I am sitting here on Valentine’s Day watching a YouTube video of Frédéric Bourdin in the study of his small Le Mans flat, lip-synching the Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me:”
The plaintive voice is that of the clean-cut blonde one, Brian Littrell. The face, though, is Bourdin’s: a heartfelt and malleable face, a little bit Tom Hanks, a little bit Zinedine Zidane. iPhone earbuds feed him the backtrack as he mouths the lyrics with grace and feeling, inhabiting the young Backstreet Boys crooner beyond karaoke and impersonation.
Bourdin is singing the song to his “darlings,” which we expect perhaps to be his wife Isabelle and his three children. Instead, the darlings reveal themselves as a black and tan Serbian Hound (“known for its loving and obedient nature”) as well as an incredibly affectionate white and grey tabby, which halfway between the chorus and the second verse, leaps from a chair or a bookcase into his arms for a mutually gratifying cuddle.
I am thinking about all sorts of things: displacement, loss, love objects, reconfiguring shame, finding happiness in animals and other creatures who can’t talk back or castigate, about sublimation: how we channel our deepest, sometimes unconscious wishes through the poetry we learn, the songs we sing, the essays we write.
I am also thinking about an essay by Mary Gaitskill called “Lost Cat,” which I have been reading recently with a bibliotherapy group. It is ostensibly about Gaitskill falling in love with and adopting a runt-of-the-litter tabby while on holiday in Rome. When the cat goes missing, it triggers a kind of breakdown. Her increasingly disoriented attempts to find the lost cat are interleaved with musings about her father, an orphan, as well as a conflicted relationship with two Hispanic children, a brother and a sister, for whom Mary and her husband Peter provide “country breaks” as part of a weekend surrogacy scheme.3
“Lost Cat” has resonated profoundly with everyone in the group, including those who wouldn’t class themselves as feline enthusiasts. It has even managed to shift my mild ailurophobia towards a kind of cat-agnosticism. I have always found cats a little aloof and inscrutable, but Gaitskill gets me—gets all of us, I think—to fall just a little bit in love with Gattino. But is love real? This is the seemingly banal question that lies at the very heart of “Lost Cat.” It is also a question that feels pertinent when thinking about Frédéric Bourdin.
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In an interview last year with Natalia Pianzola for BBC World, Bourdin explained how after two decades of grand-scale deceit and artifice in the pursuit of love (“His profit seems to have been purely emotional,” said public prosecutor Erica Maurel),4 what finally got him to go straight—to stop the compulsive and repetitive impersonations of lost and wounded adolescents that had resulted in multiple prison sentences, Interpol and FBI records—was a cat.
Is this just one more fraudulent claim to add to the thousands that Bourdin has amassed during his lifetime? Did this cat give him the love, teach him the love no human being had been capable of giving? Is cat-love more real than that we give and receive from members of our own species?
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I found the YouTube video after watching The Imposter on DVD the night before. The Imposter is a much-feted 2012 documentary made by Bart Layton, a British film-maker, about Frédéric Bourdin. It is a film about deception and self-deception, but from an ambivalent and curiosity-engendering stance, rather than a blaming one. It mainly consists of interviews with the eponymous imposter (Bourdin) as well as the people he imposed himself upon, plus all the side players who self-congratulatingly flushed out his imposition.
The self-deception occurs in the hearts of a grieving family, in their attempts to find or “restore” a lost love object: their son Nicholas Barclay, who disappeared in 1994 at the age of thirteen from a small town in San Antonio, Texas and was never heard from again. The deception, the imposition, is of course that of the twenty-three-year-old Bourdin, who in 1997 found himself trying, after a string of attempts dating back to 1990, to pass himself off as a neglected and maltreated teenager in order to find vigil at a youth home in Linares. Having aroused the suspicions of a child-welfare judge, he was then being asked to prove his provenance or submit to finger-printing, which he knew would flush out his Interpol records.
So Bourdin made a call to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia, claiming to be Jonathan Durean, director of the Linares shelter. He tried to find out about lost children, names and identities he might be able to assume. Nicholas Barclay was mentioned. Although there were marked physical differences between himself and Nicholas, Bourdin decided to take a chance with the personification. He decided to become Nicholas Barclay.
