PDA

View Full Version : The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things trailer



Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 08:49 PM
I found the trailer for the The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, the movie based on JT Leroy's book of (allegedly autobiographical) short stories:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wIm0TU2T2vM&search=the%20heart%20is%20deceit

Just to recap, JT Leroy is the author that never really existed. He wrote several books, Jeremiah, Sarah, Harold's End, and The Heart... and claimed that much of it was semi-autobiographical, based on his experiences with his abusive truckstop postitute mother. He was later adopted by a woman named Laura Albert. Recently, it has come out that all his books were written by Albert, and the person appearing in public rubbing elbows with celebrities claiming to be JT was Albert's sister-in-law in a wig.

The film is directed by Asia Agrento, the beautiful and talented daughter of Italian Horror director Dario Argento. She also plays Jeremiah's mother, Sarah. Argento did not find out that Leroy was not actually a real person until after she finished the film. It is supposed to be released in America some time this year.

What do you think about this film? Have you seen it? Will you see it? I'm excited, because I am a big fan of Asia Argento. I have mixed feelings about JT Leroy's work. While some of what Laura Albert did was clearly unethical, I love the writing. I think it's interesting, because there are currently a rash of 1-star reviews by people who have either clearly not read the book, or have decided that the only way the book could be any good is if JT Leroy were real.

In my view, good writing is good writing, and it doesn't matter who the author actually it. If people were reading these books because they believed them to be shocking trues stories, instead of just good books, they were probably reading them for the wrong reasons. I understand why people may have ethical issues with what Laura Albert did, but that should have no bearing on the quality of the writing itself. As for those who claim that she is exploitive for writing fiction about child abuse, I disagree completely, because fiction writers can write about anything they choose. I think the fact that people are so angry only shows that Jeremiah was such a compelling character that people were incredibly disappointed to find out he wasn't real.

If you found out any one of your favorite writers was really a 40 year old housewife, how would that change your perception of their work?

As far as I know, Laura Albert has never made any kind of statement about why she did this. I would be very interested to hear her explanation.

Aconite
02-28-2006, 09:32 PM
(The following post is a PSA and a shameless plug from the Life Story Writing mod.)

Good topic, Celia.

If anyone feels inclined to take up this kind of discussion in Life Story Writing (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=42) as well as here, come on over and be welcome. It's quiet there now, but we can get it rockin'.

robeiae
02-28-2006, 09:53 PM
I question the relative value/merit/quality of the books when the author pulls stupid stunts for free publicity. Yeah, I know--I'm naive.

Still, the very idea of autobiographical/semi-autobiographical and even biographical works assume that such are interesting because they are based on reality. How much is lost when that idea is removed? If the draw is, "this is true," and it turns out not to be, why should I still be interested?

As to the quality of the writing, I wouldn't know, as I haven't read any of the books; but if it was so good, while all the nonsense?

Rob :)

Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 09:55 PM
I posted this in Take It Outside, and Aconite, the awesome Life Story Writing mod, encouraged me to post it over here.

I found the trailer for the The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things, the movie based on JT Leroy's book of (allegedly autobiographical) short stories:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=wIm0TU2T...t%20is%20deceit (http://youtube.com/watch?v=wIm0TU2T2vM&search=the%20heart%20is%20deceit)

Just to recap, JT Leroy is the author that never really existed. He wrote several books, Jeremiah, Sarah, Harold's End, and The Heart... and claimed that much of it was semi-autobiographical, based on his experiences with his abusive truckstop postitute mother. He was later adopted by a woman named Laura Albert. Recently, it has come out that all his books were written by Albert, and the person appearing in public rubbing elbows with celebrities claiming to be JT was Albert's sister-in-law in a wig.

The film is directed by Asia Agrento, the beautiful and talented daughter of Italian Horror director Dario Argento. She also plays Jeremiah's mother, Sarah. Argento did not find out that Leroy was not actually a real person until after she finished the film. It is supposed to be released in America some time this year.

