The Secret is a rather sudden and forceful cultural phenomenon that I am apparently just a little bit too late in recognizing, much like my narrow-minded inability to recognize the positive merits of iPods or polio vaccinations. A hugely popular self-help “package”, The Secret is presented in both a book and a DVD format, lending its teachings to be published and easily accessible to (let’s face it) bored middle-aged housewives with disposable income the world over. It’s hardly a secret that The Secret is propagated prominently on Oprah, the Ellen DeGeneres show, and, presumably, junior high school soccer games, Costco, and overpriced massage parlors.
The Secret forms it base of philosophy off of the Law of Attraction, proponents of which claim it has its roots in quantum physics, much like how Papa Smurf no doubt is an academic derivation of dispensationalism. The Law of Attraction states that…well, to be honest, I’m not sure exactly what it states, because it has that touch-feely New Age definition that I’m pretty sure is vague enough to please anyone who has already committed $29.95 of their paycheck. It seems to be something like the following:
1) Your thoughts and feelings affect the events that happen in your life;
2) You can do this by drawing your thoughts on blank poster board;
3) Or, instead, you can think about it really, really hard; and
4) I’m not making this shit up.
The makers of The Secret tend to downplay the whole Win, Lose, or Draw combined with armchair psychology thing, believing it to be somewhat of a hard sell. Instead, they promote The Secret as a life-affirming, positive enhancement to the daily routine. Think positive thoughts, they say, and positive things will happen to you.
Which, as everyone knows, is complete hogwash. For instance, every single night I lie awake in my bed and crush my eyes tight, thinking as hard as I possibly can about Scarlett Johansson wearing nothing but a bath towel and a smile, presenting me with a plate of frozen chocolate covered bananas, a fistful of Double Eagles, and an advance copy of Madden 2008. But every morning I wake up to nothing but bran muffins and unfinished ironing, and when I finally show up at my boring job that cute blonde the next team over won’t give me eye contact, let alone the time of day. So, so much for that.
The Secret is spearheaded by an otherwise pleasant lady with the name of Rhonda Byrne, who kind of looks like a cross between an albino go-go dancer and an amalgamation of the appearance (and, I presume, the personality) of all the past and present female members of Fleetwood Mac. She has the dispensation of exactly the kind of person you expect to meet at a New Age convention somewhere—youthful, energetic, and scares the secular hoobity-joobities out of you.
Incredibly, The Secret proudly advises that its tenets can help you out financially. Most self-help products go through great pains to avoid the “get rich quick” angle, preferring the “scam good hard-earned money for a collection of worthless platitudes you could derive from the punch line on a Bazooka gum wrapper” approach. The producers of the film are up front about the appeal for riches; tell people they’ll find true love, inner peace, or efficient order in their lives, they say, and consumers will pass, thank you very much, as they stop at the state store or the OTB to find their peace, love, and order. But promise them cash, and they’ll line up around the block, clutching their Machu Picchu keychains and Whole Foods discount cards as they patiently wait their turn.
I’m a rather skeptical person by nature. I’m doubtful I’d believe anything that could conceivably show up on the same catalog page as, say, quartz crystals that can harness the earth’s energy, a wild claim I refuse to acknowledge until they can design a manual can opener that doesn’t involve me, at some point, accidentally shoving a sliver of tin into the meaty part of my thumb and loudly proclaiming a rather un-New Age like sentiment. So The Secret’s secret is lost on me; if I’m not buying into Area 51, Kirilian photographs, state lotteries, or Barack Obama, I’m certainly not buying an Australian-based pseudo-psychological documentary-in-quotes-only.
Still, I can’t fault a girl for trying. Even if you’re not a fan of The Secret’s warmed-over Psychology 101 nonsense and its borderline criminal marketing campaign, if nothing else it helps people who need that kind of thing with an easy, positive aspect of their own lives they can concentrate on. Granted, anyone could go to a used book store and pick up a Norman Vincent Peale book for a quarter or watch a couple of episodes of Viva la Bam to make themselves feel superior. But many who believe in The Secret are also those willing to buy pretentious rubbish for five times wholesale and are probably not exactly the most resistant when it comes to buying them several shots at the hotel bar after a grueling day bouncing about in their revealing sun dress pushing powder blue crystal healing stones slash earrings at easily pleased passers-by at the Holistic Convergence 2007 convention booth. Now that’s a positive thought.