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How do you become someone else? How do you step into the shaggy blond hair, blue-eyed cuteness of a typically Caucasian, all-American teenager when your complexion is on the other side of the spectrum (“cabello negro, ojos castaños” reads the Interpol description of Bourdin)? How do you convince a Southern Texas community, your family, your teachers, social workers, police officers, your fellow schoolmates that you are one of them when the very stress patterns and phonology of your speech belie your origins?
French speakers have tenser, more rounded lips when they talk, using the blade rather than the tip of their tongue. H’s get dropped, consonants softened: think becomes sink, sat turns into sad. The near front, unrounded vowel /ɪ/ and short, doubled schwas (/ə/) of Nicholas (ˈnɪkələs) come out sounding more like Neekolah. How do you become another person when you can’t even pronounce your own name?
What Bourdin did was take an incredibly brazen, creative risk. One night he phoned a police station in Linares, pretending to be an American tourist who had just found Barclay. In the following twenty-four hours, another creative risk: he rang Nicholas's thirty-one-year-old half-sister Cary Gibson, this time pretending to be a solicitous policeman who had found her traumatised lost brother cowering in a phone box. Cary immediately flew to Linares. Although the young man she met didn’t of course resemble or sound like Nicholas in any way, she convinced herself that he was.
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“And how you got me blind is still a mystery,”6 sings Bourdin through the Backstreet Boys, fifteen years later. But how we get ourselves blind is not that much of a mystery. There is even a psychological term for this: “pseudology a deux.” We see it in Don Quixote, in Peer Gynt. We see it in ourselves. After losing her cat, Gaitskill starts visiting psychics to see if they can help her track down Gattino. They tell her to do some crazy things and she does them. So does her husband Peter. In their insane devotion, they commit to the project, the profound, but sometimes burdensomely weighty project of love, tearing them open in ways they hadn’t thought possible.
“It was the loss of the cat that made this happen,” is how Gaitskill explains her increased sensitivity to the suffering of the world around her: her own heart tearing open when she hears about the killing of Iraqi civilians on the radio news; her gratifying as well as frustrated dealings with the troubled child Caesar whom she is trying disjointedly, on weekends and holidays, to provide with surrogate love, to repair in some way the mothering he missed out on, the mothering that clobbered rather than caressed. A metaphor for love, she suggests, is that of “a lost, hungry little animal dying as it tries to find its way back home in the cold.”
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The desire for love is real. Bourdin—like Caesar, like Gattino—was lost and wanted love. So he risked everything to get it. Bart Layton, the British director who made The Imposter, is another hungry risk-taker. “When I finished up at Uni I wrote to almost every company in the UK with the word ‘films’ in the title,” he remembers. “To him that knocketh, it shall be opened,” became his mantra; he prospered carrying out the following game-plan: “Come up with a load of ideas which you really believe in or stories you feel you simply have to tell, work them up and go knocking on doors… don't take no for an answer. Pick one story and start making it—you may be surprised how things can fall magically into place if you really do believe.”7
Bourdin did this too: picked a story, and started making it, but not for a film company, rather with anyone who would give him the time of day. Bourdin was no less hungry and creative than Layton, than any of us. Most of us lie a little or even a lot on our CVs. On getting acquainted with someone, we all tell a few porkies to grease the social wheels, about three in the first ten minutes of the conversation, research has shown. Who is anyone these days without the HTML smokescreen of their online avatars? What is it about ourselves we need to cover up or shroud? Is the internet real? Is the business world? Is love a business? Is love real? Can one go knocking on doors for it?
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The Imposter perhaps struck such a chord with film critics and viewers last year (it was included in nearly every Best Films of 2012 list) because we often suspect ourselves as imposters in the roles we’ve set out to play. An hour before my first client for the day arrives, I am not there in my office as a psychotherapist, I’m just a man sitting in front of my computer screen, occasionally getting up to make a cup of tea, wondering if I can allow myself a biscuit or two, while I try to write something meaningful about a YouTube video. Later, when I answer the door, I am clothed in the assuaging, measured, judicious garb of The Professional Shrink. I am so good at doing this that I often convince myself that what I do defines me. I wonder if Freud ever forgot that he was Sigmund Freud, if he was able to live as un-self-consciously as I aspire (but often fail) to do. The biographies suggest Freud had the same problem as the rest of us: that he couldn’t ever stop playing himself, the psychoanalyst, perhaps his most famous role.
