The Fake me
She didn't want a specific image. She didn't want to act like someone else. She didn't want to sell herself. She just wanted to perform. Her agency couldn't understand that, they said she needed more exposure, she needed to act funny, approachable and easygoing. To get more fans, she must follow their rules, she must give hugs and smile aimlessly.
"I am a singer for god's sake." She complained to her manager, "I want to sing."
"You heard the marketing team," he replied, "singing is good, but you need more interviews, and you should appear in some charity campaigns, that will boost your image."
"Is it really charity if I am only there to boost my image?"
"The marketing team knows what's best for you, they know how advertising yourself brings more fans."
She knew she will never be able to convince them with what she thinks. This is a company, and the president wants money, he could care less about what she wants. If somehow she lost her popularity, she will be cut off mercilessly, regardless of what she is trying to sing or the message behind her art.
"You have a talk-show in less than an hour, we will head to the studio, and we need to prepare a couple of stories for the audience."
Lies, lies and lies, they will probably make her lie about how popular she was at school, or how she was the captain of the basketball team or something. She hated when they ask her to lie, just because the truth is not enough, her real self is never enough for them. The fact that she was shy, careless and quiet as a student, should never be publicized.
Sometimes, she wondered —is it really me the people are looking at? —do they really believe my fake smiles and laughter? — She didn't care when they told her she will have to appear in different programs and speak about herself, she thought that will help the people see her in her songs. However, what they wanted was to create a fake her, to change her, now she was pretty sure even with her beautiful voice, what the people see in her songs is an airhead whose voice is rather pretty.
She was not stupid, she knew what her anti-fans were saying about her. They doubted her lyrics and her artistic abilities. She could never blame them for that because she allowed herself to be manipulated. She tried to stick to her principals, she really did, but no one backed her up. Her songs were accepted only if they expressed undying love to someone, or spoke about the virtues of a handsome guy. She tried to write about dreams, hope, faith and sadness, but most of these songs were rejected, for the same reasons everything she does on her own gets rejected, Her image.
"You stay here and get ready, I will go check everything is alright on stage." Her manager said.
He left her in her dressing room with some papers. She knew what's inside them, her fabricated story. She grabbed the papers, wishing they'd tear apart without her looking at them, but life is not a wish-granting factory, and she had to look at them.
"My first love," she smiled bitterly," they even included my first kiss."
Another lie added to her profile, the girl who got kissed at 12. She was not that type, she fell in love before, but they never kissed, not even once, she was always shy to even touch hands with him.
She heard the door open and saw her manager, signalling for her that it's time. She glanced at the papers one last time, then threw the thing inside her bag and went out.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us an angel whose voice grabbed the attention of the whole nation, whose charm is never-ending. Please welcome, Maria."
She heard the audience clap, took a deep breath and entered.
"Maria, our fans are really excited to have you here, are you excited too?" Her host asked.
"Of course I am, it's good to see such lively people, and I have to say your studio is très chique."
Same questions, same answers, same compliments, same routine. She was a machine. She didn't even need to pay attention to what her host was saying, she could answer all this sleeping. She smiled, played with the audience, and made a fool out of herself.
And the day ended...
Days passed by, and she kept feeling suffocated, her feelings never eased off, her mind was always in chaos, she felt ready to explode, and for once she actually made a plan to end things and set everything straight. They'd finally done it, they wanted her to sing about a club. She'd made herself so cheap, but now, that will all end.
That day she had an interview, the host was someone famous for her various scoops. She was a perfect target for her plan, and she knew she had to do it today. Halfway through the program, she will start answering as herself, not the fake high-class girl, they'd made her become.
"So, Maria do you have some advice for the people who want to enter the show business world?"
"If you want attention, follow whatever your agency tells you to do...But... If you want art, only follow your heart."
"Excellent advice, but you separated between an agency's role and real art, do you think your agency prevented you from real art?" She caught a glint in her host's eye, and she knew her host was the type hunting for a dirty scandal, but she didn't care, she'd had enough, and so she will just say it.
"I think my agency wanted a money maker, not a singer."
She heard hushed murmurs in the studio, and her host gaped at her. Obviously started by her quick admittance to her rather unfavourable opinion of her agency, her host forgot to even ask a follow-up question.
"I always wanted to sing, ever since I was a child, "She said, "but, singing about love was not my dream, I wanted to send a message with my voice."
She knew by the end of this program, she will probably end up on the street. No agency would hire her after such a scandal, but she could care less. Right now for the first time, she felt free.
She was herself, no one else. She was the real woman behind the mask. She was the intelligent girl, who loves learning and thinks singing exists for the people to understand each other, she was the girl who thinks there is more to life than just love.
The interview went on, and she answered everything faithfully. She could feel her manager's glare from backstage, but she didn't care. She spoke about her real story, her real hobbies, and how the show-business world couldn't accept her unless she lied.
She spoke about how hypocritical the business had become, and how she wished they'd prefer quality over money. She told her host about the songs she'd written, and her host actually cried after she sang one of them. Her audience was silent most of the time, but most of them clapped at the end. When she declared she will only stay as herself from now on, the clapping got louder. Even if she had to leave her agency for this interview, she would sing anywhere, even in the street.
"WE WILL LISTEN TO YOU ANYWHERE!" She heard someone shouting, and the audience echoed his words.
For the first time she felt so happy she'd cry, She was free and the people, who were supposedly attracted to her because of her fabricated story, we're actually attracted to her real self too. She apologized for her lies, and they forgave her. She sang a finale song, and they actually sang with her. This was what she'd always wished she'd see and feel, she finally did it.
The program ended, and she got ready for whatever will happen after it, but she was not nervous, she was relaxed, smiling, and even relieved.
She took in all the scolding her agency gave her, she was waiting for the president to ask her to pay her termination fees, but that never happened.
A lot of people contacted her agency. Although a lot of people were actually angry at her for lying, they appreciated her honesty. Her fan-base was increasing, people found her refreshing and encouraged her to follow her own path. The songs she sang in the talk-show were liked by the older generation, men and women in their thirties loved her performance, they considered her new songs mature and expressive. There were tons of demands that her agency released an album, with her rejected songs. And in the end, her agency lost to real art.