What do you think about this film? Have you seen it? Will you see it? I'm excited, because I am a big fan of Asia Argento. I have mixed feelings about JT Leroy's work. While some of what Laura Albert did was clearly unethical, I love the writing. I think it's interesting, because there are currently a rash of 1-star reviews by people who have either clearly not read the book, or have decided that the only way the book could be any good is if JT Leroy were real.

In my view, good writing is good writing, and it doesn't matter who the author actually it. If people were reading these books because they believed them to be shocking true stories, instead of just good books, they were probably reading them for the wrong reasons. I understand why people may have ethical issues with what Laura Albert did, but that should have no bearing on the quality of the writing itself. As for those who claim that she is exploitive for writing fiction about child abuse, I disagree completely, because fiction writers can write about anything they choose. I think the fact that people are so angry only shows that Jeremiah was such a compelling character that people were incredibly disappointed to find out he wasn't real.

If you found out any one of your favorite writers was really a 40 year old housewife, how would that change your perception of their work?

As far as I know, Laura Albert has never made any kind of statement about why she did this. I would be very interested to hear her explanation.

Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 09:57 PM
Thank you, Aconite! I reposted it over there. It would be interesting to hear from people who do life story writing to see what they think about this.

Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 10:04 PM
Still, the very idea of autobiographical/semi-autobiographical and even biographical works assume that such are interesting because they are based on reality. How much is lost when that idea is removed? If the draw is, "this is true," and it turns out not to be, why should I still be interested?

The whole "this is true" aspect has never been of interest to me. If it's true, and the writing is bad, I don't want to read it.


As to the quality of the writing, I wouldn't know, as I haven't read any of the books; but if it was so good, while all the nonsense?

That's what nobody knows. And that's what I'm interested in finding out. Why did Laura Albert do this? Did she think no one would be interested in what a 40 year old housewife had to day? Did she try to publish this as her own fiction first? Did she create a character, and want so badly for him to be real that she convinced everyone that he was?

robeiae
02-28-2006, 10:13 PM
If it's true, and the writing is bad, I don't want to read it.I agree. But if it's not true, why am I reading it? Just for the writing? What about the story, the characters, the plots? See, if you claim a story is based on reality, it lets you off the hook, so to speak: the characters can be whatever you want, as can the plot; the reader accepts (if the writing is at least passable) that they are real, so you have no reason to be original. Simple tragedy is sufficient for your plot.


That's what nobody knows. And that's what I'm interested in finding out. Why did Laura Albert do this? Did she think no one would be interested in what a 40 year old housewife had to day? Did she try to publish this as her own fiction first? Did she create a character, and want so badly for him to be real that she convinced everyone that he was?Lying is still lying; I don't care what her reasoning was, anymore than I care for the reasons of James Frey.

Rob :)

Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 10:18 PM
I agree. But if it's not true, why am I reading it? Just for the writing? What about the story, the characters, the plots? See, if you claim a story is based on reality, it lets you off the hook, so to speak: the characters can be whatever you want, as can the plot; the reader accepts (if the writing is at least passable) that they are real, so you have no reason to be original. Simple tragedy is sufficient for your plot.

I don't think that it should be. I think that people who write autobiographical fiction and memoir have every bit as much responsibility to make characters real and believable as fiction writers do. If someone is cartoony, and I can't understand their motivations, I can't accept, "But it happened," as an explanation. If it's real, you should be able to make it real in writing.


Lying is still lying; I don't care what her reasoning was, anymore than I care for the reasons of James Frey.

Rob :)

As I said, I can understand if people have issues with what she did, but I don't think it says anything about the quality of the writing.

ETA: If Laura Albert did this because she couldn't get a book published when she is this talented, I might as well give up now, because there's no hope for me.

robeiae
02-28-2006, 10:28 PM
I might as well give up now, because there's no hope for me. That's just crazy talk!

But seriously, I'm sure there are those occasional 'diamonds in the rough' who could never make it, despite all their talent, but they are few and far between, IMO. And anyway, even if she said she did it because she couldn't get noticed, we don't know how hard she really tried, do we?

