LET US BE FRANK

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Intro

Remember Wolf of Wall Street? That was a brilliant movie. Its brilliancy only grows when beyond experiencing it you think of it. The movie is just a stylised snapshot of Jordan Belfort’s life (a real person). The real story is how all that was in the movie is true and he went to jail and he wrote a book about it and the book got made into a movie and he got to hang with Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill and Margot Robbie and Martin Scorcese and the movie was paid by 1MBD a Malaysian company to launder money through in the biggest money laundering scandal of history. That’s the real story. And if you focus on the movie, you lose all of that. Fiction is amazing, it does away with the boring details and gives you stylised highlights, like a trailer, but for life. But life is where it’s at.

But to come to this is to learn how to see beyond a magician’s trick: you need to see where your attention is being drawn to and to counter-act the reflex of looking there. You need to look, to think beyond the frame you were given.

With that in mind let’s talk about the ‘Let Me Be Frank’ video above.

As soon as I saw it I knew it deserved extensive textual analysis. Of course that won’t happen because academics (IYI) react to what is interesting and what might actually have some effect on the world they way vampires react to sunlight. Which of course means the weight must be bore by internet trolls like myself. Very well. I too would prefer to do the 7-thousand take on the Theory of Forms, but so be it.

Analysis

This is a complex piece. The correct answer here is to tread slowly only acquiring what we can be sure of.

To start off: what do we know?

We know the piece was done on purpose. Things like this don’t just pop into existence. Someone took the time to film it, upload, and more importantly script it. It must be done to fulfil one, or various ends.

What else do we know? This is real, this is actually happening. When disoriented by such a piece it’s easy to believe one is imagining things or going crazy, but not, this is real, this is happening.

We also know that ‘let me be frank’ is a double entendre: let me be Frank (the character) or let me frank (forthcoming).

Ok, that’s what we can get before diving into the transcript. So let’s go after that next. I go it from YouTube, only slighted edited it below.

>>>
I know what you want

oh sure they may have tried to separate us but

what we have is too strong is too powerful I mean

after all we shared everything you and I.

I told you my deepest darkest secrets

I showed you exactly what people are capable of,

I shocked you with my

honesty but mostly I challenged you and

made you think and you trusted me even

though you knew you shouldn’t so we’re

not done no matter what anyone says and

besides I know what you want

you want me back

of course some believed

everything and have just been waiting

with bated breath to hear me confess it

all they’re just dying to have me

declare that everything said is true and

that I got what I deserved

wouldn’t that be easy if it was all so

simple only you and I both know it’s

never that simple not in politics and

not in life but you wouldn’t believe the

worst without evidence would you you

wouldn’t rush to judgments without facts

would you? did you? no, not you

you’re smarter than that

anyway all this presumption made for

such an unsatisfying ending and to think

it could have been such a memorable

send-off I mean if you and I’ve learned

nothing else these past years it’s that

in life and art nothing should be off the table

we weren’t afraid not of what

we said not of what we did and we’re

still not afraid because I can promise

you this if I didn’t pay the price for

the things we both know I did do I’m

certainly not gonna pay the price for

the things I didn’t do well oh, of course

they’re gonna say I’m being

disrespectful not playing by the rules

like I ever played by anyone’s rules but

I never did and you loved it anyhow

despite all the poppycock the animosity

the headlines the impeachment without a

trial despite everything despite even my

own death

I feel surprisingly good and my

confidence grows each day that soon

enough you will know the full truth wait

a minute now that I think of it you

never actually saw me die

did you? *puts on ring*

conclusions can be so deceiving

miss me?

[Music]

Let’s analyse each part in turn:

‘I know what you want
oh sure they may have tried to separate us but
what we have is too strong is too powerful I mean

It is deliberately ambigious who is speaking here. It could be either Kevin Spacey or Frank. Notably, Frank got killed off because of Kevin’s actions.

