The Contagiousness of a Happy Couple: True Story or Con-Job (or Doesn’t It Matter?)

I’ve seen it three times today and I could see it another 12 more times before I go to sleep. 

So it’s been seen already 17 million times by the rest of the world–I’m a little slow!

I was totally exhausted this morning and trying hard to wake up when I saw the link to this Tonight Show video on my friend’s Facebook page.

And, as expected, if it seems too good to be true…

Out came the speculators that it was staged.

And a blog that gave folks another reason to hate Jay Leno.

It’s the same debate I’ve had with myself a hundred times.  When the headlines hit, can I separate the work from the artist?


  • I’m a huge fan of Woody Allen movies, but I’m not sure I’d want him to be a guidance counselor for senior girls.


  • Chinatown is one of my favorite movies, but Roman Polanski’s not on my top 5 list for facing responsibility.


  • And Michael Jackson’s music is still all over my iPod, even through the Neverland out-of-court settlements.

So, do I not like this great video if I feel I’ve been had?

After all, if it were introduced to me as a skit on Saturday Night Live, maybe I’d not find it nearly as charming.

(And, my nerdish-doubt of its authenticity wasn’t the actors/singers/con-artist question,  I was just trying to figure out how they got such amazing microphone quality in a gas-station, where normally roaring cars drown out New York subway-like intercom systems.)

Perhaps it’s like Santa Claus.  So the awesome toy didn’t come from elves at the North Pole and didn’t travel down your chimney, it’s still fun to open and play with the darned thing!

Either way, it gave me a nice shot of endorphins to get me downstairs to my coffee pot.

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About Kevin Walsh

Kevin began in 2013 as an experiment that was as simple as "What's a blog?" and ended up becoming a forum for fellow writers. He's been a high school teacher for 28 years and worked as an administrator and instructor in colleges for 10 years since then. Contact him at: He is also the producer of the web-series and blog, www.DiggingDetroit, founder and producer for MMD Productions at which offers quick, professional photography, video and multimedia solutions for individuals, organizations and businesses. His high school media production text, "Video Direct," has been used in 40 states--and he occasionally still sells a few. He is the current president of the non-profit DAFT (Digital Arts Film and Television) which sponsors the Michigan Student Film Festival. He lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, is married to Patrice and is tolerated by his two kids Aidan and Abby who have all graciously allowed him to write about them on occasion.

6 Responses to The Contagiousness of a Happy Couple: True Story or Con-Job (or Doesn’t It Matter?)

  1. Kevin T says:

    I always enjoy reading, Kevin. This blog has lots of great insights, and I’ve used it as conversational fodder, even beyond the Comments section.

    My father in law had spent a bit of time working in Santa Monica, and he always raved about the local church choir, because it was chock full of so many talented people who were looking for an outlet. In many cases, the job that paid the bills (bartending, say) didn’t provide an audience, and they honed their skills performing in things like the choir while waiting for that big break.

    As for the video, let’s agree that even if it’s a setup, it was an effective setup. It takes a lot of work to to make magic, but the most important ingredient is a willing audience. If DisneyWorld played host to 80 million travel critics a year, they’d have a much tougher time convincing people of Disney Magic. Whether this was serendipity or sleight of hand, I don’t know, but they didn’t reach 17 million views from people wanting it to be staged.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Great points, again, Kev! I think it falls under master showmanship, like you point out with Disney. There was certainly no ill-will and if it transports the audience (as Disney does) then that’s not a bad thing. Roller coasters, haunted houses at Halloween and Chuck E. Cheeses have been doing the same to willing audiences for years!

  2. Kevin T says:

    I’m even later to the party; that was great. And, if this was filmed in CA, my vote is it’s the real deal- lots of wannabe artists artists in SoCal. Don’t get me wrong, if she had been filmed previously at the same pump, that might have become her regular station. But that doesn’t make her (or Leno) a con artist, and neither the couple nor the host deserve comparison to Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, or other sexual deviants.

    Regarding the separation of art from the artist: most artists tend to be socially liberal, be it film or music or drama. As a right thinking conservative, I often find myself in the position of disagreeing with the performer on a host of social and political issues. Certainly, the message matters, but if the art is good enough, I can usually look past the preaching (Warren Beatty’ s Reds is a good example). Who cares if Sean Penn loves Castro or Hugo Chavez? If his movie is good, I’ll still see it. But Hollywood itself doesn’t think this way; it’s a lot like a pack of high school cheerleaders- intolerant of any viewpoint outside the lockstep clique. Case in point: Rob Lowe getting flak for appearing in a film version of Bill O’Reilly’ s Kennedy book– not because of the “art” itself (it’s a straightforward history of the events surrounding the assassination), but because a Fox News talking head is associated with the production.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Thanks, as ever, Kev, for reading and the perspective. I hope it’s like NY with talent everywhere–even at Costco’s gas pumps!

      I’m not comparing the singers or Leno to others’ proclivities/histories–just the altered lens we all put on when news/rumors affect people and their work. I like the Mean Girls comparison!

      Take care!

  3. Laura says:

    I saw that video a few months ago and figured it was too good to be true but I loved it anyway for the smiles it gave me. I don’t even want to read about how it was a fake (which is what I assume your Jay Leno link tells us) but it is an interesting question about how/if to separate the maker from his work.

    I read “Ender’s Game” last week, which was an excellent piece of science fiction that’s influenced everything from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. But we’re being told NOT to read it since its author is an unrepentant homophobe. I do think intention matters in these things. Is the intent to fool people? To sell something? To insert secret messages in your work to persuade others of your beliefs? Should we care about an artist’s personal life so much that we judge his work by it? Do we want/expect OUR work to be judged by our personal life and beliefs? Society will have its own opinions and dictates, but in many ways I guess it comes down your personal judgment of what you think of the artist’s work and intention, and what matters to you.

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      Thanks, Laura. Great point about “Enders Game” and its current boycott. I’m reminded of Johnny Hart and the protests against his anti-Islamic stances, perhaps subliminally, in certain of his “B.C.” comics–and certainly in his public discussion. After I’d seen some of the examples, it tainted my childhood enjoyment of the strip.

      It’s almost like Salieri, at the end of “Amadeus,” when he’s so frustrated to see someone so irritating–could create such immortal beauty. It’s very easier to separate the artist from the art if the personality flaws are so separate from the work (particularly with Frank Lloyd Wright), but if we feel like we’re being taken through that same work it can certainly go beyond irritating.