The Art of Redemption: I Heart James Frey

We're all human, prone to screwing up from time to time, but what we do next determines our true character.

I often wonder why sugar coating things and pretending you don't see the massive pink elephant in the middle of the room tends to be the more socially acceptable response - for both public figures and otherwise - to massive screw-ups, as opposed to just coming clean and admitting the truth. What's so effing difficult about I'm sorry, I was wrong, I screwed up. It's as if these words are poisonous to one's tongue unless they're immediately followed with a press release stating the planned date of entry to the nearest rehab facility.

Shockingly, being perpetually drunk, high, or mentally ill are not the only things that lead to personal crumble. We're human, we unravel sometimes, it's the way it works. Blood, guts, highs, lows, mistakes, learning, growing, doing things differently, screwing up again, worse this time, learn even more, rinse and repeat. It's a package deal.

Thanks to A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, we were reminded this week of how sexy admitting your faults and learning from them can be. Yes, I said sexy. I happen to have a thing for people who are acutely aware that they're human and have the emotional capacity to express it without oozing the rancid stench of tar-coated defense mechanisms that I can smell from a mile away. In other words, I like my men emotionally intelligent. I guess I have a type.

Frey's interview(s) on Oprah's Monday and Tuesday episodes this week took us back to five years ago when Oprah chose A Million Little Pieces for her book club selection. It soon became a drama-filled soap opera after it was revealed that significant parts of the book were fiction. Tsk tsk, James.

When Lady-O found out she'd been had, and was promoting a memoir that wasn't a memoir, it wasn't pretty. There were interviews and words exchanged, landing Frey under a pile of lawsuits, shame, and embarrassment. He had gotten caught up in selling his first book, went for the ride, and A Million Little Pieces blew up into exactly that.

But this week he was back for the "Most Memorable Guests" show. He's had time to move through the crisis and come out the other side, and he's not hiding. I love it.

The interview was chock full of: it happened, I'm not proud, I got caught up, I learned from it, I'm embarrassed and fled to France to get my head straight slash here's what I was thinking at the time. He had his tail was between his legs on just the right level, not willing to disrespect and throw himself completely under the bus, but not explaining himself away into oblivion either. I'm a fan.

It seems like a very exciting trend now, the whole 'redeem yourself after a chapter of crash-and-burn' thing. It's very in. The best redemption though, isn't the Jesse James 'I'm writing an entire book of excuses for my screw-ups' kind. It's the 'I have no excuses so I'm not even gonna try, but I'm getting back on the horse' kind. The, I-shaved-my-head-and-beat-the-crap-out-of-my-ex-boyfriend's-car-with-a-bat-while-my-publicist-shat-her-pants-and-simultaneously-had-a-panic-attack, and now I'm back, dancing until the world ends. It's the stuff that Britneys are made of.

This year Christina Aguilera got divorced, was pulled over drunk with her new drunk and driving boo, screwed up the words to "The Star Spangled Banner," and fell on stage during a tribute to Aretha Franklin. But without smudging her lipstick, she got back up, poured herself into a dress from the juniors department, started her new gig on The Voice, and ended the madness with a humble remark to Ellen DeGeneres: "I knew that I just made myself a Trivial Pursuit question." Yeah, you did. And now we can all move on.

I'm not saying that royally screwing up is sexy, nor recommended. It's just human. The sexy part is when you embrace the discomfort of it all and stop trying to protect your fragile ego by either pretending it didn't happen, or blaming it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol. Simply put: there's no redemption in denial.

I heart you, James Frey. Thanks for the reminder.

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