The Conceit of Guilt Trips

Actor Lane Garrison begins promotion of NBC drama ‘The Event’ by getting that vehicular manslaughter stuff “absolutely, 100 percent” out of the way – on NBC.

Original story: CNN Entertainment

Lane Garrison served a 22-month sentence for manslaughter resulting from the death of a passenger riding in a vehicle driven by the intoxicated actor. Billed as Garrison’s “first sit-down” interview since his April 2009 release, his appearance with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today” Show confirmed the actor’s return to the spotlight, starting with his small, recurring role on NBC’s own, “The Event.”

If you watch the interview you can see Garrison’s struggle to stay on message and remain focused. But so far, he isn’t making excuses for killing a 17 year-old boy, and that’s an encouraging start. Still, reactions to his contrite and apologetic appearance have been mixed – with some accusing Garrison of actually being just the opposite.

It’s pretty likely, for example, that there was some strategizing and compromise regarding how much of Garrison’s guilt trip should precede straight-ahead promotion of NBC’s new primetime show. And surely Garrison knows he’s going to be asked at some point to drop the subject – or risk being dropped himself.

For now, referring to his court appearance on the day he pled guilty, Garrison told Lauer, “That was the first time I really became a man, when I accepted responsibility.” Some of us know exactly what that feels like: the transformation through court, family humiliation, and incarceration from entitled, self-important brat to someone of higher principles and improved moral prospects.

Though not all spines suddenly stiffen before a judge, the first time most young men rise before a court and plead guilty is a day their lives are changed: immediately for the worse, then for the better. But ideally, that falling gavel signifies just the beginning of answerability and consequence.

Some folks wise up mid-stream, gaining character and ethical courage and composure during their incarceration. Almost like training wheels, more straightforward versions of fairness, punishment, and delayed gratification of the judicial kind can further the process of “becoming a man” (which I mean in the broadest sense as something that can also happen with female inmates). And when it dawns on you that your prison sentence is the first thing you’ve ever started that you will finish, empowerment happens.

But it doesn’t – or shouldn’t – stop there. Unless you’re a worthless dumbass, the spectacle of this burning bush doesn’t go away easily, yet it does require constant upkeep once you’re out and the training wheels come off. Ignoring or viewing the process as something that can be relegated to the past (and eventually chalked as the result of “youthful indiscretion”), one’s newfound “manliness” can grow hollow and even become an excuse to blow off valid criticism or comments. So if Lane Garrison ‘s redemption pitch is authentic (and folks, this early that’s all it is; a pitch), his yearn to share his hard won lessons may rub wrong with the demands of celebrity, enticing him to, say, scale back his public remorse once it gets in the way of more positive promotional strategies. In other words, what makes a man out of Garrison may fiercely conflict with his Hollywood aspirations, like continuing to honor the life he took or recognizing the inmates he left behind who’ll never get the many opportunities he has seen.

Again, it’s early. We don’t know if Garrison can deliver actual craft, and “celebrity” may be all he ever achieves. Either way, it will likely be the real test of Lane Garrison’s altruism – and of his fucking spine.

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One Response to “The Conceit of Guilt Trips”

  1. Steve Stilts says:

    I’m not sure either if this guy is for real. I’m sure some of the remorse is real. Does he really “say a prayer for that family every night”. I’m not too sure. I love the way that he said that he only had two drinks and two shots but he managed to drive into a tree with a blood alcohol level twice the legal amount. Methinks that’s disingenuous.

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