‘with bated breath to hear me confess it
all they’re just dying to have me
declare that everything said is true and
that I got what I deserved’

Frank is dead in cannon, so this can only be Kevin speaking.

‘it’s never that simple not in politics and not in life’

This is bringing you in, exactly what Frank does: making you a willing accomplice of his unending will-to-power.

‘you wouldn’t rush to judgments without facts
would you? did you? no, not you
you’re smarter than that’

It is obvious what is happening here but it WORKS precisely because it’s obvious. You missed Frank and here he is again, offering what he always does, what you like of him to you.

‘in life and art nothing should be off the table ‘

Here he is planting a seed in your head.

‘if I didn’t pay the price for
the things we both know I did do I’m
certainly not gonna pay the price for
the things I didn’t do well oh, of course’

I.e.: I didn’t do it

‘they’re gonna say I’m being
disrespectful not playing by the rules
like I ever played by anyone’s rules’

This is definitely Kevin speaking. Frank isn’t breaking any rules here. Kevin certainly is.

‘I never did and you loved it’

Kevin is here at the most explicit leveraging of Frank. Letting you admit to yourself why you liked Frank and that that is precisely the same reason why you might take Kevin back.

‘the headlines the impeachment without a trial ‘

This clearly refers to Netflix: Frank was never impeached.

‘wait a minute now that I think of it you
never actually saw me die
did you? *puts on ring*’

This is the pretend sell: having Frank back on the show. You might say no to this. But at this point the real sell, the real goal of this persuasion piece has been met: the seed has been planted in your head of accepting Kevin Spacey in your heart again.

‘Whether or not these are “real” is a question that I am happy to avoid, though these experiences can be so extremely vivid that they can seem more “real” than the “real world.” Much more interesting than the question of what is real is the question of what is causal, i.e. what leads to what. For example, we might decide that our dreams are not “real”, but we must admit that there are real world consequences of having dreams.’

‘Hyperreality is seen as a condition in which what is real and what is fiction are seamlessly blended together so that there is no clear distinction between where one ends and the other begins.’

To understand this piece we need to distinguish between four people/characters/personas:
(1) Kevin Spacey (the actual man himself)
(2) Kevin Spacey (the public figure, which is played by the actual man himself)
(3) Frank (the HOC character itself)
(4) Frank (the HOC character, as played by Kevin Spacey (the actual man himself))

To make this simpler just think of talk shows: the Kevin Spacey you see there is not the real Kevin Spacey, just another character that Kevin Spacey (the actual man himself) plays.

This video is an amazing piece of persuasion works because it works because it disorients you. It disorients you because it does something that has never been done before. And in your disorientation you cling to any re-orientation you can get, which is precisely the same that he seeded: BRING FRANK/KEVIN BACK.

Why does it disorient you? Because you’re familiar with television but this is entirely new. This isn’t a fourth wall break. You’re used to those. This is an inverted fourth wall break: it isn’t Frank (the HOC character itself) talking to you, from within the show, as you’re used to, in HOC and in other shows, where he is fictional, and safe. It’s Frank acting as Kevin Spacey the public figure, the public figure that exists in real life.

Why did this work? Well, everything gets subverted. Just try to imagine how disorienting it was the first time someone saw a fourth wall break. You don’t need to imagine, it was as disorienting as this was. You are among the only that can say they experienced the very first (certainly not the last) inverted fourth wall break: it wasn’t a TV character talking to you within the TV show, it was a TV character talking to you in something you erroneously thought of as real life – which is why it works, because of your mistake. Talking to you as a public figure you’re familiar with. Why does it work? Because you took the public figure to be real, but it’s fake – as all public figures are – and thus the (fake) character can play it.

The TV show leaked into real life. Is this entirely Kevin Spacey’s machination? Unlikely. The character of Frank lives not only on the TV show, but on the writers mind, and now ours. And now he is leaking into the real and definitely affect real life.

Which brings us to the third possible reading of the title:

Let me be — Frank.