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Back to the song. “As Long As You Love Me” was the second single off the Backstreet Boys' debut album Backstreet's Back. It was huge. In the UK it sold 430,000 copies. In the US, it spent fifty-six weeks on Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart. So for over a year, whenever you turned on the radio, somewhere on this planet, or switched channels to MTV, or walked through a shopping mall, or sat drinking a milkshake in McDonald’s, hearing “As Long As You Love Me” was a given. Why did it stick around for so long? Why, even now, does it still stick with Frédéric Bourdin, and through him, me?
Perhaps one reason for “As Long As You Love Me’s” endurance is that it was written by Martin Karl Sandberg, AKA Max Martin. (Everyone in this story has multiple names and thus identities; this is a tale about the pitfalls as well as blessings of being legion.) Pop songs from boy bands don’t encourage the listener to scrutinize their provenance in the way that we might a singer-songwriter’s oeuvre, so most likely Martin Karl Sandberg is not a name you recognize, another shape-shifting cipher, a kind of Frédéric Bourdin of the pop world. In terms of writing prowess, however, he deserves to be as recognizable as any other name on the roll call of hit-makers: the Goffins and Kings of this world, the Holland-Dozier-Hollands. Even more so, his fellow Swedes: Andersson-Ulvaeus-Anderson. All of them able to create a particular kind of popular song that has too an almost preternatural ability to tap into our depths through the lightest of means. The pop song as a percutaneous coronary intervention, if you will.
Sandberg’s genius (how else to describe what he does?) is to wed a melody with the tenure of a bear-trap to lyrics that are darkly as well as defiantly self-reflexive, layered, and ambivalent. He does this over and over again: with Britney Spears’s “Baby One More Time,”8 with Celine Dion’s “That’s The Way It Is”9 and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.”10 He does this especially well with the songs he penned for the Backstreet Boys, including “As Long As You Love Me” and another song interpreted online by Bourdin, “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely.”11
It’s as if something primary and paramount takes up residence in our heads and hearts, when we hear these songs, cleaving and binding itself to what we hold most dear. At this moment the lyrical object starts to work, engaging with us in our day-to-day domesticities, bedding down in the unconscious. Like Bourdin, it enters our familiar, familial world, our most intimate of places, and starts to tap down into the soil and loam of us with its greedy roots. Is it any surprise, then, that songs like this can feel over time (or maybe when we return to them through the vivifying lens of nostalgia) as if they’re ripping us apart, playing with our hearts for three and a half minutes, and then stuffing them back in without us knowing quite how or why they do this?
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Why “As Long As You Love Me” for Bourdin? One clue is in the original video, which I now see through the eyes of The Imposter. I watch a film that is almost entirely about metamorphosis, impersonation and counterfeiting, dressing up and transforming the self in order to make who we are more acceptable in the eyes of another.
Here’s the set-up: six young women are auditioning the “boys” for equivocal ends, maybe for an acting job, or as models, but also as love objects in some occluded, enigmatic way. As they are put through their paces, they play on a pantomime scale the different guises of North American pop culture: a goofy, psychedelic skateboarder, a cowboy, a handyman, surfer dudes. Also: each member of the boy band starts morphing into the other. Brian’s face dissolves into Kevin’s, and then a moment later transitions into that of Howie or Nick. It’s as if each Backstreet Boy is both utterly unique in their ability to inhabit and therefore attract a certain type of glance or desire, but also, at some level, just one facial shift away from nihility, a complete obliteration of the self, perhaps in order to become someone better, even more desirable, more love-able.
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As we begin to read “Lost Cat” in my bibliotherapy group, people start relating their own stories about losing animals. Alice tells us how in 1925 (she is ninety-two), her father gave her a “cute-as-can-be” kitten, a little black ball of fur and meow which a farmer in the village had thought she might enjoy looking after. The cat, which she named Dimsie, got herself mangled one night on an unlit country lane in the wheels of a demobilized Crossley 25/30 that had been put to use as a station taxi. So bereft was Alice, so troubled was her father at not being able to console, that he made up a rule right there and then from which he would never deviate: “No more pets.”
Alice was an only child. Growing up in rural Lincolnshire, she might have appreciated the company of an animal confidante and playmate, but the precedent had been set. Later, when she married, and could have allowed herself a dog or a cat, or even a budgie, she had already by her own admission internalized her father’s prohibition. Nor did she and her husband ever have children. But this we can’t talk about. The smaller losses, those of animals and objects, sometimes have to stand in for bigger ones. We are almost always talking to each other indirectly, expressing what moves us through the books we read, the films we watch, the songs we sing in the shower, or to an audience on YouTube. Why is intimacy so difficult?