Rob :)

Celia Cyanide
02-28-2006, 10:45 PM
But seriously, I'm sure there are those occasional 'diamonds in the rough' who could never make it, despite all their talent, but they are few and far between, IMO. And anyway, even if she said she did it because she couldn't get noticed, we don't know how hard she really tried, do we?

Rob :)

Yes, that is very true. And we really can't make assumptions about why she did it. For all we know, she could be completely out of touch with reality, and believe that JT is real, and Savannah Knoop dresses up like him just to humor her.

However, it is worth mentioning that if she didn't put much effort into getting published, she put a ridiculous amount of effort in perpetuating the JT Leroy myth. One person who "knew" JT says that whoever she was talking to claiming to be him (she never did find out who it was) played her audio recordings of fake therapy sessions. Albert actually took the time to create these, which weren't made public, but only played for a few people. She may be lazy in one instance, but not another.

To me the difference between her and James Frey is that I like her writing, and I don't like his. Having said that, talent does not give you license to mislead people. If it is wrong for him, it is wrong for her, too.

Celia Cyanide
03-01-2006, 06:05 AM
So...how bout that trailer? Anyone watch it?

ATP
03-01-2006, 03:15 PM
Couldn't get the link - did a search, and found JT Leroy at Sundance. Simply too many problems with the start and stop, wait, start and stop action.


What is the point of having video online if it always does this? Is the problem with my adsl speed or what? Don't know. I gave up.

ATP

blacbird
03-01-2006, 06:50 PM
If you found out any one of your favorite writers was really a 40 year old housewife, how would that change your perception of their work?


Three or four years ago, a major art museum discovered that a prized Vermeer they had on permanent exhibit was a fake, painted by an unknown fraud at least 200 years after Vermeer died. They immediately took it down and warehoused it.

Now, not a molecule of that painting had changed, but it went immediately from being worth millions of dollars to being worth hamster pucky.

It really isn't What you know, but Who you know, isn't it?

caw.

Celia Cyanide
03-01-2006, 07:05 PM
Couldn't get the link - did a search, and found JT Leroy at Sundance. Simply too many problems with the start and stop, wait, start and stop action.


What is the point of having video online if it always does this? Is the problem with my adsl speed or what? Don't know. I gave up.

ATP

It appears they have taken it down already! Here is the IMDb page:

http://imdb.com/title/tt0368774/

As you can imagine, that poster is quite controversial. When they shot that photo, they probably justified it by saying that was what this kid's mom really did to him.

blacbird, that is quite an interesting story. I think it illustrates the same point that JT Leroy does...that sometimes the reputation of the artist is more important than the art itself.

AdamH
03-01-2006, 07:26 PM
If you found out any one of your favorite writers was really a 40 year old housewife, how would that change your perception of their work?

Not at all. Good writing is good writing like you said. Steven King wrote as Richard Bachman. Samuel Clemens wrote as Mark Twain. But perpetrating a false back story to sell books is very Frey-ish. I'd be interested to hear why she did it.

To comment on blacbird's post: Sadly, it seems people are more apt to buy something if it's considered a "brand" name as opposed to good work. The almighty dollar is what it comes down to.

Celia Cyanide
03-01-2006, 08:07 PM
Not at all. Good writing is good writing like you said.

Yeah, me neither. I really have to wonder about all these people who are so angry because they liked the books until they found out he wasn't real. Do they think their favorite authors are all exactly the way they imagine them to be? Do they think their favorite authors owe them anything, other than good books?


Steven King wrote as Richard Bachman. Samuel Clemens wrote as Mark Twain. But perpetrating a false back story to sell books is very Frey-ish. I'd be interested to hear why she did it.

As far as I know, she still talks about him as if he were a real person, and doesn't even seem to acknowledge that she has been found out. If anyone knows anything that she or her ex-husband or sister in law has said about it, I would love to hear it.

Apart from why she did it, I think it's important to ask, why did it work? Movie stars don't typically care about new authors. And we'd be kidding ourselves if we pretended that good writing was the only reason that people bought books.