JUNK FOOD: Impostor Syndrome

September 2021

He combs and slicks his hair. He slips lenses into his eyes. He glues a false fingerprint with a tiny blood sachet to the end of his index finger. He looks the part, but now he must live it.

This is, essentially, the elevator pitch for the 1997 film Gattaca, starring Ethan Hawke and Jude Law as interchangeable, doppelganger white dudes. I watched this movie many, many times in high school but hadn’t revisited it until recently. (And certainly not since Jude Law’s iconic, inimitable crisis surrounding the Shania-Twain-tuna-fish-sandwich story—”How am I not myself?”—in I ❤ Huckabees.)

two white men; Jude Law and Ethan Hawke in Gattaca

Ethan Hawke’s character is born biologically ‘deficient’ for space travel, so he assumes Jude Law’s ‘superior’ genetic identity after he’d faked his own death; they’re both pretending to be something they’re not. The two men can only succeed by working together to create an identity acceptable to the world, but they don’t stop to ask whether they should.

white man with blond hair and suit asks How am I not myself?; Jude Law in I Heart Huckabees

I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life. I’ve wanted to hold a book in my hands and read the words aloud and feel pride for the thing I’ve created. I’ve wanted to claim the title, and feel honest about it. Whereas the white dudes in Gattaca felt entitled to lead their impostor identity I worry my claim will ring false to others because I can barely believe it myself.

book cover of A Century of Swindles; Ponzi Schemes, Con Men, and Fraudsters by Railey Jane Savage

Readers, I’ve written a book about scammers and con artists that I took a year to research, and still I worry someone will ‘find out’ I’m not the real deal. But if the confidence of (white) men can teach us anything, it’s that each of us is entitled to be whatever we want just so long as we believe in ourselves. Therefore:

A Century of Swindles: Ponzi Schemes, Con Men, and Fraudsters, by me – Railey Jane Savage, thank you very much – is available now wherever fine books are sold. The scammers’ currency was, more often than not, sheer confidence and I’m trying to take a page out of my own book. So now when someone asks what I’m about I will reply, with confidence, “I am a writer.”