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I wonder what rules young Frédéric internalized from his early childhood. At a young age, Bourdin was given into the custody of his grandparents who lived in Mouchamps. His mother’s care had been somewhat erratic in the years preceding. When he was with her, she would pretend to be ill. “To see me frightened would give her pleasure,” he told reporter David Grann.12 So: grownups pretend to get what they want. They make stuff up, they make themselves up as they go along. They do it all the time. Take note.
Frédéric never knew his father, an Algerian immigrant whom his mother had met at a margarine factory where they both worked. When she fell pregnant she didn’t tell Kaci (she can’t remember his last name) that she was pregnant. At the village school in Mouchamps, wearing the “wrong” clothes, carrying the “wrong” ethnicity, Frederic took on the role of Fabulist.
“Why don’t we ever see your father?”
“Because he’s a secret agent.”
“What about your mother?”
If you’re going to tell stories, let’s start with the most fundamental ones: Who are you? What do you stand for? Are you someone I might like, or even love? Even the most sincere answers to these stories have a constructed (fictional) element to them. We sometimes call these stories lies.
Why do children lie? Why does anyone lie? To avoid blame, to enhance self-esteem and social status, to rebel. Or maybe just because the truth is too hard to bear. So: if you feel that nobody loves you, imagine somebody who does. And if you don’t know how you came to be, of if you fear you came from nothing more than margarine—slippery lust, boredom, or despair—make up a different creation myth, become someone else: a foundling, an abductee, a castaway. Take note.
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Colin tells the reading group how his family has always had Battersea Dogs Home strays in their lives. Some years ago, they took in Barney, a brindle Staffy Cross. One day Barney found a hole in the hedge and went on walkabout. He too got run over, not by a Crossley, but probably something like a Citroën C5, which were selling like hotcakes a few years ago. Colin ran out of the house to find Barney dying on the side of the road, surrounded by local teenagers, their tracksuit pockets bulging with clandestine tinnies, trying to work out what to do, whom to alert. Colin carried the dying animal back home. The whole family was devastated, none more so than Colin. Felled by their loss, they decided to get another dog, in fact the very next day, almost as soon as Barney had been interred.
When my family emigrated from South Africa to the UK in 1986, we left behind three dogs: Winston, a five-year-old bulldog; Jock, a hardy mixed-breed; and Mischief, who in 1986 would have been as old in dog years as Alice the nonagenarian. Mischief was another hybrid, a kind of Chihuaha / Shih Tzu mashup. She had been offered to my mother by a woman in the lift of the block of flats where we lived after my parents got divorced—the puppy looking up at her from the depths of its cardboard box lined with a mucky blanket.
Just before we left South Africa, we managed to find a home for all three dogs with an Afrikaans family that lived on a plot: one of those small holdings dotted about the vast savannah grasslands of what was then Transvaal Province (now Gauteng). A plot is a dry and dusty place. A plot is not a garden. It is not somewhere to leave a childhood friend and confidante in her tottering dotage.
The last goodbye: all three dogs watching us drive away with quizzical looks on their faces, tails slowing down in their slap-slap-slap against the red earth, and then coming to a halt. Mischief, Jock, Winston getting smaller and smaller until finally lost.
Alice’s loss resulted in an enduring deprivation (no more pets), along with a kind of tough, get-on-with-it fortitude which has served her in good stead. Colin’s loss could not be endured for much longer than a day. Mary’s loss was sublimated into a 30,000 word essay. My loss too, it seems.
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We begin to process loss by denying that it even exists, or that we need to process it at all: a kind of amnesia. Bourdin would often “pretend” to be an amnesiac as a child, getting lost in his grandparents’ village, which is to say: replaying the love-object loss by losing himself again and again. But the lost love object continues to exist within our dejected subjectivity, within the rubbish heap, the ruins of meaning that make up our inauthentic selves. In losing ourselves, self-cohesion runs aground: Am I real? Is love real? The lost object seems to remain implanted, metabolized in bits and pieces, like a zombie or a ghost, hovering between life and death, between sense and nonsense, forever sought after and always out of reach.
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My partner has asked me to stop using the word ‘love object’ when discussing our relationship. I explain that the term designates people, animals, even things (a mobile phone, a favorite chair) which are psychologically significant to our psychic life.
