where home-run records spiral through the stratosphere because the athletes are all on steroids; where plus-size models are airbrushed to make them more perfectly plump; where everyone is sexy because we're all wearing Spanx?
Personally, I think it's despicable. Then again, maybe I'm just full of hot gas. So I'd love to hear your opinion.
,i>Do you have a question about life or love in Madison? Write Tell All, 101 King St., Madison, WI, 53703. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.