“A love object doesn’t reduce you to an actual object, you know. Its significance is always to a subject. I (subject) love you, so you are in relation to me, the love (object). You (subject) love me, so in turn, I am to you—”
“Yes, yes, I get all that, but why can’t we both be subjects loving subjects, rather than instrumental props to each other’s love needs? Why do I become an “object” in the landscape of your psyche, loving or otherwise?”
A good point.
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Mary Gaitskill pinpoints a moment when her lost cat Gattino stopped treating her as a food-dispenser, an instrumental, interchangeable Other, someone who might be replaced at any moment by someone else, and started interacting with her as a love object.
Then one day he looked at me differently. I don’t know exactly when it happened—I may not have noticed the first time. But he began to raise his head when I came into the room, to look at me intently. I can’t say for certain what the look meant; I don’t know how animals think or feel. But it seemed that he was looking at me with love. He followed me around my apartment. He sat in my lap when I worked at my desk. He came into my bed and slept with me; he lulled himself to sleep by gnawing softly on my fingers.13
Is this the moment when love becomes real? The appreciation of a food-dispenser sating our bodily needs, switching at some point to an understanding of who we really have before us: someone as holistically complex, complicated, and possibly as needy as we are.
It’s a developmental move that Freud and those who followed his object-relating smoke trail insist we all have to make. If you don’t get the chance to do this in infancy, you might need to find a way of recreating the process for yourself later on, perhaps with those people we call therapists, perhaps with someone else.
What is this process? Well, it begins with a relationship between two partial objects: the infant’s mouth and the mother’s breasts. At some point the infant loses the breast, “just at the time perhaps when the child is able to form a total idea of the person to whom the organ that is giving him satisfaction belongs” (Freud).14 But nobody knows if this really happens, or if it’s just another metaphor for love.
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I used to go out with someone who would frequently ask me if I loved her. I would say that I did, to which she would then query whether I knew what love was anyway, which seemed like a fair as well as impossible question to answer. I should have simply replied, “No. I don’t know what love is. Not even on a metaphorical level. Love as a clash of lightning, as Neruda suggests? Love as a dog, from hell. That’s Bukowski.”
She might have answered: “I prefer love as a cat.”
“Love as a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by the imagination?” But this metaphor is also used by Lisa Kudrow’s character Phoebe in an episode of Friends: Love is a wondrous work of art, / But your love, oh your love, your love / Is like a giant pigeon, crapping on my heart.
“Yes, that’s good. Let’s not get too pretentious here.”
But I like getting pretentious. “What about Plato. In Phaedrus he has Socrates proclaim that love is madness: a divine release of the soul from the yoke of custom and convention.”
This conversation is of course itself a lie. It started the way I wrote it, but I really don’t have that kind of attorney-like memory for the devastatingly apt quote. In the actual conversation, I think I repeated a somewhat naff line I’d picked up in a self-help book about love being a verb, not a noun. Put your love where your mouth is.
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“To fall in love is to be reminded of a frustration that you didn’t know you had (of one’s formative frustrations, and of one’s attempted self-cures for them),” writes Adam Phillips. “You wanted someone, you felt deprived of something, and then it seems to be there. And what is renewed in that experience is an intensity of frustration, and an intensity of satisfaction. It is as if, oddly, you were waiting for someone but you didn't know who they were until they arrived.”15
Sometimes it’s easier to feel our underbellies as they’re dragged along the ground rather than the feathery twitch of a Greek god’s wings, offering to pull us into realms of transcendence. You didn’t give me love, which is to say acceptance, or whatever it is I need from you at a narcissistic level, so let me rage, let me hate, and fight. Maybe that’s part of it?
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Bourdin’s Facebook16 and Twitter17 page backgrounds depict a gold-plated doigt du honeur, as the French call it. The finger of honor. There is no honor in the English expressions for this gesture: giving someone the finger, flipping the bird. Just in case (we might overlook the visuals), he spells out his social media stance in his profile blurb: “Don’t piss me off, I can be very rude, but very very!”18 This is of course as much a call to arms as a warning. Do piss me off, so that I can be rude, offended, very very.
There are a lot of people up for the challenge. A fairly average online exchange runs like this. Someone from Barnsley tweets to @Francparler (Bourdin): “Just watched tht film what a fuckin weirdo he is, #sickgayrentboy How many euros can you fit in tht gap toothy.”
Bourdin responds: “Come and try do it yourself weak loser, I’d fuck you so hard you would beg to go back into your mum’s ass :))).”
Another woman gets involved at this point: “watched the film and was very intrigued by it. But you seem to be a very bitter and angry man who tries to twist the truth.”
Bourdin: “You can try to twist my dick in your mouth cunt if you wish, now go back with your ugly fucker in the trashcan where you belong”.19
His online presence is that of challenging all-comers to test his honor, then responding incensed and furious when they do. His most frequent comeback to his critics is “loser.”
In another Martin Karl Sandberg song, *NSYNC’s “I’ll Never Stop,” which Bourdin also performs online, he sings: “I am the loser / And you’re shining like the sun / Tell me why can’t I still be the one?”20
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As I read through his Twitter and YouTube tiffs, red rags to the inner bull, I think of another emblematic individual, another French-Algerian cipher, Zinedine Zidane, who like Bourdin bears the hallmark of someone through whom a collective psychodrama has been played out through tensions around race, ethnicity, nationality, morality; as well as the more nebulous search for love and respect. Both men are adept at extricating themselves from tight corners, at beating the odds; at running, dribbling, and if necessary fighting, for their honor.
We’ll never know what Materazzi actually said to Zidane at the 2006 World Cup Final, but whatever the slur was (something to do with his mother, he claims), it seems to have triggered an uncontrollable rage, a rage that perhaps was forged in the conflicted identity of a second-generation immigrant, especially one with North African origins. Both men were brought up in the choppy, decolonizing wake of Algerian-Franco relations of the ’50s and ’60s. A teenager in the ’90s, Bourdin may have experienced these attacks on Zidane as deeply personal, attacks which often came in the form of individuals and groups like the Front National questioning the right of non-white players to legitimately represent Les Bleus, questioning his and Zizous’ right to belong, to be loved.
Lionized, scrutinized, despised. How to square being both the wily, threatening “Arab” male, as well as the multicultural poster-boy for integrationist optimists, France’s so-called “Most Popular Person?” This is the conflicted love affair between France and Zinedine Zidane. Is popularity real? Or are there always cracks in the loving sheen of adoration? Which would mean that at some point, something has to give. And when it does, perhaps it does so with the passionate intensity of a headbutt or social media vitriol. Impulse control slips, the ego-center cannot hold.
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“As Long As You Love Me,” we have already established, was the theme song of 1997, the theme song because everyone within earshot of a radio or a television set would have been exposed to it. Even me drifting around Italy and the States looking for love (in the form of friends, a partner, some kind of worthwhile profession in which I might be nourished). You too, wherever you were searching for the love you needed. But especially Bourdin, taking on one of the greatest performances of his life in his attempt to become, as in totally embody, someone lovable, which at that point meant someone other than himself: Nicholas Barclay.
1997 is the year in which that performance played itself out; the year that Bourdin walked and skateboarded, and biked and bussed in the not-quite-right, possibly even deeply uncomfortable skin of Barclay. And while he was doing so, this song would have been playing—emitted as tinny seepage through the headphones of his teenage cohorts on one of those typical, yellow North American school buses, on which he would have had to pinch himself the first time he climbed the steps, just to check he wasn’t dreaming or in a film. The song playing at recess, too: watching kids attempting to re-enact the folding chair choreography in the gym or playground of the San Antonio Junior High School where Bourdin was trying his hardest to be an all-American kid like them.
Later at home, that MTV video on rotation (as they did back then) maybe three or four times a day on the small television set where he now lived with his “mother” Beverley, and “brother” Codey.
Is it any surprise that fifteen years later, he would feel compelled to return to this song in order to hear its message anew, in order to confirm that it doesn’t matter “who you are / where you’re from / what you did / as long as you love me?” The you here might be pop fans delirious with adoration for A. J., Howie, Nick, Kevin, and Brian. Or maybe just a cat, or a dog, and for some people, including Bourdin now, his own children. Whatever the love objects, they offer themselves to us as psychologically significant, as people and things in which we might find value and the means for attachment. Let’s not be too prescriptive here.
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A few days ago, in order to write this piece, I clicked on the link that I had followed from Bourdin’s golden-fingered Twitter account, so that I might watch the video again and perhaps share it with you. It’s no longer there. Or rather, a bit like the mysterious, love-processing unconscious mind, it is, only you can’t see it:
“This video is private.” This process is private. Let’s respect that.